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Military life to a civilian job in health and safety

Updated: Apr 8

Written by Steven Mullan 02.04.2024.

🎖️ From Battlefields to Safety Shields: Transitioning from the British Forces 🇬🇧 to a Career in Health and Safety 🛡️

If you're moving from military life to a civilian job in health and safety, you have a treasure trove of skills that are just right for the role. Think about it: your knack for leadership, your eagle eye for details, your cool head when risks pop up, and your grit when the going gets tough—these are golden in the health and safety world. It's important to show off these skills when hunting for jobs.

Forces tranisitiong from military to civilian health and safety careers

Understanding the Value of Military Experience

Your military background has equipped you with invaluable skills for a health and safety role. Leadership, attention to detail, risk assessment, and the ability to operate under pressure are all highly transferable skills. Recognising and articulating how these skills apply to health and safety is crucial in positioning yourself as a strong civilian candidate.

Starting with the IOSH Managing Safely Course

A practical step towards entering the health and safety profession is to begin with foundational training. The IOSH Managing Safely course, offered by providers such as SM Safety Training, is an excellent starting point. This course is designed to give you a broad understanding of health and safety issues and management responsibilities, making it ideal for those transitioning from military to civilian roles. It covers risk assessment, hazard identification, and the legal framework around health and safety, providing a solid foundation to build your new career.

Building on Your Qualifications

After completing the IOSH Managing Safely course, consider furthering your education with more advanced qualifications, such as the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. This certificate is often considered a benchmark qualification for health and safety professionals and can open doors to higher-level positions.

Rough costs for the courses and how long each course is.

You can use your standard learning credits to fund your IOSH Managing Safely course (£175); the army gives you this money every year, so don't miss out.

You can use your ELCAS to help fund the NEBOSH courses; you can pick up great bundle deals to maximise your ELCAS budget.

·      IOSH Managing Safely course - £260 – 3 days long.

·      NEBOSH General - £1650.00 – 9 days + 1 day exam.

·      NEBOSH Fire Safety and Risk Management - £1075 – 5 days + 1 day exam.

·      NEBOSH Environmental Management Certificate £1050 – 5 days + 1 day exam.

·      NEBOSH Construction management - £1650.00 – 10 days + 48-hour exam.

SM Safety Training course costs

Related subjects to read. How to use your SLC

Applying Military Skills to Civilian Job Roles

When moving from a military to a civilian career in health and safety, it's crucial to effectively translate your service experience. Emphasise your leadership roles, risk management expertise, and any safety-specific responsibilities you've managed. These are highly pertinent in the health and safety and can distinguish you as a strong candidate. As you customise your CV and cover letter, ensure they reflect how your military experience is advantageous in health and safety roles. Moreover, you don't have to go at it alone; there are resources and individuals committed to assisting ex-service personnel. For instance, John Stephenson is part of the Forces Transition Group, offering free, excellent CV writing services and runs forces transitioning days with an insider's understanding of military careers.

Networking and Professional Development

Networking is crucial in any career transition. Connect with professionals in the health and safety field through LinkedIn, attend industry events, and consider joining relevant associations such as IOSH or the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM). These platforms can provide valuable insights, job leads, and opportunities for professional development. Seek out groups such as FTG job fairs; they can help and guide you through the transition.

Gaining Practical Experience

Practical experience in health and safety can significantly enhance your employability. Look for internships, volunteer opportunities, or even entry-level positions that can provide hands-on experience. You can contact SM Safety Training and Consultancy to help; they are happy to chat with you and, in the right circumstances, give you a helping hand to gain experience. Your military background and health and safety qualifications can make you an attractive candidate for organisations looking for disciplined and skilled professionals.

Continuous learning and development

The health and safety field is continually evolving, with new legislation, technologies, and best practices emerging regularly. Stay informed and continue to develop your skills through courses, workshops, and self-study. Adapting to changes and demonstrating a commitment to professional growth will be key to your success in this new career. Become a member of a professional body such as IOSH.

What is the range of pay?

The average salary for a Health and Safety Officer is approximately £28,400 per year, with the potential to exceed £45,000 for experienced individuals​ (Jobted)​.

Health and Safety Advisors have an average salary of £31,211, ranging from £24,000 to £41,000​ (PayScale)​.

The overall average salary for professionals in health and safety roles can be around £46,309, indicating higher earning potential with advancement and specialised qualifications​ (Reed)​.

Given these figures, a realistic expectation for someone starting in the health and safety field, especially transitioning from the military with foundational courses like the IOSH Managing Safely, would be in the lower to middle end of these ranges, with ample room for growth as experience and further qualifications are gained.


Leaving the British Army and transitioning into a career in health and safety offers the chance to make a significant impact in civilian workplaces, ensuring the safety and well-being of others. Starting with the IOSH Managing Safely course with SM Safety Training is a commendable first step. By leveraging your military experience, pursuing further qualifications, and engaging with the health and safety community, you can successfully navigate this transition and build a rewarding new career.

If you want to know more information, please feel free to get in touch.

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Really good post and definitely a help to those leaving the army

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Love this post

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