Best Online Certificate in Safety Programs

Online safety certificates offer a quick and inexpensive way to boost salaries and expand career options. Start your path forward now.

portrait of Doug Wintemute
by Doug Wintemute

Published June 10, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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An online certificate in safety equips students with public safety skills and expertise, as well as an understanding of laws and regulations. Not to be confused with occupational safety certificates, which provide health and safety training, online certificates in safety focus on career training for the protective service industry.

Certificate cost, length, and focus can vary considerably between schools and programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% growth for protective service occupations between 2020-2030, equal to the projected growth rate for all occupations. The median annual wage for these professionals was $46,590 in May 2021, just higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

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Here, we explore the best online certificates in safety from top online schools, including what people can expect from the application process, online programs, and entering the workforce.

What Is an Online Certificate in Safety Program?

Schools, organizations, and industries may use the terms differently, but certificates, certifications, and licenses usually differ by who issues them. For example, colleges and universities typically award certificate programs, which are condensed training programs. Undergraduate and graduate certificates may lead to the same outcomes as bachelor's and master's degrees, but they focus on a smaller and more specialized segment of the field.

Conversely, certifications typically come from organizations and professional associations. They acknowledge that the credentialed professional has met the standards of that industry or field. Licenses come from state governments and award professionals who have met the requirements to practice in their profession.

What Can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Safety Program?

Every online certificate in safety is a little different, but these programs usually feature 12-24 credits and take students less than one year to complete. The training typically explores a specific field and prepares graduates for the workforce with applicable skills and practical training.

Depending on the level of training, certificates in safety may help aspiring protective service professionals prepare for training academy programs or help experienced professionals advance their careers. In addition to undergraduate and graduate certificates, prospective students can choose from various disciplines. Certificates may be available for public safety in law enforcement, security, or fire sciences.

Furthermore, a certificate in safety may offer different emphases. For example, students may choose a certificate in public safety administration or leadership. These concentrations change the training's focus and can greatly influence the postgraduate opportunities available to students.

While most online certificates feature traditional coursework, some programs include practicums or practical training exercises. Students in these programs can usually complete them entirely online, but on-campus residencies may be required in some cases.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Certificate in Safety Program?

Human Resources in Public Safety

In this course, students learn how human resources professionals operate within the public safety sector. Learners pick up the knowledge and tools needed to staff organizations, resolve conflicts, and establish workplace rules and guidelines.

Public Safety Ethics

Students in this course study the ethical frameworks and expectations for public safety professionals. Learners look at topics in professional accountability and the common ethical issues they might face.

Homeland Security

This course provides students with an overview of Homeland Security, including the department's roles and functions. Learners examine the processes and systems in place for defending national security and investigating threats.

Law Enforcement Leadership

In this course, students learn how law enforcement leaders oversee daily operations. Learners gain the communication, organization, critical thinking, and project management skills necessary for roles in law enforcement.

Contemporary Issues in Policing

This course explores the biggest issues ongoing in the policing profession and community. For example, students may look at issues in immigration, transparency, rehabilitation, and the justice system.

What are the Admission Requirements for an Online Certificate in Safety Program?

The admission requirements for an online certificate in safety depend on the school and program. Some undergraduate certificates accept applicants with just a high school diploma or its equivalent. Others require a specific minimum GPA and prerequisite courses.

Graduate certificates usually require at least a bachelor's degree for entry. Although, some programs ask for a specific discipline or relevant professional experience. Other possible admission requirements may include:

Depending on how much of the training overlaps between the programs, students may not be able to pursue a criminal justice degree or one in a related discipline and a public safety certificate at the same time.

What Can I Do With an Online Certificate in Safety Degree?

Career Outlook

Communities everywhere are seeking better and more accessible protective services. While local budgets and falling crime rates may limit growth in some locations, the BLS projects the addition of nearly 300,000 protective service occupations overall between 2020-2030.

Graduates with a certificate in safety can access many of the positions in this field, including jobs in policing, firefighting, security, and corrections. While these jobs may require the completion of more training programs, safety certificates can prepare candidates for academy success and make them more desirable to employers.

Extra training may also help candidates acquire higher wages than the $46,590 median annual salaries reported by the BLS. Depending on their training and experience, graduates may qualify for leadership or senior-level roles.

Find out how an online certificate in safety can support your professional pursuits. Learn more about criminal justice careers.

Career Paths

Police and Detective

Police and detectives investigate crimes, patrol neighborhoods, and respond to emergencies. They also collect evidence, create reports for all incidents and activities, and appear in court for cases they are involved with. Most police and detectives need to complete an academy training program to qualify for employment.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $66,020

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers protect the people and property within prisons and jails. These professionals oversee incarcerated people, monitor their behavior and activities, resolve conflicts, and report any incidents. Correctional officers typically must complete a training program prior to employment.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $47,920

Firefighters

Firefighters specialize in putting out and managing fires, but they respond to all types of emergencies, including medical and environmental issues. They may work with hazardous materials, assist with traffic accidents, and rescue humans and animals from dangerous situations. Firefighters typically must complete an academy training program to qualify for employment.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $50,700

Security Guard and Gambling Surveillance Officer

Security guards protect people and property for organizations, casinos, and events. They patrol areas, investigate any suspicious or illegal activities and behavior, and contact the authorities and first responders in the case of an emergency. Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually must complete on-the-job training.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $31,470

Private Detective and Investigator

Private detectives and investigators gather information for organizations and individuals. They may research public records, conduct surveillance on people and places, or monitor social media and internet activity. Private investigators often need state licensure to practice.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $59,380

Safety Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

After completing a certificate in safety, graduates can either enter the workforce or continue their training. Those that choose the latter path have many options available to them and may even qualify for transfer credits. They can, for example, take the most direct route and pursue a bachelor's in public safety administration.

Other options include a bachelor's in criminal justice, bachelor's in law enforcement, and bachelor's in legal studies. Graduate certificate-holders may be better prepared for or earn transfer credit for a master's in criminal justice or a master's in law enforcement administration.

How Do I Choose an Online Certificate in Safety Program?

Cost

As with traditional degrees, prospective public safety certificate students should evaluate and compare costs of all potential programs. They may want to start by comparing costs of online and on-campus programs, public and private school costs, and in-state and out-of-state program costs. By looking at the true program cost, candidates can also see how the different programs will impact their income.

Program Format

Safety certificates may feature vastly different program formats. They may feature synchronous or asynchronous courses or offer full-time or part-time schedules. Prospective students should figure out which format works best for them and find the most suitable program that offers it.

Location

Though on-campus students need to think about location more than online students, online students may still benefit from a program close by. When choosing between online and on-campus programs, all learners need to consider location because it can impact cost, travel, residency requirements, and postgraduate licensure.

Accreditation

Prospective students must think about institutional and programmatic accreditation when choosing a school and program. Institutional accreditation is required for schools to offer federal financial aid. In the public safety field, however, programmatic accreditation is optional, and there is no single organization leading in this area.

Student Support

The best programs often provide additional services for students, such as career services, academic support, and mentorship programs. Prospective learners should investigate the available student services and online student services to find the right support structures for them. They might consider the in-program extras as well, including networking opportunities and internships and practicums.

Best Accredited Online Certificate in Safety Programs

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Best Online Certificate in Safety Programs

  • Davidson County Community College
    Location

    Thomasville, NC

    Based in Thomasville, North Carolina, DCCC serves about 3,600 students each year, many of whom obtain their credentials remotely. The school's catalog contains an online certificate in fire protection technology with an emphasis in public safety telecommunication. Through an 18-credit curriculum, candidates develop the professional and technical knowledge needed to work for public and private sector employers.

    On top of the embedded emphasis, students may further personalize their education by pursuing either a community relations or emergency operations track. The former option covers topics like law enforcement operations and introduction to criminal justice, while the latter path teaches candidates about managing fire services and the sociology of disaster.

    Applicants must submit an online form and complete a residency determination. Learners interested in joining this online certificate in safety program need not submit standardized test scores.

  • Wayne Community College
    Location

    Goldsboro, NC

    WCC delivers over 140 academic, technical, and continuing education programs. Options include an online emergency management certificate in public safety. Distance learners take asynchronous courses through the Moodle platform, and the typical class includes 15-30 students.

    The 12-credit curriculum includes classes like the sociology of disaster and emergency management. Students also delve into the laws and ethical principles that impact emergency service personnel. Before graduating, participants learn how to enact direct response operations to manage natural disasters, terrorism attacks, and acts of school and workplace violence.

    To enroll in this online certificate in safety program, applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Distance learners can access online tutoring services and dedicated career guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Certificate in Safety Programs

Is a certificate in safety worth it?

Yes. A certificate in safety has several benefits for those who earn one. They can help people enter the workforce in many of the protective service occupations by preparing them for academy programs and enhancing their qualifications. They can also prepare graduates for further training or earn them transfer credits.

With many online certificates in safety, working professionals can bolster their training and qualifications without having to change their employment status. The more accessible programs and flexible schedules make learning more suitable for those who need nontraditional study formats.

>What can you do with a certificate in safety?

While every employer has their own job requirements, graduates with a certificate in safety can usually access protective service occupations, including policing, security, corrections, and firefighting. Candidates in these fields typically need to complete an internal training program for entry, but certificates can help prepare them.

Graduates may also be able to use their certificates for further training purposes. An undergraduate certificate in safety can prepare them for a bachelor's degree in public safety or a related discipline, while graduate certificates do the same for master's degrees. Schools may even award transfer credits for the certificate training.

Is a safety certificate program hard?

Any college-level program can be difficult depending on the student and their individual background. However, the content covered within a certificate in safety is not considered overly challenging compared to the average program. The programs often focus on practical education and applicability, which can help students better understand and contextualize the lessons.

Yet, a certificate in safety may feature condensed training, which can be demanding for some learners. Prospective students should expect heavy workloads. Students who put in the required effort and determination may do well in a certificate in safety program.

How long does it take to get a certificate in safety?

The length of a certificate in safety depends on the school, the program, and the student. While these programs usually run between 6-12 months, students may be able to fast-track or slow down the training depending on their needs. Schools often provide full-time and part-time study options.

In an online certificate in safety, learners can usually access more flexible study options. Online programs use asynchronous learning to allow students to study when it best suits them. Self-paced programs may also be available.

What's the highest-paying job you can get with a certificate in safety?

The highest-paying job for a graduate with a certificate in safety depends on their previous training, experience, location, and employer. In general, police and detectives earn the highest wages in protective services. According to the BLS, they made median annual salaries of $66,020 as of May 2021.

Professionals in this field with graduate training and extensive experience may qualify for senior-level positions, which could put them in the top 10% of earners who made over $105,540 in May 2021. The type of position makes a difference as well, with detectives and criminal investigators earning median annual wages of $83,640.

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