My Path to the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer (CET)

CET Self Assessment Exam

My well worn Self-Assessment Exam.

I’ve spent a chunk of my career teaching environmental, health and safety (EHS) courses. I’ve know about the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer (CET) for years, but I didn’t really need it for my job. Therefore, I never pursued it. I asked other EHS trainers I know and no one else had it or had even considered it. Was this process going to be worth the effort? Eventually my curiosity got the best of me. I didn’t have any first-hand accounts of the process. Therefore, I write this in hope that it helps you on your path to the CET.

Spoiler: I was approved, passed the test and am now a CET.

My Background

Everyone has a different path to their certifications. I present this so you know where I’m coming from. At the time of the exam I’d had 18 years of EHS training experience. I’m also a Certified Hazardous Material Manager (CHMM). Along with my science degrees, I have an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education. But that education was nearly 20 years ago. All that together was the right background for the CET.

Investigating the CET

I was curious if the exam involved any EHS subject matter. It doesn’t and I soon realized why. You need to have a certification in your subject area, such as a CHMM or CIH, in order to be approved to take the exam. There’s a range of specialties a CET could teach, hazardous materials, waste, confined space, emergency response, and everything in between. It would be difficult to include specific EHS subject matter in the exam. That means the test is all about instruction. Uh oh, I thought. I hope my education background and experience can get me though this.

Test Preparation

I didn’t take a prep course. I bought the Self-Assessment Examination from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. This was a good resource. It has a 100-question practice exam, which I took 5 or 6 times. Although I eventually memorized most of the answers, it provided a baseline for understanding the test topics.

I bought and read the following books, which are referenced in the Self-Assessment Examination. I bought all 3 of them used on Amazon for less than $10. I didn’t read them front to back, but used them as references to research topics based on the study guide.

I also found the 2009 ANSI Z490.1 online. This is the standard the entire program is based. I’m guessing it’s posted online for free since there is an updated 2016 version.

The Test

It was exhausting. That’s the point, right? It took me 3 hours and 10 minutes of the allotted 4 hours.

I was around 50 questions in, already getting mentally fatigued, and wondering how I was going to make it though all 200 questions. I’m not an expert on the topics of instruction. Therefore, there were no gimme-questions. I had to think about and analyze every question. That’s draining. There was only 1 question, which I remember, that I had to make a pure guess. I had an answer or an explanation, right or wrong, for every other question.

I spent time leading up to the exam reviewing good test taking strategies. Not silly strategies, like picking answer C. This was helpful as well. I might not have mastered the topics, but the combination of some knowledge and good test taking let me feel more prepared.

When you finish the exam, you don’t find out your score. You don’t know what you got right or wrong. I clicked to finalize the exam and the screen showed “pass.” I thought, “Whew!” and then immediately, “Huh?” I was satisfied I passed, but confused that I didn’t know how I scored.

I also found the below video helpful. It’s a good walk through of the test taking experience. Those Pearson test centers don’t mess around. Understanding this process was another way to eliminate unknowns and focus on the test itself.


I credit my path to the CET mostly to my work experience, with support from my educational background, a decent study strategy, and a dash of good test taking.

I hope this helps you on your way to the CET. If so, pass it on. Good luck.