In general, this study's results agree with those of Ferguson, despite the fact that his method of data collection was fundamentally different. Ferguson's participants (randomly selected practicing CSPs) were asked to rank pre-selected curriculum content areas, while this study used information published in classified advertisements. In Ferguson's study, the two mostimportant content areas were verbal communication and written communication, followed (in order) by safety management, regulations and safety training. When this study's "major responsibilities" and "knowledge and skills" categories were merged (to facilitate comparison with Ferguson's findings), the top five criteria are similar, with verbal/written communication ranked third after the general categories of SH&E regulations and SHEM. Some similarities also exist between these findings and those of Charehsazan. For example, rhetoric/composition and speech, which are analogous to verbal/written communication, ranked in the top 10 content areas. Computer skills was among the top 10 content areas for both Charehsazan and Ferguson, as well as in the study presented here. Interpersonal skills/teamwork, which ranked sixth in this study, was not mentioned in the other two. This finding may be because the topic is related to inherent qualities rather than actual course content or job responsibilities. None of the so-called "preparatory" courses (i.e., calculus, physics, chemistry, toxicology or life sciences) were mentioned in the ads. When specifically asked about these courses, Ferguson's participants ranked them toward the bottom in perceived importance. As Ferguson explained, however, the content of such courses serves as the basis for other, more-applied courses such as industrial hygiene, fire science and ergonomics. Furthermore, just because an ad does not mention a particular content area does not mean it is not important or will not be useful on the job. Ads are not job descriptions. Due to their cost and space limitations, they must be concise. The most-frequent type of employer was insurance/loss control/prevention, followed by manufacturing, which is also consistent with Ferguson's findings.
West Virginia University, School of Medicine, Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, Morgantown, West Virginia