Nebosh or IOSH?

NEBOSH or IOSH – which one should you choose?

Taking a health and safety qualification has huge benefits: it allows you to gain more knowledge, enhances your CV and improves your chances of job progression. Whether you are looking to enter a career in health and safety or require the knowledge for your current role, a NEBOSH or IOSH qualification is a great choice.

But which one should you take?

This greatly depends on many things including the role you are in, what career you are looking for, the time you have available, your preferred study method and how much money you have for a qualification. We must however stress there is no right or wrong approach when choosing a qualification.

Let us first explain a bit of background information on NEBOSH and IOSH.

A bit of background on NEBOSH and IOSH

NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) was founded in 1979 and state that over 50,000 people take their qualification every year. They are globally recognised and are suitable for all types of industries. Their qualifications are recognised by outstanding membership bodies including IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health), IIRSM (The International Institute of Risk and Safety Management), IMEA (The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment), and TIFPO (The Institute of Fire Prevention Officers).

IOSH (The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) was founded in 1945. Over 179,000 people take their courses every year. Their qualifications are recognised internationally and are suitable for all industries. They are the chartered body and largest membership organisation for health and safety professionals.

Courses on offer


NEBOSH offer a wide variety of courses including introductory courses, awards, certificates, diplomas and masters. The courses combine practical and theory. There are general health and safety qualifications such as the NEBOSH National General Certificate and ones focused on specialisms such as the Fire Certificate.

The NEBOSH National General Certificate

The National General Certificate is the most recognised and trusted health and safety qualification within the United Kingdom and beyond. It provides a good foundation in health and safety for managers, supervisors, and staff where health and safety are part of their day to day responsibilities and people looking to get into the health and safety industry.

It covers the fundamentals of health and safety and provides an in depth understanding. It includes 2 units:

  • Unit NG 1 – Management of Health and Safety
  • Unit NG 2 – Risk Assessment

Due to its in depth nature, the classroom course lasts 9 days plus one day for the open book examination. The qualification is a level 3 qualification which is equivalent to a UK A level. It is assessed per unit, with NG1 being assessed via an open book examination and NG2 is assessed via a practical risk assessment at your place of work. The assessment is taken after the completion of the course.

After individuals have completed the National General Certificate, they can go onto specialise in a certain industry or specific skillset. This includes:

If you have taken a unit such as NG1 for the National General Certificate and then go onto study something like the Construction or Fire certificate, as long as the qualifications are taken within 5 years, you will not have to take the unit again.


IOSH offer health and safety courses suitable for everyone in the workplace up to the level of Executives. The courses use a combination of practical and theory. Some of the courses include:

Managing Safely – This course is for managers and supervisors in any sector or organisation and it’s designed to give managers all they need to know to help them handle health and safety in their teams. The course is a level 2 which is equivalent to a UK GCSE. The classroom course is 3 days long.

Working Safely – This course is appropriate for all workers and it will equip them with the core knowledge they require to work safely without endangering themselves or others. The classroom course is 1 day long.

IOSH courses take a modular approach. Both Managing Safely and Working Safely are assessed through a practical and written exam. These are taken on the same day of the course.

Main differences

NEBOSH qualifications are more in depth and can last up to 14 days for the classroom course. IOSH courses are a maximum of 3 days, whereas the NEBOSH National General Certificate lasts 9 days plus 1 day for the Open Book Examination.

NEBOSH qualifications cost more due to their in depth nature. The National General Certificate is £1,440 (inc VAT) for classroom training or £420 (inc VAT) for online. The longest IOSH course Managing Safely is £360 (inc VAT) for classroom training or £234 (inc VAT) for online.

NEBOSH qualifications are more focused on people wanting a career specifically in health and safety. IOSH courses are more suitable for those that have health and safety as part of their role, rather than want a career specifically in health and safety. Some however, use it as an entry level qualification to the health and safety industry.

IOSH offers a membership structure, whereas NEBOSH doesn’t. However, a NEBOSH qualification depending on which it is can entitle you to an Associate Membership of IOSH and other bodies such as IMEA and TIFPO.

So which one is for you? NEBOSH or IOSH?

If you want a career in health and safety, then we’d recommend a NEBOSH qualification. Taking the NEBOSH National General Certificate gives you a comprehensive guide into health and safety management and after completing it, allows you to branch into specialisms such as construction, fire or environmental.

If you are a manager or supervisor requiring health and safety training to give you the firm concepts of health and safety as part of your role, then the IOSH Managing Safely course would be the course of choice for you.

If you are looking to book a course, check out our NEBOSH and IOSH pages to see our full list of courses.

If you have any questions or need to discuss your options, please contact us on info@southwesthealthandsafety.com or  +44 (0)1264 874466  today.

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