One of the most common questions our advisors get asked is “which NEBOSH course should I take, the Diploma or Certificate?”. Some learners come to us hoping to take the NEBOSH Diploma but don’t have the right experience. Some ask about the NEBOSH General Certificate when they have the ability to aim higher.
The answer to which course is best for you largely depends on your knowledge, experience and ability to learn. We’ve explained the difference in level, content and entry requirements to help you decide which one is best for you.
Who is the course for?
The NEBOSH Diploma is aimed at those working in a health and safety role, like HSE managers, who are serious about a long-term career within health and safety. It shows potential employers that you're competent at managing health and safety at a high level and you're committed to improving standards and instilling change.
The NEBOSH General Certificate is aimed at everyone, not just those working within a health and safety role. In fact, 70% of learners who take the NEBSOH General Certificate don’t even list health and safety as their primary responsibility, such as HR Managers, Operational Managers or Line Managers.
It’s best suited for those who want to gain a broad understanding of health and safety management to improve their workplace. It’s also a great for those just starting out in their health and safety career, such as HSE advisors, and need to develop their skills. The NEBOSH Certificate is largely seen as the first step in a health and safety career.
The NEBOSH Diploma is similar to an honours degree. It's recognised around the world as a level 6 vocational qualification within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). In Scotland, it's credit rated by the Scottish Qualification Authority as level 10 with 48 credits.
As with any high-level academic course, it's certainly not easy. It'll take around 466 - 500 hours to complete and you’ll need to be able to prove your understanding by completing a large work-based project and three x 3-hour written exams.
The NEBOSH General Certificate is a level 3 vocational qualification, like a UK A-level. It's recognised as a level 6 with 15 credits in the Scottish Qualification Authority.
As a foundation level course it doesn’t require as many learning hours - 133 hours in total. But make no mistake, it’s still a tough course to complete. You’ll be expected to put in 53 hours private study, and complete a risk-assessment project and two 2-hour exams.
Both courses teach you how to manage health and safety and control workplace hazards. However there is a big difference in the amount of content covered in each course.
The NEBOSH Diploma builds on the topics covered in the NEBOSH General Certificate, but in much more detail. It’s broken down into 4 units:
- Unit A: Managing Health and Safety
- Unit B: Hazardous Substances/ Agents
- Unit C: Workplace and Work Equipment Safety
- Unit DNI: Practical Application of Health and Safety Theory
The NEBOSH General Certificate broadly covers the key elements of managing health and safety at a foundation level. It’s broken down into 2 units:
- Unit NG/IG1: The Management of Health and Safety
- Unit NG/IG2: Risk Assessment
Although there are no formal requirements for the NEBOSH Diploma, the course itself expands on the topics covered in the NEBOSH General Certificate. It's always recommended you complete the NEBOSH General Certificate before taking on the NEBOSH Diploma.
If you haven’t completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, you should have at least 5 years’ experience working within health and safety, or have completed another level-3 qualification to make sure you have an understanding of key health and safety topics.
The NEBOSH Certificate doesn't have any entry requirements and is suitable for anyone, at any point in their career.
Both the NEBOSH Diploma and NEBOSH General Certificate are recognised by employers, governments and professional memberships around the world.
The NEBOSH General Certificate is considered an essential qualification for management level, while the NEBOSH Diploma is listed as a minimum requirement for more senior health and safety roles.
The NEBOSH Diploma is also accepted as a route to entry by professional organisations and certifying bodies such as IOSH, BCRSP, BCRP and SAIOSH, making it a truly global recognised qualification.
More information on the NEBOSH Certificate
This blog post was updated in September 2019 to reflect the changes in the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus.