How long does it take to complete the NEBOSH General Certificate?

4 minute read | 28 March 2019 10:15:00 GMT

calendarMost people thinking about taking a qualification want to know 2 things; how much will it cost me? how long will it take me? One of the many advantages of the NEBOSH General Certificate is its flexibility. Being able to take the course online or in a classroom means you can spend as much or as little time as you need to complete the course.

The NEBOSH General Certificate requires a total of 133 hours of study. This is broken down into ‘tuition hours’ and ‘self-study hours’. But how long it actually takes you to achieve your qualification will largely depend on your daily commitments, availability and chosen learning method. 

Tuition hours

Tuition hours are the time you spend on your core learning either through an online course or in a classroom. The NEBOSH General Certificate has a total of 80 tuition hours across the 3 units.

Online courses offer the most flexibility. You’ll have all the materials you need for your core learning hours, but when and how long you study for is up to you. 

Ideally you should factor in time to study every day, including weekends. If you can’t then it may take you longer to complete the course and feel confident to sit your exams. Most course providers will put a limit on how long you have access to your online course and support for so always check this before you start.

Only courses are available for the national and international version of the course. 

Classroom courses are taught across 10 days running between 9am – 5pm. They’re split across 2 weeks (1 for each unit) with a break in between.

As well as the time spent in the classroom, you’ll also be expected to complete homework and your own additional study in the break between your sessions, so make sure you factor in time for this.

Classroom courses are usually only available in the UK for the national version of the course. 

Self-study hours

As with any qualification, you’ll be expected to dedicate a certain amount of time to your own research. You’re recommended to spend approximately 53 hours on private study; this can be anything from reading journals and websites, to attending webinars, completing homework and watching videos.

Additional resources – like interactive activities, past exam questions and links to relevant research – are all included within your online course, so you’ll have everything you need to complete your self-study hours in one place.

If you’re studying in the classroom, you’ll be given printed course materials and workbooks, as well as recommendations on where to find additional information. 


There are 3 exams for the NEBOSH General Certificate. N/IGC1 and GC2 are both assessed by a written exam. GC3 is assessed by a written assignment. 

Unfortunately, your written exams can’t be done online and must be taken with an approved NEBOSH provider under exam conditions. The exams last 2-hours and are usually done on the same day. N/IGC1 takes place in the morning at 9am, and GC2 in the afternoon at 2pm.

Your GC3 assignment can be completed in your own time and must be submitted within 2 weeks of sitting your written exams.

Exam dates are held 4 times a year in March, June, September and December. In the UK, some providers will also hold additional exams throughout the year to coincide with their classroom courses. 

If you're studying in a classroom, your exam will usually be scheduled for the week after your last session. If you're studying online, you'll need to let your course provider know when you're ready to sit your exam and they'll make all the arrangements for you. 

How long is your certificate valid for?

There’s no expiration date on your NEBOSH General Certificate. Once you’ve passed it, that’s it!

Saying that, if you want to progress onto other NEBOSH qualifications, like the NEBOSH Diploma or specialist NEBOSH Certificates, you’ll need to do so within 5 years of passing your NEBOSH General Certificate.

Want to know more? Get Your Free NEBOSH Certificate Taster Pack

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Rosie Thomas

Rosie is the International Marketing Executive at Astutis. After graduating with a degree in Business and Management from Aberystwyth University, she joined the Astutis team to work closely with our learning development team and health and safety consultants to create useful content for our readers. Since taking her Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing online, Rosie particularly enjoys writing how-to-guides and career posts, using her own experience of online learning and professional development to offer advice to those thinking of taking a health and safety career. Rosie has also taken her NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.