Get Qualified: NEBOSH & IOSH

Health and Safety is thankfully built into almost every aspect of industrial practice, and quite right too; it saves lives. Although working in the health and safety industry may not sound terribly exciting, it can actually be one of the most varied and interesting career paths available to Service-leavers as the expertise learned in training can be applied across a number of different fields and sectors.

By Michael Park

NEBOSH and IOSH are the most well-known qualification schemes around and are a strong starting point to a solid career.

There are marked differences between both schemes though and it’s important to pick the right one to ensure you get the best start in your new career.


The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is at the forefront of health and safety knowledge in the UK. It is the largest such organisation in the world and the only recognised chartered body for professionals.

With a membership numbering 44,000 professionals and with around 160,000 people every year gaining an IOSH training qualification, IOSH is committed to creating a world of work which is safe, healthy and sustainable.



The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) was formed in 1979 as an awarding body with charitable status. They offer a wide range of globally recognised qualifications designed to meet the health, safety and environmental management needs of all places of work and are the place to go in order to get qualified in the health and safety field.

NEBOSH courses can be undertaken from more than 600 providers right across the country and their courses are studied by more than 50,000 people annually.


What’s The Difference?

The difference is simple. An IOSH training qualification is recognised only by the Institution itself. It offers a very solid grounding in the basics and fundamental principles of health and safety, but their courses are designed more for people working in other roles who require awareness of workplace safety and health and how it relates to their duty of care for employees and customers.

NEBOSH on the other hand, is a tougher, more expensive course but forms the qualification for anyone who wishes to make a career out of health and safety.


If you’ve resettled into a management position following your exit from the Armed Forces then you may find yourself being sent on an IOSH course in order to gain a greater understanding of how to manage risk in the workplace.

The IOSH course is a practical programme with step-by-step guidance and a sharp focus on how excellent health and safety management can benefit a business – it’s not just about filling in the Accident Book!

The modules include assessing and controlling risks, understanding hazards and responsibilities, investigating incidents, measuring key performance and also includes ways of protecting the environment. It is assessed with two tests. One, a 25-question multiple choice exam forms the theory element while a practical risk assessment makes up the rest.

The qualification – an IOSH Managing Safely Certificate – is recognised by the organisation itself but does not qualify you as a health and safety risk manager. It does, however, offer many benefits to business such as greater productivity, and an improved safety culture within the organisation.


NEBOSH is the recommended body for qualifications if you leave the Armed Forces looking to get into health and safety risk management as a career. Their courses represent the gold standard in the UK and provide not only an in-depth understanding of legislation, but also the ideal way to put this into action.

There are three levels of qualification available from NEBOSH:


The Award level NEBOSH qualification demonstrates basic understanding of the subject covered and may be used as an introduction to other higher level NEBOSH qualifications.

The awards available at this level are:

  • Health and Safety at Work Qualification.
  • Award in Environmental Management.


NEBOSH’s Certificate level demonstrates a broad knowledge of the subject covered. These courses are a good starting point for anyone looking to launch their career in safety management.

  • National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety.
  • National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management.
  • National Certificate in Environmental Management.
  • National Certificate in the Management of Health and Well-being at Work.
  • International Certificate in Construction Health and Safety.
  • International Technical Certificate in Oil and Gas Operational Safety.

The General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety is the UK’s most popular health and safety qualification and has no formal entry requirements, although some prior knowledge either through an IOSH course or a NEBOSH Award level course are recommended.

The course itself is divided into three units, the first two are assessed by exams and the third one by a practical assessment. Once the course is completed, graduates meet the academic requirements for Technical Membership of IOSH (Tech IOSH) and associate membership of the International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM).

It should be noted that those looking to move abroad to kick-start their careers should consider the international version of the course which substitutes international laws and statutes for those which are standard to the UK.


Diploma level qualifications demonstrate professional knowledge of the subject covered.

  • National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • Diploma in Environmental Management.
  • Advanced knowledge for the work.

For those looking to develop their expertise to a highly respected professional level, NEBOSH offer diploma level courses which gain graduates status as Chartered IOSH members (CMIOSH). These courses are split into four units – three exam based and one assignment – and are very demanding but are noted as being the most transferable qualifications to hold for those who may wish to change across job roles and sectors.

The diploma also enables further study at a much higher level. For example, the University of Hull offer a series of research-based and taught Masters programmes for those looking to study at the highest echelons of health and safety management, enabling committed students to become leading practitioners in their field.


NEBOSH Qualifications:

University of Hull:

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