What Is The Difference Between IOSH And NEBOSH?

Explore This Post

There are several educational bodies offering health and safety training. IOSH and NEBOSH are two of the most well-known and respected. So, here we are for a practical IOSH Vs NEBOSH showdown…

Let’s compare them both and find the right health and safety course for you and your organisation.

Key points on IOSH Vs NEBOSH

  • Both IOSH and NEBOSH offer health and safety qualifications from Level 2 up. If you want a career in health and safety, look to our NEBOSH courses, but if you’re after awareness training for non-health and safety specialists, our IOSH training courses might be what you need.
  • You don’t need to pick just one. Both IOSH and NEBOSH are accepted and respected by employers. To possess a combination of qualifications is very common.
  • IOSH is a Chartered body offering membership, whereas NEBOSH is an awarding examination board.

IOSH vs NEBOSH: The key differences (and similarities)

Every person in an organisation is responsible for Health and Safety, and IOSH recognises this by offering courses at all levels.

Based on what you do

If you’re not in a health and safety role, working in a low-risk environment, or dipping your toe into health and safety, IOSH’s courses are perfect for you. 

NEBOSH courses tend to be more appropriate if you’re a skilled health and safety professional, angling for a career in management. Similarly, you could be new to the Health and Safety industry with designs on becoming a practitioner.

Based on reputation

Both awarding bodies are well-respected and recognised.

If you are a career climber, both IOSH and NEBOSH certificates will fortify your CV and will be well respected by employers and peers globally.

For organisational buyers and those responsible for compliance, the same stands. Your shareholder reports, tender submissions, and insurance requirements will be well served by your investment in training with either IOSH or NEBOSH.

Fundamentally, any of their qualifications, if appropriate to role requirements, will provide evidence that your skills are up to date and you’re complying with the law as far as the provision of training is concerned.

The course content they deliver

IOSH and NEBOSH have separate course frameworks, but you can pick and mix courses to get the desired experience.

I advise you to take time to understand the content you’ll cover and ensure the course you choose will cover everything you need to know.

IOSH is a Chartered body, NEBOSH is an examination body

IOSH, is a Chartered membership body for workers in health and safety that also offers qualifications. It’s based in the UK, but it’s the largest health and safety body globally, with 48,000 members worldwide.

Part of its offer is its highly sought-after memberships. From Student membership to Chartered Fellow membership, multiple levels represent a person’s expertise, education and experience. See our IOSH Membership Guide.

It’s self-regulating and governing, meaning it’s widely trusted and highly respected. As a Chartered body, IOSH keeps company with Oxford and Cambridge University, among other world-leading organisations.

Click for more answers to the question “What is IOSH?”

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), is an awarding body. It is also UK-based and offers many health, safety and environmental management qualifications.

IOSH Courses VS NEBOSH Courses?

The case for IOSH

By design, IOSH primarily focuses on practical and accessible courses suitable for professionals at every organisational level.

They develop each course to provide broad understanding and knowledge. A great example is the IOSH Managing Safely, an excellent entry point for Managers new to health and safety.

The key is that you don’t have to be a health and safety specialist or even have a risk management-related role to take IOSH courses.

IOSH’s Course Offering

IOSH qualifications are designed to raise health and safety standards for everyone in any business in any industry.

  • IOSH Working Safely is an entry-level course that takes just one day to complete. It covers the basic, yet essential, health and safety information that can be used by anyone in an organisation to make it safer.
  • IOSH Managing Safely is a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to a GCSE) that takes three days and requires you to complete an exam and a practical project. If you pass successfully, you leave with heightened hazard perception, risk assessment know-how, and a certificate to prove your knowledge. If you want more information, explore the reasons for taking an IOSH Managing Safely with our dedicated article.

You don’t need prior health and safety qualifications, grades or years of experience to join IOSH Working Safely or IOSH Managing Safely. They’re open to everyone.

Find out more about IOSH courses in our IOSH FAQs.

Ready to Bolster Your Management CV?
Book Your IOSH Managing Safely Today

Book your course, find out more or talk to our learning advisors…

IOSH Logo - Approved Provider 932

The Case for NEBOSH Courses

NEBOSH, in contrast, tends to offer more comprehensive courses often pursued by those intending to become safety professionals.

Their qualifications are widely recognised and respected by employers worldwide. Those employers see them as essential for higher-level OSH roles and those looking to develop careers as safety and health professionals.

As an awarding body, NEBOSH also has one eye on sustainable business, with qualifications in Environmental Management a part of their portfolio.

NEBOSH’s Course Offering

The qualifications cover different levels of expertise, from entry-level to advanced, and are suitable for individuals at various stages of their careers.

NEBOSH courses are typically aimed at professionals who want a career in health and safety management, such as:

  • Managers and supervisors
  • Health and safety professionals
  • Anyone who wants to further their health and safety career

The NEBOSH National General Certificate, our most popular NEBOSH course, is a Level 3 qualification, equivalent to an A-Level. It’s more challenging than IOSH’s courses and need a greater time and financial commitment.

There are no entry requirements, but because this is a more advanced course, you’ll usually be encouraged to get a level 2 health and safety qualification beforehand, so you’re prepared for the content within the syllabus.

Ready for Technical Membership?
Book Your NEBOSH General Today

Book your course, find out more or talk to our learning advisors…

NEBOSH Gold Logo

Find out more about NEBOSH courses in our NEBOSH FAQs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between IOSH and NEBOSH

  • Career Goals: If you are someone for whom health and safety are just one aspect of their responsibilities, IOSH courses may be more suitable. If you aim for a health and safety practitioner career, NEBOSH might be the better option.

  • Depth of Knowledge: IOSH courses provide foundational knowledge and are great for understanding the basics of health and safety. NEBOSH courses tend to be more in-depth and suit those who require a comprehensive understanding of health and safety practices.

  • Time and Investment: IOSH courses are shorter and less intensive than NEBOSH courses. Courses like the NEBOSH General, which are ten days in length, require a significant commitment in terms of time and study when compared to the IOSH Managing Safely which is only three days.

Both IOSH and NEBOSH have their unique strengths. The choice should be based on your career aspirations, detail requirements, and the time you’re able/willing to invest.

Mix IOSH and NEBOSH qualifications

The conventional pathway is to take Level 2 IOSH Managing Safely before moving on to the NEBOSH National General Certificate In Occupational Health And Safety.

IOSH and NEBOSH are both coveted by employers all over the world. You won’t be overlooked because you decide to take one over the other, and if you go to NEBOSH to develop your skills, you can still return to IOSH for membership.

As a health and safety professional with a Level 3 qualification, IOSH recognises you as an ‘IOSH Technical Member‘, which shows you’ve achieved the NEBOSH General Certificate.

NEBOSH National General Certificate vs IOSH Managing Safely: Which is right for you? 

If unsure which course is right, take our short IOSH Managing Safely vs NEBOSH National General Certificate quiz below.

Q: Are you responsible for health and safety at work?

A: No. If you’re not yet responsible or accountable for health and safety at work, you’re best suited to IOSH Managing Safely because it’s a course that improves your hazard awareness as a manager.

Ready to Bolster Your Management CV?
Book Your IOSH Managing Safely Today

Book your course, find out more or talk to our learning advisors…

IOSH Logo - Approved Provider 932

If you answered ‘Yes’, you need a course that shows you how to make the safest decisions when you’re accountable for the consequences. Move onto the next question to see if you need to take the NEBOSH National General Certificate In Occupational Health And Safety.

Q: Have you completed any health and safety training before?

A: No. If you haven’t had any training, the IOSH Managing Safely course is the best place to start, as it’s a level 2 entry-level course. Managing Safely is the next step if you’ve already completed a basic awareness course, like fire safety or Safety, health and environment (SHE) for construction training.

If you already have Managing Safely on your CV, the General Certificate is the next rung on the health and safety qualification ladder.

Q: Have you completed any risk assessment training?

A: If you answer ‘No’, both IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH National General Certificate cover risk assessment topics. If you’ve never completed or experienced a risk assessment, IOSH walks you through the process and tests your understanding to ensure you can handle it in the field.

If you answered ‘Yes’, risk assessments might already be part and parcel of your day job, so you understand the mechanics! The level 3 NEBOSH would be more appropriate for your skill and expertise. The General Certificate also asks you to prove your knowledge with a practical risk assessment.

Q: Have you already completed and passed a level 2 health and safety course?

A: If you answered ‘No’ and you haven’t got a level 2, it might seem obvious that you need to start with IOSH. But if you have several years of experience on the job, IOSH Managing Safely might be too basic for you.

You can start with a level 3 qualification, even if you don’t have a level 2. It’s not usually recommended because you need to get into the swing of the academic approach and way of thinking – but it’s achievable if you are committed to putting the work in.

Ready for Technical Membership?
Book Your NEBOSH General Today

Book your course, find out more or talk to our learning advisors…

NEBOSH Gold Logo

Any further questions?

If you’d like to know more about NEBOSH or IOSH, the courses they offer and whether they’re the right courses for you and your organisation, take a look at our NEBOSH FAQ page, our IOSH FAQ page, or get in touch with our team of NEBOSH or IOSH experts. 

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
Share This Article

Which Safety Course is For You

Schedule a call with a Learning Advisor

Subscribe to Our Blog

Similar Articles...

Group of Health and Safety learners
Health and Safety
Matthew Channell

What is IOSH and What Does it Do?

What does IOSH stand for? If you have anything to do with Health and Safety, you probably know a little about IOSH. But you may