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What is the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH?



What is IOSH?

What is NEBOSH?

Mix IOSH and NEBOSH qualifications

NEBSOH General Certificate vs IOSH Managing Safely

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Amanda Bathory-Griffiths

Amanda is TSW's content marketing manager. 

She has a background in personal finance and corporate learning, working for national brands and global agencies.

There are several educational bodies offering health and safety training. IOSH and NEBOSH are two of the most well-known and respected.  

Key points

  • Both IOSH and NEBOSH offer health and safety qualifications from Level 2 up. If you want a career in health and safety, look to NEBOSH, but if you're after awareness training for non- health and safety specialists, IOSH 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 with members, whereas NEBOSH is an awarding examination board 


If you don't have any responsibilities for health and safety, working in a low-risk environment, or you're dipping your toe into health and safety, IOSH courses give you an overview of best practice and the tools to control hazards.

NEBSOH courses are more appropriate if you're a skilled health and safety worker, angling for a career in management.

But both are well-respected and recognised, plus evidence that your skills are up to date and you're complying with the law.

Most people start with the IOSH Working Safely and Managing Safely. If they enjoy it and want a career in health and safety, they can move onto NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.   

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

What is IOSH?

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, or as it's more widely known, 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 in the world, with 48,000 members worldwide.

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 uni, among other world-leading organisations. 

IOSH courses

If you're at the beginning of your health and safety career, IOSH's Working Safely and Managing Safely courses give you a solid start spotting and controlling hazards in the workplace.

But you don't have to be a health and safety specialist, or even have a risk management related role to take IOSH courses.

Its qualifications are designed to raise the standards of health and safety for everyone, in any business, in any industry.

Working Safely is the 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. 

Managing Safely is a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to a GCSE) which takes three days, an exam and a practical project to complete. If you pass successfully, you leave with heightened hazard perception and risk assessment know-how, plus a certificate to prove your knowledge.

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

What is NEBOSH?

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), is an awarding body. It too is based in the UK and offers 18 qualifications in health, safety and environmental management.

NEBOSH courses

The NEBOSH General Certificate is a Level 2 qualification, equivalent to an A Level. It's more challenging than the starter courses and needs a greater time and financial commitment.   

It’s specifically for professionals who want a career in health and safety management. NEBOSH has a rating system – Gold, Silver and Bronze – so you can pick which training provider is right for you.   

Again, 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 so you're prepared for the content within the syllabus

To pass the General Certificate, you must pass an open book exam and a practical risk assessment project. If you've already done the IOSH Managing Safely course, it's a familiar format. 

Mix IOSH and NEBOSH qualifications

The conventional pathway is to take Level 2 IOSH Managing Safely, before moving onto Level 3 NEBOSH General Certificate.

But there's no preferred pathway. If you plump for IOSH Level 3 Health and Safety for Business, it's still equivalent to the NEBSOH General Certificate.

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 come back to IOSH for membership.  

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

NEBSOH General Certificate vs IOSH Managing Safely


NEBOSH General Certificate 

IOSH Managing Safely 

Who can take the course? 

Health and safety professionals including line managers, HR Managers and operational managers 

Anyone who works in an environment with risks and wants to know more about controlling hazards

Course length 

10 days in the training centre or virtually with a trainer, plus 53 study hours

Three days in the training centre or virtually with a trainer


Two essay exams and a practical workplace assessment 

One multiple-choice exam and a practical risk assessment project 

Is it accredited? 



Do I need to repeat the training? 

No, but you are lawfully required to keep your health and safety skills fresh 

It's not mandatory, but you are lawfully required to keep your health and safety skills fresh