People often ask us about the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH, is one better than the other? Which qualification should they go for? And what are IOSH and NEBOSH?
Hopefully, this article can shed some light, help you make a decision on the qualification best for you, and give you some helpful advice.
So what are IOSH and NEBOSH?
Well, they are both similar in the sense that they are awarding organisations that provide syllabuses and criteria for well respected and widely recognised qualifications. Both IOSH and NEBOSH offer a range of courses, aimed at different levels and a variety of industries. They are continually working to create more courses and qualifications to fill in skills gaps within the health and safety industry.
What’s the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH?
IOSH and NEBOSH are both organisations that provide health and safety training, however there are some differences between the two:
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is primarily focused on promoting and maintaining high standards of health and safety in the workplace. The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) focuses on providing internationally recognized qualifications in health, safety, and environmental management.
IOSH provides a range of membership levels, including technical and professional membership, while NEBOSH provides a range of qualifications, including certificate and diploma level courses. In addition, IOSH offers some specialist courses in topics such as fire safety and construction health and safety, while NEBOSH offers a broader range of courses covering health, safety, and environmental management.
IOSH is an accrediting body for health and safety training courses, while NEBOSH is an examination board. This means that IOSH accredits training providers who meet their standards, while NEBOSH sets the standards for their qualifications and assesses candidates’ performance through exams.
Both IOSH and NEBOSH are recognised and respected in the health and safety industry, but NEBOSH has a more global recognition with qualifications that are recognized in over 130 countries.
The main difference between the two is that IOSH is a Chartered Body and a membership organisation, the largest health and safety professional membership organisation as it goes.
Does it matter? It matters depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Depending on the job role you’re going for, one qualification will probably benefit you more over another.
IOSH vs NEBOSH Qualifications
Both organisations offer a range of courses, NEBOSH seems to have more because they have qualifications targeted at a National and International level as well as at specific industries. IOSH’s most popular courses, however, focus on the level you are in a business, regardless of industry (worker, manager, director).
IOSH will approve bespoke courses for training providers though, so if you see a course offered by a provider not listed here, they may have created it themselves and asked IOSH to approve it. For a full list of qualifications, please see the end of the blog.
A lot of health and safety job roles ask for you to be a member of a health and safety membership body. They often ask for a certain level and mention IOSH. For example, a recent job advert from the British Transport Police for a health and safety advisor asked candidates to be a “Technical member of IOSH or equivalent membership body”.
What do you get from a membership organisation? Well, it’s a great way to show potential employers that you are continually developing your skills and keeping up to date as the industry moves forward. You can network, ask for advice or even join a mentorship program.
It brings with it plenty of benefits but how much you can benefit depends on your situation and career goals, take a look at our blog on why you should invest in an IOSH membership for more information, and if you’re interested, get in touch with the team at IOSH.
It’s also worth mentioning that, while anyone can become an IOSH member, to get higher levels of membership such as Associate or Technical membership, you need to have a health and safety qualification. They accept quite a few different qualifications; you can find a list of IOSH Membership Categories here. The NEBOSH National Certificate is one of them, and with NEBOSH reporting that 9 in 10 health & safety job roles ask for either the NEBOSH qualification, IOSH membership or both, it could be worth using the NEBOSH for your membership.
As mentioned, NEBOSH also has a membership program for Diploma Alumni (graduates and former students). It’s free to join for anyone who has completed a diploma-level NEBOSH qualification, but you won’t automatically be included, you’ll need to join.
NEBOSH Alumni offers some of the benefits of IOSH membership, including being able to network with others and an ongoing programme of CPD events to stay current with the industry. An big advantage of signing up to join is that it’s free.
IOSH or NEBOSH Membership?
Currently, IOSH have more members, and although job roles often ask for membership to a health and safety body, they commonly mention IOSH membership specifically. So keep that in mind when choosing. It’d be fair to assume that most individuals with diplomas are probably members of NEBOSH Alumni and IOSH.
So should I get a NEBOSH or IOSH qualification?
The popular IOSH Working and IOSH Managing Safely courses are perfect if your primary role is not health and safety; they also apply to any industry. Often companies put their staff on these courses to help improve the health and safety culture of their workplace, particularly managers on the IOSH Managing Safely course.
It’s a great way to give your managers the knowledge they need to keep staff safe, what they are responsible for, and how to make improvements. Without boring them with the information they won’t need as health and safety is not the core part of their role.
The Managing Safely is also a great starting point for people looking to start a career in health and safety, and some health and safety job roles do say it would be ideal for you to hold an IOSH qualification.
As people progress in their careers though, or if they are more confident, they progress or go straight to NEBOSH’s most popular course, the National General Certificate.
Ideal for those looking to start a career in health and safety, most job descriptions for health and safety roles require IOSH Membership and the NEBOSH National General Certificate qualification, and as mentioned above, the NEBOSH Certificate can help you gain IOSH membership.
Which will land you that job?
We get a lot of people comparing IOSH and NEBOSH who are looking for a new job role or taking the next step in their career. Who better to tell you which direction to go than someone in the industry with years of experience matching people with a role in health and safety.
Josh Huggins is Director of Principal People a recruitment organisation who specialise within Health, Safety, Environment and Quality. We asked Josh to share his insights into some common questions we get asked along with any advice he would give someone getting into the industry.
People often ask what’s the best course to get into the health and safety industry, what would you say to them?
Although there are other qualifications available, we believe that the fundamental course most hiring managers look for is the Nebosh Certificate. This is a level 3 qualification and equivalent to a UK A level.
The qualification comes in a variety of specialisms including Fire and Construction, however, the General Certificate (NGC) is the most widely taken.
Which membership organisation should job seekers join?
The main membership body is IOSH (The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) and this is a great place to start as you can join without any qualifications.
Other membership bodies which are also interesting to consider include; IRM (Institute of Risk Management), IIRSM (International Institute of Risk & Safety Management), the British Safety Council, ROSPA and, for more technical areas of fire safety, IFE (Institution of Fire Engineers) or IFSM (Institute of Fire Safety Managers).
Should job seekers consider the new(ish) level 3 IOSH course, or do employers still expect NEBOSH?
Whilst we have seen the launch of this qualification, it is still very early in its delivery. The course looks interesting and varied with more business context content, but time will tell if it becomes as widely recognised and expected as a Nebosh certificate.
Do you have any other comments or advice for job seekers?
Whilst qualifications are important, it is also equally key to try and get work experience and sometimes this may even be unpaid.
Also, it is important to have a mentor, to help you develop your career further. Our Safety4Good mentoring programme provides this free opportunity.
Hopefully, this helps you feel confident when choosing your next health and safety course. However, if you are still unsure, would like some advice or would like to speak to a course tutor for more information please get in touch.
- Award in Health and Safety at Work
- Health, Safety and Environment in the Process Industries Qualification
- Environmental Awareness at Work Qualification
- National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
- National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety
- International Certificate in Construction Health and Safety
- National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management
- International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
- Certificate in Environmental Management
- International Technical Certificate in Oil and Gas Process Safety
- National Certificate in Management of Health and Well-being at work
- International Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management
- National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
- International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
- National Diploma In Environmental Management
- International Diploma in Environmental Management