NEBOSH, NVQ, or NCRQ?

There are three main higher-level qualifications in the field of health and safety. Each one has it's own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your individual needs and preferences.

NEBOSH

NEBOSH have operated for over 30 years, and used to be the only option for those wishing to gain a qualification in health and safety. NEBOSH qualifications are assessed largely by formal examinations, with a final project report. NEBOSH have a general certificate at Level 3 - which is equivalent to A-level standard, and a general diploma at Level 6 - which is equivalent to degree level standard.

NVQ

NVQ - National Vocational Qualifications - are available at two levels, broadly equivalent to NEBOSH and NCRQ. An NVQ is simply an assessment of existing knowledge and skills, and does not necessarily involve any learning. These are suitable if you are already working in a safety-related role with some degree of autonomy, and simply require formal recognition of your existing knowledge and skills. Assessment is undertaken by the creation of a detailed portfolio of evidence that you will have generated in your current employment. Because of the lack of exams or assignments, they are also most suitable for those with lots of discipline, and who are able to generate a quantity of written reports

NCRQ

NCRQ qualifications include the same knowledge outcomes as NEBOSH, however recognising that knowledge alone does not make a competent safety professional, they also teach and assess softer skills - such as confidently making and justifying decisions, and managing organisational and cultural change. Students are taught how to teach and problem-solve themselves, encouraging independence, rather than being given a textbook and powerpoint slides to digest and memorise. Assessment is by a series of assignments - more reflective of real life than exams - and the focus is often on the application of knowledge and analysis that has been undertaken, rather than the actual final conclusions by the student. NCRQ qualifications are most suitable for those who prefer realistic assignments than exams or academic-style essays, those who also want to learn skills in addition to knowledge, and those who prefer learning by doing rather than memorisation of lists of facts. There is no need to be working in a safety-related environment, in contrast to NVQs. Unlike NEBOSH, both the certificate and diploma level qualifications are at Level 6 - so that the basic principles learned in the certificate count towards one third of the full diploma. For those unsure about embarking on a Level 6 qualification from the outset, a sample of the workbook is available here for you to get an idea if the academic challenges are suitable for you. The NCRQ Diploma is now the most popular Diploma-level health and safety qualification in the UK.

Comparision of NEBOSH, NVQ, and NCRQ qualifications

The tables below summarise the various aspects of the qualifications, to enable you to determine which is best for you.

Certificate level qualifications

Qualification QCF level / length Accreditation Teaching methods Assessment methods Tutor support Total cost of course incl VAT and first exam fees Comments
NEBOSH National General Certificate Level 3, 120 hours IOSH Associate and Technical Classroom based or distance learning Two x two-hour exams, plus two hour workplace practical Varies with provider, normally office hours only Between £474 – £1610
C&G NVQ Level 3 in Health and Safety Level 3, about 6 months IOSH Associate and Technical No learning – evidence based only Portfolio of evidence Varies with provider, normally office hours only Between £1052 – £3600 Must be working as a safety manager or advisor
NCRQ Certificate in Applied Health and Safety Level 6, 140 hours IOSH Associate and Technical Distance learning via case study-based learning Three short assignments, plus one longer assignment Seven days a week, and until 8pm Mon – Fri £660 Counts towards NCRQ Diploma

Diploma level qualifications

Qualification QCF level / length Accreditation Teaching methods Assessment methods Tutor support Total cost of course incl VAT and first exam fees Comments
NEBOSH National Diploma Level 6, 470 hours IOSH Graduate and Chartered Classroom based or distance learning Three x three-hour exams, plus one 8,000 word project Varies with provider, normally office hours only Between £1685 – £3295
C&G NVQ Level 6 in Health and Safety Level 5, about 12 months IOSH Graduate and Chartered No learning – evidence based only Portfolio of evidence Varies with provider, normally office hours only Between £1620 – £4224 Must be working as an experienced safety manager or advisor
NCRQ Diploma in Applied Health and Safety Level 6, 470 hours* IOSH Graduate and Chartered Distance learning via case study-based learning Six short assignments, plus three longer assignments Seven days a week, and until 8pm Mon – Fri £1800 *or 330 hours if NCRQ Certficate completed

Small print

More learners enrolled on the NCRQ Diploma in Applied Health and Safety than the NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety 01/04/16 – 31/03/17. Source: NEBOSH annual report 2017. NEBOSH and NCRQ charge extra for re-sits or re-submissions of failed exams or assessments, currently £82 for a NEBOSH Diploma exam, and £30+VAT for an NCRQ assessment. Prices correct at 19/09/17 and apply to UK students. Range of prices based on upfront purchase of full qualification by distance learning, using NEBOSH website as provider source (NEBOSH) or first 50 google hits (NVQ) verification here.

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