NEBOSH or IOSH – How to Choose the Right Certification?

Health and Safety Qualifications

Whether you’re starting out in health and safety or already have some experience, you’ll need a relevant qualification. NEBOSH or IOSH certification provide the specific knowledge and skills you need to work in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).

This is where NEBOSH and IOSH come in. Both of these organisations offer well-recognised qualifications that can make you competent in maintaining workplace health and safety. But which one should you go for? Is one better than the other? Let’s compare and contrast.

What are IOSH and NEBOSH?


The Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) is a globally recognised chartered body. IOSH are the leading authority on health and safety competence, and provide internationally recognised training.

IOSH at a glance:

  • Created in 1945
  • Operates in 130 countries
  • Has 48,000 members
  • Around 179,000 people gain an IOSH qualification each year

Any health and safety certification from IOSH is a mark of quality. IOSH gives health and safety guidance to governments, charities and policymakers. The scope of their training reaches from workers at the sharp end, up to executives.


The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), are similar to IOSH. They provide globally recognised Health, Safety and Environment qualifications. NEBOSH are also respected by governments, policy makers and their learners.

NEBOSH at a glance:

  • Created in 1979
  • Operates in 130 countries
  • 550,000 people around the world with a NEBOSH qualification
  • Tens of thousands join NEBOSH each year

NEBOSH certificates are aimed at health and safety advisors and environmental practitioners.

IOSH Managing Safely

Learn more about common workplace hazards and discover how to keep everyone safe with our IOSH Managing Safely course that helps develop and improve the safety awareness culture within the organisation or the workplace.

What’s the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH?

The main difference between IOSH and NEBOSH is that IOSH provide training content themselves, whereas NEBOSH is an examination board that provides the qualification, but not the course content.

Another difference is that IOSH has a wide range of courses for various industries. NEBOSH offer more specific courses for people in specific roles, who already have a background in health and safety.

In terms of course formats, NEBOSH exams are considered to be more academic, as they’re comprehensive with lots of content. IOSH courses are modular and less rigorous.

How do IOSH and NEBOSH Qualifications Compare?

Well, it really depends on what health and safety certification you’re looking to get. If you’re wanting a career in health and safety, NEBOSH is probably more for you. Some job specifications will require that you have a NEBOSH qualification before you’re considered for a role in health and safety.

If you’re looking for a more general health and safety course, as well as knowledge and skills that anybody can apply right away – an IOSH course is more suitable. Whether it’s to train employees on workplace health and safety, or to train you on how to manage it, there is a suitable training course available.

Flagship Qualifications

IOSH Managing Safely is their flagship course, and supports managers and supervisors for compliance with their legal, moral and financial duties in the workplace. It’s the academic equivalent of a GCSE and is also available as an e-learning course that will give you a health and safety certificate online.

The NEBOSH National General Certificate is their gold standard in health and safety qualifications. NEBOSH is great for managers and supervisors too, but is also for people who want to embark on a career in health and safety.

Quick Comparisons

IOSH Training:

  • Can be completed by anyone
  • Provide a general awareness of health and safety
  • Cover multiple industries

NEBOSH Courses:

  • Take longer to complete
  • Are aimed at a more advanced health and safety professional
  • Are more expensive than IOSH courses

Why Limit Yourself?

There’s no reason you couldn’t get both an IOSH and a NEBOSH qualification. It’s quite common to have a combination of the two. Neither qualification will expire, they remain valid indefinitely. However, you’ll need to refresh or update your knowledge as time goes on. So, refresher courses are advised.

And of course, IOSH or NEBOSH are not the only training providers out there.

Health and Safety Qualifications with Human Focus

Still unsure about what kind of health and safety course you need? Well, you can take a look on the Human Focus website for approved IOSH courses, suitable for all levels of worker.

Our library of Health and Safety accredited courses will provide workers, managers and directors with the awareness they need to do their part in occupational health and safety.

Each course is modular and discusses relevant duties, responsibilities, hazards, risks and how to control them, as well as health and safety management.

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