Want to learn more about NEBOSH and it's meaning?

NEBOSH, the authority on occupational health and safety training, offers qualifications that are essential for career advancement in the safety field. In this article, we unpack what is NEBOSH, its role, its qualifications, global reach, and the potential impact on your professional growth.

 Key Takeaways

  • NEBOSH, established in 1979, offers a comprehensive range of globally recognised health and safety qualifications developed with input from employers and experts, relevant across diverse industries.

  • The NEBOSH qualifications range from introductory Awards to the Certificate and advanced Diploma levels, providing a complete pathway for professional growth in occupational health and safety.

  • NEBOSH certifications enhance career prospects and are highly valued by employers, with diploma holders eligible for memberships in professional bodies and commanding high salaries across various sectors.

NEBOSH logo on a global map

Demystifying NEBOSH: The Keystone of Health and Safety Qualifications

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, also known as NEBOSH, is instrumental in establishing global health and safety benchmarks via its qualifications. These qualifications, offered in multiple languages, are developed with input from employers, regulatory bodies, and subject experts, ensuring their relevance and rigor.

These qualifications are applicable to a wide range of individuals, encompassing managers, supervisors, and workers in charge of health and safety, hence they are relevant in almost every work environment. Whether it’s a local business or a multinational corporation, the health and safety principles promoted by NEBOSH qualifications contribute to safer and healthier work environments.

The Origin and Mission of NEBOSH

NEBOSH, established in 1979, was conceived with the clear objective of enhancing standards of health, safety, and environmental compliance in workplaces via accredited qualifications. Over the years, the organization has developed a suite of 33 qualifications, demonstrating its commitment to a diverse range of professional roles and industries within the field of health, safety, and the environment.

Under the leadership of its founding Chair, Richard Booth, NEBOSH registered as a charity in 1992, emphasizing its dedication to education and public benefit.

The first NEBOSH examination, held in 1980, marked the start of the organization’s commitment to setting professional standards in health and safety.

NEBOSH's Global Footprint

Occupational safety and health training examinations conducted by NEBOSH are held across more than 130 countries, illustrating the organization’s substantial global impact. The NEBOSH International General Certificate, undertaken by more than 170,000 individuals globally, highlights its widespread international appeal.

In its commitment to delivering internationally pertinent and acknowledged qualifications, NEBOSH collaborates with various professional bodies and institutions around the world. This commitment was recognized when NEBOSH was granted the esteemed Queen’s Award for Enterprise in April 2014 for its outstanding achievement in international trade.

NEBOSH Qualification Spectrum

NEBOSH Qualification Spectrum: From Awareness to Expertise

NEBOSH provides a wide array of qualifications, tailored to varying levels of proficiency and career goals. These qualifications are categorised into Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas, providing a comprehensive pathway for anyone interested in a career in occupational health and safety.

From foundational understanding of health and safety principles offered by the Award-level qualifications to the advanced-level diplomas for professionals, NEBOSH truly caters to all levels of interest and expertise. This breadth of qualifications is what sets NEBOSH apart, making it a trusted name in the field of health and safety.

Entry-Level NEBOSH Awards

Serving as the gateway into health and safety qualifications, NEBOSH Awards provide an essential introduction to principles of health and safety. The NEBOSH Health and Safety at Work Award, for instance, is suitable for team leaders, supervisors, HR professionals, facilities managers, and anyone new to health and safety.

There are no formal entry requirements for this award, signifying its openness to all individuals new to health and safety. The course requires a minimum of 23 hours, including taught hours, self-study, and assessment. So, if you’re just starting in the health and safety field, the NEBOSH Awards could be an excellent place to begin.

The NEBOSH Certificate Pathway

For individuals with health and safety management duties, the NEBOSH Certificate Pathway provides exhaustive training. For example, the NEBOSH National General Certificate offers a thorough understanding of occupational health and safety for managers, supervisors, and those with safety management roles. This certification serves as a comprehensive foundation in this field.

This certificate is equivalent to an A-Level and is recognized by prestigious organizations such as Thames Water, Kier, and the Football Association. Moreover, the NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety caters to a global audience, reflecting the universal need for safe work environments.

Advanced NEBOSH Diplomas

NEBOSH provides advanced diplomas for individuals aspiring to attain upper-level positions in health and safety management. These are recognized as degree-level qualifications that align with professional health and safety roles and Chartered status.

The curriculum for these diplomas goes beyond risk assessment and emphasizes effective control of health and safety risks in the workplace. Moreover, diploma holders have the opportunity to advance in their health and safety career to highly recognised qualifications like the NVQ Level 6 Diploma in Health and Safety, providing avenues for further professional development for health and safety professionals.

Health and safety professional undertaking NEBOSH training

The Impact of NEBOSH Training on Your Safety Career

Valued in the health and safety industry, NEBOSH qualifications are mentioned in 90% of safety role job adverts in the UK. Many employers deem the NEBOSH National General Certificate essential for full-time health and safety positions, making it a priority for prospective employees in multiple industries.

Not only do these qualifications enhance career prospects, but they also increase professional recognition. Global companies such as:

  • Maersk

  • Shell

  • BP

  • Skanska

Companies around the world entrust NEBOSH for their health and safety training programs, signifying the value placed on NEBOSH-trained safety professionals.

Professional Recognition and Membership

Numerous professional associations recognize NEBOSH qualifications, thereby providing avenues for membership and enhancing professional stature. For instance, diploma holders can qualify for various categories of IOSH memberships based on their individual experience and qualifications.

Moreover, NEBOSH has introduced designatory letters for holders of its higher-level qualifications, enabling professional recognition. These qualifications are recognized by multiple professional associations such as the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM) and the Association for Project Safety (APS), offering membership paths for professionals.

Salary and Job Prospects

Individuals with NEBOSH certifications are highly sought after, which leads to a higher market salary for these qualified professionals. In the consulting sector, for example, NEBOSH-certified professionals earn an average salary of GBP 43,000, with public and utilities sectors following at GBP 38,000 and GBP 33,000 respectively.

NEBOSH-qualified candidates are also in high demand in sectors like construction engineering and manufacturing, where salaries can reach up to GBP 50,000 and GBP 46,000 respectively. Furthermore, NEBOSH National Diploma holders have job prospects across diverse sectors with salaries ranging from GBP 34,000 to GBP 65,000.

NEBOSH professional conducting a practical risk assessment

NEBOSH in Practice: Applying Knowledge to the Workplace

Professionals trained by NEBOSH make substantial contributions towards creating safer and healthier working conditions. The qualifications impart essential competencies for:

  • Minimising workplace risks

  • Leading to fewer injuries and illnesses

  • Contributing to improved employee wellbeing

  • Promoting organizational health and safety culture.

Learners are trained to practically apply their NEBOSH knowledge by identifying potential hazards, conducting thorough risk assessments, and instituting appropriate control measures. These skills are applicable across diverse work conditions, enabling professionals to manage health and safety risks effectively in various sectors.

Risk Management and Practical Assessment

NEBOSH qualifications emphasize health and safety management, including workplace hazard recognition, risk assessment principles, and incident investigation. The NEBOSH assessment process integrates an open book exam based on realistic workplace scenarios, allowing learners to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge they have gained.

For the practical assessment component of NEBOSH examinations, candidates must conduct a comprehensive risk assessment in their workplace, recording various hazards and suggesting prioritized actions based on severity and likelihood. This real-world application of knowledge ensures that NEBOSH-qualified professionals are fully equipped to:

  • Identify and assess health and safety risks in their workplaces

  • Develop effective control measures to mitigate those risks

  • Implement and monitor the effectiveness of the control measures

  • Continuously improve health and safety performance in their organisations.

Incident Investigation and Environmental Management

Alongside risk management, NEBOSH qualifications also cover incident investigation and environmental management. For instance, the NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation qualification is aimed at effective investigation of non-complex incidents.

This qualification is suited for those responsible for investigating incidents in the workplace, such as employers, supervisors, safety champions, union and safety representatives. Learners are taught how to independently investigate straightforward incidents, gather evidence, conduct witness interviews, and create an action plan to avoid future occurrences.

NEBOSH Examinations and Assessments: What to Expect

NEBOSH qualifications’ examination and assessment processes aim to assess learners’ comprehension and their capacity to apply health and safety knowledge. NEBOSH introduced digital assessment for the General Certificate in August 2020 to adapt to the evolving educational sector needs.

Examination results are usually issued within 50 working days from the examination date or assignment submission. To pass the NEBOSH National General Certificate, learners must pass both NG1 and NG2 units; the final grade for the qualification is derived from the results of NG1, although NG2 must also be passed.

The Examination Process

Open book exams and practical assessments form part of the examination process for NEBOSH qualifications. The NEBOSH International General Certificate, for instance, includes a two-step assessment process comprised of an open book examination (IG1) and a subsequent practical risk assessment (IG2).

Examination questions are crafted to evaluate various critical skills such as:

  • analysis

  • evaluation

  • creativity

  • critical thinking

All of these skills are tied closely to the qualification’s syllabus and learning outcomes. For the practical assessment, achieving a minimum of 45 marks is needed to pass, and candidates have the option to resit if they don’t succeed within a five-year period from starting the course.

Coursework and Practical Assignments

NEBOSH courses include coursework and practical assignments as key components. They are designed to assess a learner’s understanding and ability to apply health and safety knowledge.

Written examinations are used to assess learners in various NEBOSH courses, testing their theoretical competence in health and safety. For the practical component, NEBOSH includes assignments like completing a fire safety risk assessment for the FC2 unit or a risk assessment based on a video for one-day qualifications.

Advancing with NEBOSH: Further Education and Opportunities

NEBOSH, in collaboration with the University of Hull, offers advanced Master of Science (MSc) degrees for individuals aiming to extend their education in occupational health, safety, and environmental management.

These MSc programs are designed for those who have completed their NEBOSH Diploma and are seeking to further their academic and professional qualifications via online distance learning over a two-year period, including a research dissertation. Entry into these MSc programs requires candidates to hold a NEBOSH National or International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, a NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management or equivalent qualifications.

Navigating NEBOSH Eligibility and Entry Requirements

With minimal entry requirements, NEBOSH courses cater to a diverse range of individuals. Most NEBOSH courses do not require prior work experience in health and safety, making the Award and Certificate Level qualifications suitable for newcomers.

The minimum age for NEBOSH course enrolment generally starts at 16 years, though it may vary by qualification. There are usually no mandatory educational prerequisites for enrolling in NEBOSH courses; however, having at least secondary education or equivalent may be beneficial.

Candidates with disabilities or those who need additional support can avail accommodations and assistance during NEBOSH exams.


In conclusion, NEBOSH qualifications play a pivotal role in enhancing occupational health and safety standards globally. From foundational awards to advanced diplomas, these qualifications provide a comprehensive pathway for anyone interested in a health and safety career. They not only enhance career prospects and professional recognition but also enable professionals to create safer work environments and effectively manage health and safety risks. So, whether you’re a newcomer to the field or an experienced professional, NEBOSH has a qualification to help you advance your career and make workplaces safer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better IOSH or NEBOSH?

In conclusion, NEBOSH is better if you're seeking more comprehensive and in-depth knowledge in health and safety and aiming for high-paying job offers in the industry due to its global recognition. Ultimately, it's essential to consider your career goals and the level of HSE responsibility in your role before making a decision.

How long is a NEBOSH course?

A NEBOSH General Certificate takes 80-120 hours to complete, depending on the delivery method chosen.

What is a NEBOSH equivalent to?

The NEBOSH General Certificate is equivalent to a UK A-level, while the NEBOSH Diploma is equal to a UK University Degree. Both certifications have different assessment requirements and levels of difficulty (source: NEBOSH website).

Is NEBOSH hard to pass?

Yes, the NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma is considered challenging, but it's a valuable investment for a rewarding career in Health and Safety. It's highly respected in the field.

What is a NEBOSH qualification?

A NEBOSH qualification is an internationally recognised certification in health, safety, and environmental management, awarded by the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).


  Published on 05 March 2024 By Gary Holland

About Gary Holland

Chartered Health and Safety professional, with extensive knowledge of creating and implementing health and safety, environmental and quality management systems to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 / ISO 45001 standard.

Experience in working with a number of high profile clients in demanding and high-risk industries, including; Utilities, Construction, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy (offshore and onshore wind), Defense, Nuclear and Public sector.

I am able to understand client’s needs and expectations and deliver projects to high standards, implementing best practice above compliance.