NEBOSH Diploma vs NEBOSH Certificate: Which one is right for you?

NEBOSH Diploma or General Certificate?

Which NEBOSH course is best for you largely depends on your occupational health and safety knowledge, experience and ability to learn. We’ve explained the difference in level, content and entry requirements to help you decide which one is best for you.

Who is the course for?

NEBOSH Diploma

Building upon the foundation of knowledge provided by the NEBOSH General Certificate, the NEBOSH Diploma is particularly relevant for health and safety managers, professionals or those with aspirations to be people with health and safety responsibilities who want to gain an in-depth understanding of health and safety management. It shows potential employers that you’re competent at managing health and safety at a high level and you’re committed to continuously improve the health and safety performance.

NEBOSH Certificate

The NEBOSH General Certificate is aimed at everyone, not just those working within a health and safety role. In fact, 70% of learners who take the NEBOSH General Certificate don’t even list health and safety as their primary responsibility, such as Operational Managers, Engineering Managers, Facility Managers or Line Managers.

Explore our blog on who is the NEBOSH General Certificate for here.

It’s best suited for those who want to gain a broad understanding of health and safety management to improve their workplace. It’s also great for those just starting out in their health and safety career, such as HSE advisors, and need to develop their skills. The NEBOSH Certificate is largely seen as the first step in a health and safety career.

Some learners hope to take the NEBOSH course but don’t have occupational health and safety knowledge or relevant experience. We would recommend that you take the NEBOSH Certificate first to build a solid foundation.

Course level

The NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma is similar to an honours degree. It’s recognised around the world as a level 6 vocational qualification within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).

As with any high-level academic course, it’s certainly not easy. It’ll take around 415 hours to complete and you’ll need to be able to prove your understanding by completing a large work-based project and three x 3-hour written exams.

The NEBOSH General Certificate is a level 3 vocational qualification, like a UK A-level. It’s recognised as a level 6 with 15 credits in the Scottish Qualification Authority.

As a foundation level course, it doesn’t require as many learning hours – 133 hours in total. Even so, it’s still a tough course to complete. Therefore, you’ll be expected to put in 53 hours of private study and complete a risk-assessment project and an open-book exam.

Course Content

Both courses teach you how to effectively manage health and safety, identify as well as control workplace hazards. However, there is a big difference in the amount of content covered in each course.

The NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma builds on the topics covered in the NEBOSH General Certificate, but in much more depth. It’s broken down into 3 units:

  • A: Managing Health and Safety
  • B: Hazardous Substances/ Agents
  • C: Workplace and Work Equipment Safety

Find out more about the NEBOSH Diploma Syllabus here.

The NEBOSH General Certificate broadly covers the key elements of managing health and safety at a foundation level. It’s broken down into 2 units:

  • Unit NG1/IG1: The Management of Health and Safety
  • Unit NG1/IG2: Risk Assessment

Learn more about the NEBOSH General Certificate Exams with our guide about the NG/IG1 and NG/IG2 assessments and exams and plan your studying schedule here.

Entry Requirements

The NEBOSH Certificate doesn’t have any entry requirements and is, therefore, suitable for anyone, at any point in their career.

Although there are no formal requirements for the NEBOSH Diploma, the course itself expands on the topics covered in the NEBOSH General Certificate. It’s always recommended that you complete the NEBOSH General Certificate before taking on the NEBOSH Diploma.

If you haven’t completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, you should have at least 5 years’ experience working within health and safety or have completed another level-3 qualification such as the Highfield Level 3 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace (RQF) to make sure you have an understanding of key health and safety topics.


Both the NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma and NEBOSH General Certificate are currently recognised by employers, governments and professional memberships.

The NEBOSH General Certificate is considered an essential qualification for the management level, while the NEBOSH Diploma is listed as a minimum requirement for more senior health and safety roles.

Both the NEBOSH National and International General Certificate are recognised around the world. Not only will it help you improve health and safety in your workplace, it’ll also open doors to job opportunities and professional memberships such as IOSH, the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board, and SAIOSH.

The NEBOSH Diploma is also accepted as a route to entry by professional organisations and certifying bodies. Examples include; IOSH, BCSP, BCRSP, BCRP, New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM) and SAIOSH, making it a truly global recognised qualification.

Get answers to your questions and help with choosing the right course for you & your team.
Horizon Risk Consultancy Ltd
3M Buckley Innovation Centre,
Firth Street, Huddersfield, HD1 3BD
Tel.: 01484 937 128
NEBOSH National Diploma Assessment Information
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