Health and Safety Diploma Vs NVQ

Careers By Matthew Coombes

If you’re looking for a degree level qualification in occupational health and safety, there are three main options.

You can attend a full three-year bachelor’s degree at a university that offers health and safety, or you can study an NVQ Level 5 or National Diploma with ACT, which is often much cheaper and faster.

All three of the routes mentioned are suitable for anyone looking to achieve Graduate membership level with IOSH.

ACT offer both the City & Guilds NVQ Level 5 Occupational health and Safety (3654), and the new NEBOSH National Diploma. Both of these qualifications are equivalent to completing a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety.

A little bit about the NEBOSH Diploma

NEBOSH have recently released an updated specification for the NEBOSH National and International Diploma. The latest specification, the NEBOSH National Diploma for Occupational Health and Safety Management Professionals, includes a fully redesigned assessment process and criteria and has re-aligned this prestigious qualification with the needs of the modern professional.

The new assessment process may be familiar to anyone that has previously undertaken a National Vocational Qualification, because the new assessments rely on project-based assignments as opposed to traditional exams.

A little bit about the NVQ Level 5

The City & Guilds Level 5 qualification in Occupational Health and Safety has been a popular route for busy professionals and those less confident with exams for many years. There’s no set assessment dates and no pass/fail exams with an NVQ, so essentially you can’t fail an NVQ course.

Work is submitted against an assessment criterion to display your understanding and that you have met the requirements of the assessment. For example, you may be required to create or show proof that you already manage a management system for a specific type of risk, as a means to show understanding of management systems and procedures.


Qualification Level

Both the NEBOSH National Diploma and the NVQ Level 5 are equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree.

NEBOSH Diploma course content

The new National Diploma covers everything that a health and safety professional could need. It includes three separately assessed units:
ND1 – Know – workplace health and safety principles
ND2 – Do – controlling workplace health issues
ND3 – Do – controlling workplace safety issues

The course is designed to give you all of the knowledge, understanding and skills that you will need in order to have a successful career in health and safety including:

  • Understanding health and safety legislation systems and enforcement
  • Positively influencing safety leadership, structure and understanding human factors
  • Monitoring, reviewing and auditing health and safety management systems
  • Controlling a wide range of workplace health, wellbeing and safety issues

NVQ Course content

The NVQ focuses on developing your competency as a health and safety professional including key skills such as communication, improvement of safety culture, risk control, implementing and maintaining safe systems of work and behavioural safety at work.

It is worth noting that…
…Because both of the qualifications are aimed at the same level, and a very similar audience, there is quite a lot of similarity in the course content.

Attending the course

Attending the NEBOSH Diploma

The NEBOSH Diploma course is attended at set dates.

We’ve split the course into three lots of 10-day study periods, one for each of the units of the syllabus. Each study period is a face-to-face classroom course taught by one of our expert NEBOSH tutors.

You can start your course with any of the three units, but will need to complete them all in order to achieve the qualification.

Attending an NVQ

The NVQ is designed to be flexible – there are no set dates to attend and you can upload your evidence to the e-portfolio at any time.

Course duration

How long does it take to achieve a NEBOSH Diploma?

The NEBOSH National Diploma is taken over 18 months to 3 years.

We have scheduled multiple dates for each of the units allowing you to start your course with whichever unit you prefer. To read in more detail on how long it takes to achieve a NEBOSH Qualification click here.

How long does it take to complete an NVQ in health and safety?

How long it takes to complete a NVQ level 5 will depend on the time that you can dedicate towards completing the work. You can get credit for work that you have already completed, and work that you complete as part of your day-to-day role, so both your starting position in an NVQ and how fast you progress through the qualification will depend entirely on you and your circumstances.
Typically, it takes between 6 and 12 months to complete the NVQ.


NEBOSH National Diploma Assessments

The new NEBOSH Diploma assessments are project-based assignments that are completed remotely. Each assessment paper is accessed online via the NEBOSH Learner Portal, on a date that is set by NEBOSH. For each assessment you will have between 20 and 30 working days (4-6 weeks) to research, write, proof and submit your assessment. Assessments are held twice a year for each unit.

NVQ Assessments

Our NVQs use an online portfolio of work which you will submit against the criteria of the qualification. This allows you to get credit for work that you have already completed as part of your health and safety role.
You gradually submit evidence of your competence to criteria via the e-portfolio system. You can do this at any time.

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