NEBOSH Diploma vs NVQ Level 5

"I've got a level 3 health and safety qualification, what's next?"

When you've reached level 3 and want to keep moving forward in your career, the NEBOSH diploma and NVQ5 in Occupational Health and Safety are two equally worthwhile but very different options. The question is which one's right for you right now? Use this quick Q&A guide to see the differences at a glance and make the right decision.

What is your current knowledge level and experience?

NEBOSH Diploma - Suitable for health and safety practitioners with previous knowledge and experience. Also for candidates not working in a health and safety role but with a level 3 qualification.

NVQ Level 5 - Suitable for health and safety practitioners in a senior management role with at least 5 years' experience.

How do you prefer to study?

NEBOSH Diploma - The NEBOSH diploma can be taught in the classroom or by distance learning.

NVQ Level 5 - NVQ5 is not a taught programme. It is a vocational qualification in which the candidate develops a work-based portfolio for assessment.

How long will it take?

NEBOSH Diploma - The diploma consists of four units, spread over 500 teaching hours. The units can be taken in any order over a 5-year period.

NVQ Level 5 - Can be taken at the candidate's chosen pace. Courses last one year on average, although it is technically possible to complete in 10 to 12 weeks. The total qualification time is 401 hours, plus 126 guided learning hours. Phoenix support is offered for 18 months, with additional payment required for a longer period. Registration with the awarding body expires after 3 years.

What does each course cover?

NEBOSH Diploma The diploma's four units cover:

  • Managing health and safety
  • Hazardous substances and agents
  • Workplace and work equipment safety
  • An 8-12,000 word written project reviewing the health and safety performance of an organisation

NVQ Level 5

  • 10 mandatory units
  • A choice of optional units, one of which must be completed

How will you be assessed?

NEBOSH Diploma - Units A, B and C are each assessed by a 3-hour written exam. Unit DNI is a practical assignment assessed and marked.

NVQ Level 5 - A portfolio of evidence is submitted, encompassing each unit taken by the candidate. Each unit's work is assessed against the core competencies.

What support is provided?

NEBOSH Diploma

  • Dedicated tutor with direct access via email, messenger and phone
  • Study books
  • Complimentary online library of extra reading, videos, learning aids and student activities
  • Weekly webinars
  • Monthly revision supplements
  • Mock exams
  • Dedicated tutor support for projects
  • Connect with other students via special social media channels

NVQ Level 5

  • Dedicated assessor to provide guidance throughout the process
  • Contact via phone, Skype and email
  • Monthly newsletter

What are the advantages?

NEBOSH Diploma

  • Academic degree-level qualification
  • Knowledge transferrable across different industries
  • Qualification recognised globally and industry-wide
  • Complements other NEBOSH qualifications
  • Often requested by employers
  • Holders can use DipNEBOSH after their name
  • Holders meet the academic requirements of Chartered Status (CMIOSH) and the requirements of GradiOSH status

NVQ Level 5

  • No exams, just work-based assessment
  • Based on workplace and existing practices, so analysis can be valuable to employer
  • Recognised globally and industry-wide
  • No time away from work required
  • Lower-cost alternative
  • Holders meet the academic requirements of Chartered Status (CMIOSH) and the requirements of GradiOSH status

What are the disadvantages?

NEBOSH Diploma

  • Requires a high degree of candidate commitment

NVQ Level 5

  • Requires existing knowledge and experience to meet the qualification criteria
  • Less transferable knowledge to future roles and different industry sectors

What's the cost?

NEBOSH Diploma

  • £4995 classroom
  • £1195 distance learning

NVQ Level 5

  • £1795

Want to know more?

Visit our NEBOSH National Diploma page:

Find Out More


Visit our Level 5 NVQ Diploma page

Find Out More