NEBOSH General Certificate or NCRQ?

This article details considerations for choosing the best health & safety management qualification for you, NEBOSH or NCRQ?



NCRQ (National Compliance and Risk Qualifications), NEBOSH and IOSH all create a syllabus for health & safety management training.  NCRQ and NEBOSH are mapped against the QCF (Qualifications Framework) IOSH is not.  This is because IOSH courses do not require externally invigilated assessments a prerequisite for QCF.

Echo3 offer all 3 courses and the information below will help you decide the right route for you or your colleagues.  This is an opinion piece from echo3.  The right choice depends on your circumstances, budget and ultimate objectives.

If you are left with questions feel free to email or call.  We are delighted to offer independent, impartial guidance.

To start, what options are available.  For a career in HSE or a role whereby you have frequent responsibility for the safety of staff you should put aside IOSH.  A formal invigilated assessment is the correct route to evidence your achievement.  I would not ask someone to undertake a complicated medical procedure without knowing that their skills have been thoughrily assessed by an independent professional assessor.

So we’re already down to NCRQ or NEBOSH.  Both offer 120 hour ‘certificate’ courses and 470 hour Diploma courses.  One key difference is that the NEBOSH certificate is level 3 (QFC grading) and the NCRQ is level 6.  This means the NCRQ subject matter will be more challenging.  Another key difference to know upfront is that NEBOSH is more widely recognised at the moment.  This may change but at the moment a recruiter will likely have a better understanding of qualification if its NEBOSH.

If you have no previous Health & Safety experience start with a certification level course.

NCRQ only offer distance learning option at the moment, the NEBOSH certificate can be done online and you will also find plenty of training providers offering classroom training.   For NEBOSH following the training you will need to book your exams or your training provider may do this for you.  There is nothing stopping you with NEBOSH buying books then self study and booking the exams yourself.  This would be a very cost effective option.  With NCRQ Certificate there are no exams.  You will submit written assessments online.  Don’t think you’re buddy can do these for you.  Plagiarism software is highly sophisticated.

So, if you want a classroom learning experience the NEBOSH Certificate is the way forward for you (at the moment, NCRA may be available in the classroom in the future).

NEBOSH or NCRQ? – key differences 

Ok, both curriculum are obviously designed to create competent HSE professionals.  Each is 120 of study time and NCRQ is level 6 whereas NEBOSH is level 3 so the NCRQ certificate will contact harder concepts.

Think of a competence as the ability to effectively apply KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS and EXPERIENCE in your HSE role.  You won’t know everything after 120 of training what will you know?  The NEBOSH curriculum is heavily weighted towards the knowledge element of competence.  You will understand the legislation landscape the whys and potential consequences.   NCRQ focuses more directly on assessing competence.  So in the assessments you will need to evidence you are able to apply knowledge effective in a given situation.  Experience only comes with time but if you have it that will help you in your NRCQ assessments.

So in short NEBOSH is more theoretical NCRQ is not vocational.

Once you have a health and safety role and wish to lead safety concerns in a large organisation or work within an industry where risks to staff are reasonably high you will want to consider a Diploma level qualification or even a Degree.

The NEBOSH and NCRQ both offer diplomas which require around 470 hours of study.  The educational approaches reflect their respective certificate courses.  so the NEBOSH course is more knowledge based and the NCRQ is more competence based in terms of their assessment approach.