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NEBOSH Diploma: Is it really that hard?

It is fair to say that the NEBOSH Diploma is the most prestigious qualification for a health and safety practitioner to hold. It has long been established as an internationally recognised standard of knowledge and expertise. 10,000 students have now achieved this qualification since its inception in 1988.

Often it is considered a very hard health and safety qualification to achieve - but is that a fair statement to make?

There has been a lot of stigma about the qualification, often supported by anecdotal evidence from past candidates and on occasion some low pass rates (the latest NEBOSH figures available, for January - June 2011, put the pass rate at 73%).

To answer the question we must look at the level of the NEBOSH National Diploma. The current syllabus is regulated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority who have placed it at level 10, which is equivalent to level 6 in the English and Welsh system. This broadly equates to a Bachelors Degree. IOSH recognise the qualification as meeting the requirements for Graduate Membership, whilst IIRSM recognise it as meeting the requirements for full membership.

Any qualification at this level is going to be hard to achieve. So I guess the answer to the question is yes. But is that the end of the story?

I personally think that for a qualification to really mean something it has to be hard to achieve. This means those that hold the qualification have really achieved something. Lets think of the criticism of the Health and Safety Test for CSCS Cards - with questions often derided as being too easy, is the achievement of the test something to be very proud of? We certainly can't say that of the NEBOSH Diploma. Every person who has achieved the NEBOSH Diploma can stand proud and say they have achieved a high standard of knowledge and expertise in health and safety.

So we have said the qualification is hard to achieve - but is it too hard? The answer to that is very much down to each student. There is no clear answer to this, as I would say you get out what you put in. Achieving the NEBOSH Diploma does require active involvement in the course, a large degree of self studying and good exam preparation. In my next blog article I will share some tips on how you can achieve these 3 elements.

Any good training centre will also provide ongoing help and support throughout the study period to support your learning. I would suggest this is a key question to ask of any potential provider you look at.

So my advice to anyone considering the NEBOSH Diploma is do some research - seriously look at what is involved, look at the support from your provider, look at the benefits when you achieve it - and if you can commit to the hard work then go for it. I have no doubt when it pays off, and you pass the NEBOSH Diploma, you will have achieved something to be very proud of.

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by Matthew Joyes

Matthew Joyes

Matthew Joyes was previously Risk Services Director at ATC Risk Management; one of the UK's leading providers of risk solutions including health and safety training and health and safety consultants. His experience involves working in risk management and health and safety roles across a number of industries, including retail, logistics and distribution, healthcare and the police service. Click here to read his full resumé.

Note: All of the entries in this blog provide general advice and should not be interpreted or used as specific health and safety guidance to your organisation - you must always consider your own circumstances and take appropriate action. If in doubt, contact us for professional and specific advice.