Diploma vs NVQ

NEBOSH Diploma VS NVQ Level 5 Diploma

Finding the right course for you

If you’re looking for a higher level qualification in Occupational Health & Safety from SHEilds then you may be facing a slight dilemma; should you take a City & Guilds NVQ Level 5 or a NEBOSH National/International Diploma course?

Both of these courses are aimed at Health & Safety practitioners who have delegated overall responsibility for occupational health and safety management in the workplace in industry.

To help our advanced students decide which course is right for their career path I’ve collected key information, an infographic comparison and my own thoughts on the respective benefits to assist in making the right call.

To begin with, how do the basic traits of the courses compare?

Diploma vs NVQ

Do I study a Diploma or an NVQ SHEilds Image

Do I study a Diploma or an NVQ with SHEilds Image



Which qualification is right for you?

The NEBOSH Diploma is best suited for individuals who come from an academic background as it details all the underpinning knowledge and understanding of best industry practice for occupational Health & Safety management.

The down side is that candidates must successfully complete three compulsory written exams and one practical assessment to be successfully awarded the Diploma, something most candidates will find to be quite challenging.

The NVQ Level 5 Diploma in contrast is a course with a very hands-on approach to qualification and no exams being 100% online; candidates can achieve this in their own workplace within 24 months following registration.

Discover more about SHEilds Diplomas

Discover more about SHEilds Diplomas

The challenges with the latter qualification arise from the requirement for candidates to submit assignment work on a regular basis in line with the unit of study requirements, ultimately aiming to achieve an online portfolio of evidence to be assessed against the set standardisation of units of study.

The main benefit of the NVQ is that candidates do not have any formal written exams to successfully complete this qualification; it is assessed on the portfolio of evidence produced to be marked against the set performance criteria of the compulsory NVQ units. Thus, candidates who come from a hands-on pragmatic background would benefit from completing this qualification, particularly as a means to achieve CertIOSH membership.

Taking my own development as an example; I completed a NEBOSH General Certificate first way back in 2001 and would definitely recommend this as a starting route for anyone new to the Health & Safety profession. This is an effective way of embedding underpinning knowledge required for diploma/NVQ level 5 studies.

Following completion of the NEBOSH course and after two years of experience in the field I enrolled on the old version of City & Guilds NVQ level 4 (NEBOSH Diploma Equivalent) course of study, allowing me to put all my pragmatic knowledge and understanding into the course. Personally I found this to be very rewarding as with the NVQ level 5 Diploma route you get to gain first class experience working with all levels of management and front line supervision as well as the site operatives carrying out their daily tasks.

The above is just one example of possible career progression through these qualifications though. If you’re still uncertain which route is right for you then don’t hesitate to contact SHEilds’ course advisors for further guidance.


Kai Young


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