Health and Safety Qualifications
What health and safety qualifications should I study?
There are a number of health and safety qualifications available which will give you the knowledge or skills required for a career in health and safety.
The NCRQ qualifications are the most popular route into health and safety. They have qualifications at both Certificate level (which are suitable for Health & Safety Advisor positions) and Diploma level (suitable for Health & Safety Manager positions). All of their qualifications are at degree level of difficulty (RQF Level 6), which means that the Certificate qualifications count towards the full Diploma.
The qualifications are based on the study of real-life case studies and are assessed by assignments, not exams. They require a real in-depth understanding of the concepts of health and safety and require you to critically analyse and apply these concepts to a given scenario.
These qualifications have been developed and are delivered by former Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive, as well as some big-name global employers, so you can be sure that the qualification meets the requirements of the regulatory bodies and give you the skills that employers are looking for.
NCRQ qualifications don’t require you to be working in a health and safety role, and you are given case studies as part of your assessments.
The NEBOSH qualifications consist of a Certificate at RQF Level 3 (A-level difficulty) and a Diploma at RQF Level 6 (degree level difficulty).
The qualifications are largely based on learning knowledge, rather than an application of skills. They are assessed mainly by traditional examinations, with a short case study that you will need to complete in the workplace.
These qualifications have quite a theoretical focus, and would be well suited for those who already know how to manage health and safety, but want to gain a formal qualification to consolidate their knowledge.
NEBOSH qualifications used to be very popular, and as such many employers simply refer to NEBOSH in their job adverts, when they actually mean any Certificate or Diploma level health and safety qualification.
There are several National Vocational Qualifications available in relation to health and safety management. These qualifications are a great way to demonstrate competence in the various aspects of health and safety management, as they are assessed by a portfolio of evidence.
The downside to NVQs is that you need to be working in a health and safety role in order to obtain your evidence, and there is no teaching associated with the qualification. However, if you already have the knowledge and skills, for example, you have been in a health and safety role for some time, they can be a great way to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and experience.
Degree / MSc
There are many BSc and MSc degrees available that have health and safety as the focus of the qualification. These provide an excellent demonstration of theoretical knowledge about health and safety, often in great depth. Most of these qualifications, especially in recent years, also contain some significant study of real-life case studies and examples, and have a good degree of practical application as well as theoretical concepts.
The only real drawback to a degree is the cost and full-time study involved. However, if you are really interested and committed, they are an excellent choice held in very high regard by employers.