NVQ, NABS Certificate...What's the Difference?

One of the questions we get asked is, “What’s the difference between the NVQ and the NABS certificate?” Well, hopefully the following will give you a clearer idea of both of the qualifications to help you decide which is the best option for you.


What are NVQs? 

NVQ’s adhere to the National Standard set by HABIA * and are nationally recognised qualifications by salon owners and the general public; they are fully insurable with any insurer that offers Professional Beauty/Nail insurance. These qualifications are also often the equivalent to, or recognised in other countries, though this needs to be checked with each different country.

* HABIA is the standard setting body for the hair, beauty, nails, spa industries, and creates the standards that form the basis of all qualifications including NVQ’s, SNVQ’s, Apprenticeships, Diplomas and Foundation Degrees, as well as industry codes of practice.


The NABS Certificate 

NABS (and similar) courses are accredited by an insurance company allowing the successful student to get insurance so that they can work within the industry. These are less recognised than an NVQ and plenty of salon owners accept them or are qualified this way as well. Often they are accredited by recognisable insurance companies like Professional Beauty Direct, BABTAC & The Guild. These are often the most economic and fastest route to getting trained/ qualified.


The same level of training 

At the Nail & Beauty School the NVQ Courses and the NABS Nail Technician / Beauty Courses are taught at the same time to both NABS & NVQ Students. This ensures that the NABS students are being trained to the same level as NVQ students on their practical’s.


You can use your NABS Certificate towards an NVQ 

When you do a NABS Nail Technician Course we are able to let you utilise that training towards your NVQ. This is known as ‘Accredited Prior Learning’ (APL for short), i.e. allowing previously learnt skills to be taken into consideration when embarking on new training, ensuring that the student does not have to train twice for the same thing, unless the student wants to.

This means that if at some point in the future the student wants to upgrade their certificate to an NVQ they can by completing the non-practical assignments & exams plus the relevant practical assessments.



Choosing which one is right for you 

The choice between an NVQ and a NABS certification course is often to do with time - they can be completed in a far more quickly. Cost wise, it is usually cheaper to do an insurance accredited course than an NVQ because it is completed over a shorter space of time.

One of the major factors in your choice is confidence; it is less scary to do the NABS courses as the non-practical side is less intense and there are no ‘set exams’, which for a lot of students makes a big difference - the fear of failing exams can often be a scary thought.

Upgrade when you feel like it 

So you, as a student, can choose to do the NABS courses. Start work and build up your confidence in your Beauty and/or Nail skills. Then once you have realised that you can earn quite a good income, can actually achieve so many things, once you set your mind to it, can if you choose to, or may feel it necessary to further your career can return to the Nail & Beauty School and convert your NABS qualifications into an NVQ.


How long does it take to get my qualifications? 

Doing an NVQ with NABS: We have several intakes per year for both our beauty and nail services NVQs. Nail NVQs run 2 days per week over 20 weeks (plus you'll also have homework on top of this as well); the beauty NVQ is 3 days per week over 20 weeks.


What work do I have to do to complete the NVQ? 

First of all you have to attend!! Classes are generally speaking practical based, where you will learn the practical application of the treatments. You will also cover subjects like;

  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Contra-indications
  • Organisational & Legal requirements

You will be given written assignments, to be completed at home. These are a variety of knowledge question sheets that you need to complete using information from the class and your manuals/workbooks to show you have learnt the required knowledge of this subject.

As the course goes along we will teach you to collate your NVQ portfolio. All written assignments, case studies, treatment plans must go into your portfolio as evidence of your skill, ability and knowledge of your subject,

You will also have to be practically assessed on each of the treatments sometimes several times for each. You will need to give treatments on as many clients as possible to complete the required ‘range’ set by EDEXCEL (or any of the other awarding bodies as directed by HABIA).
These days are in built to the course, where you will be assessed by a qualified A1 lecturer/assessor. This ensures that not only are you able to perform the treatment to the required standard, but that you can be seen to be demonstrating practical use of Health & Safety for example.

There are also written papers to complete.
To achieve the NABS Certificate you have to do all of the above, but you do not have to do;

  • As many written assignments
  • No written papers
  • Not as many practical assessments.
  • You do not have to complete a portfolio.

Hence, for some it is less daunting, takes less time, so is therefore less expensive.


How can the courses be less time than a standard College of Education? 

We specialise in FastTrack Training and Accelerated Learning Techniques.

We have many mature students attend our courses , who have plenty of life experience and are very committed to what they want to learn; how quickly they want to learn it and why they want to learn it. This is further enhanced by the fact that the groups are small and usually bond very quickly. Our learners are generally very supportive of each other and a lot of the group work is done specifically to enhance learning and to embed knowledge at a deep level, so that students remember it more easily.
You are expected to undertake a lot of learning at home, this really makes the difference. You will not be spoon fed, but you will be supported.

Most of the class time will be practical, though there will be time spent on theory and portfolio building.
Your case studies can be done at home, but your practical assessments will be done at the school.


Why is it more expensive to do a NABS NVQ than a NABS Nail Tech Course course?  

You have more assessment sessions on the NVQ usually around 4 days or more. These are often charged at £40 per session (a session is often a morning or an afternoon) by other private colleges, so please check all costs incurred.

The internal verification procedure necessary to check assessments are correct.