Whatever job or course you're aiming for in the future, find out about the different post-16 qualifications you can take to get you there.
Academic qualifications – studying subjects
A levels – you usually study three subjects or more. There are a wide range of subjects available. They’re usually studied at the same time over two years.
GCSEs – if you do not have a grade C/4 or above in GCSE English or maths and are studying at school or college, you will need to retake these subjects to get grades A* to C/9 to 4.
Vocational qualifications - offering broad study of a job family
If you’re interested in a particular job family or industry but not yet sure what job you’d like to do, these qualifications might suit you. They combine practical learning with developing knowledge and skills. You can go on to further education, training or employment, or you can go on to university.
BTEC diplomas – give you a broader knowledge of a particular sector or industry. They are available in a range of sizes which are equivalent to one, two, or three A levels. They can be taken in combination with other qualifications.
Certificates – these enable you to develop transferable knowledge and skills through studying a particular industry or subject area. They are available in a range of subjects and can lead on to higher level study.
Cambridge Technicals – involve studying a range of eight subject areas, each with flexible choices of units. They are available in a range of sizes which are equivalent to one, two, or three A levels.
Technical qualifications – job-related study
If you know what sort of job you want to do, or want a course that's more practical, or includes some work experience, these may be the right qualifications for you. There are many types of technical qualifications in a wide range of subjects and career areas, and there are qualifications available for all levels, from entry level up to level 8.
NVQ – provide you with skills to do a specific job and can be taken if you have a full-time job or are on a course with a work placement.
T Levels – include a range of qualifications which give you specialist technical knowledge and skills and are recognised as leading to specific job roles.
Functional/Essential/Core skills qualifications
These qualifications are called by slightly different titles in each of the four countries of the UK, but they all provide the essential skills you need in English, maths, and ICT to progress in education and work. They focus on developing and using skills, including communication, team working, presentation, and problem solving. You can study these alongside other qualifications or as part of an apprenticeship, traineeship, or study programme.