BTECs are qualifications that offer a mix of academic and hands-on practical and vocational learning to help develop skills needed in the workplace. BTECs are available on educational levels 1 to 7. On levels 4 to 7, BTECs are known as BTEC professionals and, on each level, they are divided into three categories: awards, diplomas and certificates. On levels 4 and 5, students can also work towards Higher National Certificates or Higher National Diplomas.

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BTEC Professionals:

BTEC professionals are employment focused qualifications designed to equip school leavers with the skills they will need in the workplace or help more mature learners progress in their career. They are developed alongside industry representatives to ensure that they meet employers needs.

Professionals are available in a huge variety of sectors and can be studied either full or part-time. They are available in local colleges or through training providers. Following a BTEC professional, students can progress to further vocational study or to full-time work. Many industry bodies also exempt students with BTEC professionals from their own professional qualifications. Costs for BTEC professionals can vary and in some cases, where the skills gained will benefit their company, an employer may cover some or all of the costs.

HNCs and HNDs:

HNCs and HNDs differ from BTEC professionals in that they provide a pathway to high education, but along a more vocational route. HNCs take one year to complete and HNDs take two years to complete, if studied full-time. Part-time study is also possible but will take longer.

HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide variety of subjects and are taught at both colleges and universities. They are focused on improving technical specialist skills in subjects from travel and tourism to electrical engineering. HNCs and HNDs are mainly assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks that are completed throughout the course, and are graded at a pass, merit and distinction level. Most courses require Level 3 qualifications to apply, such as A levels, or a Level 3 BTEC. However, work experience will also be taken into account.

HNC and HNDs give students the skills needed for a particular field, and can lead straight to a career. However, they are also equivalent to the first year (HNC) or second year (HND) of university, meaning students can 'top-up' their current qualifications, to obtain a Bachelor’s. Following an HNC, they can also progress to an HND.

The cost of HNCs and HNDs vary, but is on average £5,000 per year. Tuition fee and maintenance loans are available, much like in a Bachelor's degree (please see our Fees & Finance pages for more information). The application process is also carried out through UCAS.

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