Guide to qualifications
Qualifications prove that you've gained knowledge and developed certain skills, and can help you get a better job or learn something new. You can get free advice to help you decide on the most suitable qualification for you and how to get it.
Why qualifications matter
Specific qualifications are required for certain jobs and careers, for example, medicine and law. Qualifications also strengthen your case when applying for a job or a promotion. Many job adverts give you details of the qualifications they're looking for. You may also need certain qualifications to apply for a further course of study or to gain membership of a professional body.
Choosing the right qualification for you
As an adult learner you can choose from a huge range of qualifications. You could go for an academic subject, or something more related to your job. Or you could choose a qualification that focuses on skills you can use in a range of situations. If the choice seems daunting, don't panic: there's lots of help and advice available to help you pick a qualification that's right for you.
Free advice by phone or email
For free and impartial advice contact the Careers Service:
You can also book a free call back at a time to suit you, or email a learning adviser with your question.
Traditional academic qualifications show that you've achieved a certain educational standard. These can include GCSEs, AS and A levels and degrees.
Vocational or work-related qualifications focus on learning practical skills. These can include NVQs, GNVQs, City and Guilds, BTECs and OCR Nationals.
Skills based qualifications
Other qualifications can show you've got the skills to get on in work and life in general, such as reading, writing, working with numbers or using a computer. You can also take Key Skills qualifications, which can include other skills such as working with others.
What if my course doesn't lead to a qualification?
Learning is valuable even if it doesn't lead to a qualification, and you may still get a certificate to show that you've completed a course. Working knowledge, such as being able to speak a second language, can be just as important as an official qualification.
Qualifications needed for higher education
There are various routes into higher education, including academic and vocational qualifications. Some courses may require specific qualifications and so it's worth looking at the university or college prospectus for more detailed information.
If your qualifications don't meet the standard entry requirements, you can do an Access course. You need few or no previous qualifications to do an Access course and it allows you to develop skills, knowledge and confidence.
Qualifications from outside the UK
If you have gained qualifications, use them by having them compared to the UK's qualifications frameworks. With access to UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) qualifications databases, our advisors can provide you with a UK comparison for the qualifications you have achieved in your own country.
The Qualification Comparison Service is available at the following Jobs and Benefits offices; Carrickfergus, Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn, Antrim, Limavady, Dungannon and Portadown. It can also be accessed at the EURES office in Gloucester House, Chichester Street, Belfast.
- Find your local Jobs and Benefits office / JobCentre (employment section)
- UK NARIC (contacts section)