In our quest to assist you with making the best choice for your career, we turn the spotlight on the lesser well-known world of HNCs.
Firstly, what is an HNC qualification, you may well be wondering?
HNC stands for Higher National Certificate and is a vocational qualification awarded by BTEC in England and the SQA in Scotland. It is a level 4 qualification equivalent to the first year of a university undergraduate degree or a Certificate of Higher Education.
If you are the type that prefers a hands-on or practical learning environment then an HNC qualification is likely for you.
When can you study an HNC?
This is a qualification that may be taken after A levels before going on to university or between studying at college and employment. Alternatively, some people opt to study an HNC as a student apprenticeship or to advance their career whilst already in employment.
This is an ideal way to further your career and put yourself in a favorable position to move up within the company. Whether you are still studying or working in a field you enjoy, an HNC is always a good idea if you are considering that route.
Benefits of an HNC
An HNC is well regarded by both employers and universities alike. It offers specific skill-based training and a qualification that can be used to land your perfect job. Alternatively, an HNC may be used as a stepping stone to go on to further study in the form of a Higher National Diploma or an undergraduate degree.
Courses are designed in consultation with employers to ensure that you have all the essential skills that are required to succeed in the workplace. An HNC also allows you to gain experience in a career pathway before committing yourself to the cost of a degree. Some qualifications allow you to apply for membership in a professional organization.
An HNC in housing, for example, allows you to belong to the Chartered Institute of Housing.
There is a financial benefit as well. Without needing to take on the cost of a university degree while still accruing credits which can be converted into an undergraduate degree will save money.
What courses are available?
There are a huge number of HNCs to choose from. These range from agriculture and computing to electrical or mechanical engineering, childcare and social work. Further details on the range of courses available may be found here.
Where can you study?
HNCs may be studied at university or via distance learning allowing for flexibility around work or family commitments if required.
HNCs take one year to complete full time or two to four years if you are studying part-time. Courses are broken down into units with practical tasks, written assessments and projects. This avoids the pressure of the final end of year examinations and allows for flexibility in the timetable depending upon your course and where you are studying.
Is an HNC the right course?
Ultimately, only you can decide upon the right career path for your life.
However, if you’re looking for practical based learning rather than an academic approach or you require specific training for your chosen career pathway, then this is a route that you should strongly consider. Identify your strengths and interests as well as what you enjoyed studying previously to guide you.
As a shorter and cheaper option than a degree, an HNC will provide you with experience before fully committing to a particular route. However, make sure you do your research thoroughly and seek career advice if you need to.
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