Vocational qualifications are practical qualifications that relate to a specific job or career sector.
Unlike more academic courses like A-levels, they combine a mix of theory and practical learning and you’ll probably do some work experience too.
There’s a huge range of different courses that you can do, and many types of qualifications you can get, from entry level to advanced. The length of the course depends on what level you study at.
Vocational qualifications are a good option if you have a clear idea of what type of career or trade you’d like to work in. They can help you to get the specific skills you need to get your first job or progress further in your career.
However, if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, you could find many (but not all) of the courses quite limiting.
You can take vocational qualifications from the age of 14 (although there are a lot more options from 16) alongside, instead of, or after, academic ones like GCSEs, A-levels or degrees.
There are literally hundreds of different vocational subjects that you can do. Here’s just a sample:
• Animal care
• Beauty therapy
• Customer service
• Child development
• Electrical installation
• Environmental services
• Food technology
• Gas installation
• Health and social care
• Health and safety
• Heating and ventilation
• Media and communications
Entry requirements to these courses vary depending on the level you want to study at, and the qualification you’ll get at the end depends on the subject, where you are working (if you study on the job) and the organisation awarding it. Here are some examples: