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What is a BTEC?

The BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) Extended Diploma or the BTEC Level 3 Diploma is a further education vocational qualification that prepares students for the world of work. A BTEC qualification focuses more on practical rather than academic learning, which makes it perfect if you want those hands-on skills with real world application!

BTEC Level 2s- What Courses are Available?

BTEC courses are available in schools, colleges and universities and cover a range of subjects, including:

  • Business Administration
  • Business Enterprise
  • Customer Service Operations
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Retail Operations
  • Service industries
  • Science

There are now over 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 sectors, including Art & Design, Performing Arts, and Sport, so the possibilities are endless!

Types of BTEC

There are three main levels of study within the BTEC framework:

  1. BTEC Firsts: Available from entry level to Level 2, these introduce you to work in a vocational sector. When combined with other qualifications, you can go on to further study, an apprenticeship, or employment.
  2. BTEC Nationals: Similar to A Levels and available from Level 3, BTEC Nationals are well-regarded by universities, further education colleges and employers. Can lead to employment, continuing study or professional development programmes.
  3. NTEC Apprenticeships: Available at Levels 2 to 5 in more than 25 sectors

What is the difference between BTECs and A Levels?

A common assumption among post-GCSE students is that BTECs are an alternative to A Levels. Actually, BTECs are very flexible and can be studied alongside your GCSEs and/or A Levels or can be studied alone at a college or university.

The primary difference between A levels and BTECs is classroom time. Like A Levels, BTECs are study courses that give you important qualifications that employers value. Unlike A Levels, you’re less likely to spend all day, every day in a classroom and instead take part in practical, real-life situations. 

Vocational qualifications like BTECs give you skills for your CV and are a great springboard into your career or higher education.

What is a BTEC course like?

Since BTECs are vocational qualifications grounded in the world of work, they’re all about learning by doing and gaining practical skills and knowledge. Assignments set in real-life scenarios develop your practical knowledge for your future career. Since BTECs are available across a wide range or sectors, the courses can also differ between sectors.

Who should study a BTEC?

BTECs are a great option if you’re excited to begin your career and want to learn as much as you can about the sector and get practical experience. If you decide you’d like to go onto university, it’s also a great option because BTEC Nationals are one of the most widely-recognised qualifications for admission to higher education. If you want to develop the skills you need for your resume and want to impress future employers or university admissions, a BTEC should be one of your options!

What can you do next?

  • University: A BTEC level 3 National qualification provides the UCAS points you need for your university application, similar to A Levels. Other avenues towards a university degree is the BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC), which is equivalent to 1 year at university, or the Higher National Diploma (HND), equivalent to 1st and 2nd year of university.

  • World of Work: BTECs provide you with the practical knowledge and skills to enter the world of work. BTECs are created in close collaboration with employers, professional bodies and Higher Education experts so you’ll be valued by a wide range of industries.

Frequently asked questions

  • To get a BTEC qualification, you can enroll in a BTEC course at a college, university or online learning provider. You will need to meet the entry requirements for the course, which can vary depending on the level and subject. BTEC qualifications are awarded by Pearson, the UK's largest awarding body.

  • There are a wide range of BTEC courses available, covering subjects such as business, engineering, health and social care, hospitality, media and IT. BTEC courses are available at different levels, from Entry Level to Level 7, which is equivalent to a Master's degree. 

  • There is no limit to the number of BTEC courses you can take, although you should consider the time and cost involved in completing multiple courses. It is important to choose courses that are relevant to your career goals and interests.

  • There are some free online BTEC courses available, such as the BTEC Level 2 Award in Digital Skills for Work, which is offered by the Open University. However, most BTEC courses require payment of tuition fees, which can vary depending on the provider and level of the course.

  • BTEC courses are marked using a grading system that ranges from Pass to Distinction*. Assessments can include coursework, exams, practical tasks and work-based assignments. The assessment methods will vary depending on the course and level. 

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