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What is a BTEC?

BTEC is the acronym for the Business and Technology Education Council, and a BTEC qualification prepares students for the world of work. This vocational qualification is based on practical, rather than academic, learning. Students who study a BTEC gain skills and knowledge in their professional field and then put those skills to the test in real-life scenarios.

BTEC subjects

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

  • Art and design
  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering
  • IT
  • Performing arts
  • Service industries
  • Land-based
  • Sport
  • Science

There are now over 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 sectors, so the possibilities are literally 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.

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