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Vocational qualifications

Vocational Qualifications for a Specific Job

If you want to train for a specific job such as hairdressing, carpentry and child care then you will need to gain relevant vocational qualifications. Vocational qualifications demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge and behaviour to do a job.

There are many different types of vocational qualifications depending on what you are training for with different awarding bodies.

Classroom based vocational qualifications

These are useful if you have left school and are starting out on your career journey. These will introduce you to the skills and knowledge required for the job. These are offered by FE Colleges. They are available at different levels and sizes - they maybe called technical qualifications and you maybe studying an Awards, Certificates or Diplomas. You may have the opportunity to do simulated work experience as part of your vocational learning for example in the college restaurant or hair salon or a work placement. These are assessed in a number of ways: including practical tests, written exams, course work or even online multiple choice tests. They can progress on to further study, work or apprenticeships.

Work based vocational qualifications

These are qualifications that are designed to meet specific occupational standards. They enable you to undertake training and develop your skills and competence ‘on the job’. You need to be working or on a work placement to gain these qualifications.

They have a range of assessment methods depending on the job. One example of a popular vocational qualification is City and Guilds NVQs and you can take these in lots of different job areas. Other awarding bodies just accredit one vocational area for example the British Horse Society.

Some college courses with significant work based learning may enable students to gain practical work based qualifications alongside the technical qualifications.


An apprenticeship combines both learning at work and also learning in a college or training centre. These are designed by employers and so you may gain a range of vocational and professional qualifications that you need to do the job.

Further Information

Find out what qualifications are useful for the job you want to do here.

For a list of all approved vocational qualifications go to Ofqual.

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