BTECs

While A-levels may have long been considered the most conventional qualification path to university, Btecs could be a viable alternative.

What are BTEC’s?

A BTEC, or ‘Business and Technology Education Council’ (the name of the body which originally oversaw it) is a practical-based, vocational qualification. It can be studied at a college or school.

BTECs provide the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a field or subject, and are a viable alternative to the more theory-focused, classroom-based ways of learning which you might be put off by.

BTEC’s are increasingly becoming a more popular path to both university and particular jobs in place of, or in addition to, A-levels. 

While they are commonly known as an alternative to A-levels, BTEC qualifications can actually be studied at a number of levels including GCSE and even degree-level.

Who are they for?

BTECs are designed for young people interested in a particular sector or industry but who are not yet sure what job they’d like to do.

You could study a BTEC at Level 2 or 3, either alongside academic qualifications or as part of a wider programme (such as an apprenticeship). You can also study a BTEC as a standalone course.There are over 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 sectors, including:

  • applied science
  • art and design
  • business
  • childcare
  • construction
  • engineering
  • media
  • health and social care
  • hospitality
  • ICT
  • land-based
  • performing arts
  • public services
  • sport
  • travel and tourism

What are the different types of BTEC?

BTECs are broken down into three main levels of study:

  1. BTEC Firsts are available from entry level to Level 2 (similar standard to GCSEs). These offer an introduction to work in a vocational sectorCombined with other qualifications, these can enable you to go on to further study, to an apprenticeship, or into employment. 
  2. BTEC Nationals are available from Level 3 (similar standard to A levels). Many of these are well regarded by universities, further education colleges, and employers. A BTEC National qualification can lead to employment, continuing study, or professional development programmes.   
  3. BTEC Apprenticeships are available at Levels 2 to 5 across more than 25 sectors. 

How do they work?

BTEC qualifications are flexible – you can take one alongside (or instead of) GCSEs and A levels in schools and colleges. They’re also usually studied full-time, either in college or jointly between a school and a college.

BTECs are divided into units, which cover specific areas of knowledge, skills, and understanding required by the particular sector or industry. 

  1. Every BTEC student takes the core units, which provide a broad foundation and understanding about the sector.
  2. There is a range of optional units to choose from which enable students to focus on particular interests and plans they have for next steps into further study, an apprenticeship, or employment. 
  3. The course involves a series of assignments which can be written or activity-based, for example creating a film clip, planning and putting on a performance, or creating a business plan. Students complete some assignments individually and some as part of a team. For some BTEC courses, students can also apply their knowledge and skills through work experience

What are the entry requirements for a BTEC?

Entry requirements vary depending on the particular BTEC course you are interested in. You may need up to five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4, or A* to C.

What can you do next?

BTEC Nationals

On successful completion of a BTEC National qualification, students can progress to employment or continue their learning in the same or related areas of study, in higher education and professional development programmes.

Some BTEC National qualifications are recognised as technical certificates and form part of the apprenticeship framework. They can attract UCAS points but if you are thinking of going to university or on to higher education, it is important to check whether the universities offering the courses you want to apply to accept BTEC Nationals.

BTEC Firsts

These enable you to go on to further study at Level 3 (for example BTEC Nationals), to do an apprenticeship, or to go into employment.

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