Unlike more traditional qualifications, a vocational course will prepare you directly for a specific trade. This trade can be a craft, such as jewellery-making or metalwork. These will typically be non-academic and you will have to do more practical activities. They can be more professional trades, such as accountancy or engineering. While these trades will often have some academic elements, you will still be getting some hands-on training. You may like the sound of more than one, or think multiple work well together, so how many vocational courses can you take?
In general, the number of vocational courses you can take will depend on a range of factors. These include what level of education you are at, what type of vocational course you are planning to study and what your school offers, along with what restrictions they set out. This is especially apparent in secondary school, even when you pick your GCSEs. However, after GCSEs, you will be more in control of what you study and technically speaking you can take as many as you want.
Continue reading for more information about how many vocational courses you can take at different stages of education, as well as the benefits of studying a vocational course in the first place.
How Many Vocational Courses Can You Take in Secondary School?
When you get to secondary school and have to do your GCSEs (or an alternative qualification), this will often be the first chance that you get to choose what you want to study. Due to this, you may even have the option to choose vocational courses as part of your GCSE options. For more information about what exactly a vocational course is check out this article. (link to ‘What is a Vocational Course?’).
Typically, you will get to choose 3 or 4 options, but this will depend on your secondary school and what other subjects they have made compulsory. The number of vocational courses that you will be able to take at GCSE will largely depend on your school. This is because your school may only offer a limited number of vocational courses at GCSE level. But also, because your school may have limits on how many vocational courses you can take as a part of your GCSE options. For more information about taking vocational courses at GCSE level check out this article.
How Many Vocational Courses Can You Take Post-16?
After you finish your GCSEs, it gets a little more complicated. In England, you will have to be in some form of further education until you are 18. But in the rest of the UK, you don’t. For more about the school leaving age, you can look here. If you are interested in what you could do after school, then check out this article that discusses further education.
If you take an apprenticeship, it isn’t realistic to take more than one. While you may be able to fit in another vocational course on the side, the full-time work and part-time study nature of an apprenticeship will leave you with very little time for yourself. For more information about what is involved in an apprenticeship check out this article.
If you take a more general vocational course, such as a BTEC National or Cambridge Technical, you will generally study it at sixth form college. The amount you can take will generally vary on what college or sixth form you go to. But also, on the type of vocational qualification that it is.
The best way to look at this is to compare it to A-Levels. A good example of this is the BTEC Nationals, which are the level 3 vocational qualifications. There are 3 types of them: the Extended Certificate, Diploma and Extended Diploma. They are equivalent to one, two and three A-Levels respectively. For more information about BTEC Nationals look here.
If the vocational course is worth 3 A-Levels, just like a BTEC National Extended Diploma or a T-Level, then typically you can only study one. However, if it is worth one or two A-Levels then you will probably want to pair it with either another vocational course, an A-Level or some other qualification that is worth the same. For more information about T-Levels look here.
Why Are the Benefits of Taking a Vocational Course?
The differences between a traditional more academic course and a vocational course can be quite clear. For more on the differences between them you can check out this article. However, it can be difficult to understand what this difference means in terms of how it can benefit you. In fact, it can be hard to see the direct and specific benefits of a vocational course. But they are most certainly there. Please continue reading the list below of benefits of vocational courses. For more information about these as a whole look here.
Can Vocational Courses Increase Employability?
The struggles involved in getting a job (at least a traditional job) are ever increasing. So, having any sort of competitive advantage to make you stand out from other candidates can really boost your application.
One problem that arises when trying to get a job is that you may lack the experience that employers are looking for. For various reasons, such work experience opportunities can be incredibly difficult to find let alone to actually be able to undertake. Due to this, a vocational course is a great qualification for increasing your employment opportunities. You will have hands-on training and will most likely have some work experience too. For more information about this, check out this article.
Vocational courses can also increase your employability in a more general way, such as by helping you to develop hard skills and soft skills for your specific trade. For more information on these, continue reading this list of the benefits of vocational courses. Developing these skills is so important in today’s competitive work environment because employers are looking for candidates who are flexible and can take initiative. For more information about the importance of employability, check out this article.
Vocational Courses Help to Develop Hard Skills
Hard skills are job-specific skills or abilities that are gained through education or training, this can include work experience.
You can develop these from a vocational course because a vocational course provides you with education that is more direct to a specific trade that you want to go into. During a vocational course you will often have hands-on-training and work experience that will allow you to develop the job-specific hard skills that you need for your career.
In turn, this can help you to be more prepared for the working world as you already know what the job entails and will likely have had some practice in doing it before you officially start your job. For more information about hard skills, check out this article.
Vocational Courses Help to Develop Soft Skills
Soft skills are a lot more subtle than hard skills and you may not even think about them when you think about being the best match for a position. They are still very important, particularly to employers and to making your CV. Soft skills are the skills and qualities that you have that allow you to fit in and thrive in a workplace.
As vocational courses vary so much, which ones you can pick up will depend greatly on what type of vocational course you have studied. But in general, taking a vocational course will often help you to pick up soft skills, such as dedication, meeting deadlines, organisation and problem solving. This is because you are most likely going to need to use these skills to succeed in your vocational course. This is especially apparent if you take an apprenticeship and are actually in a workplace environment. For more on soft skills check out this article.
Having these so-called soft skills can do wonders for your CV or any other application as it can explain to the employer why exactly they should hire you. But also, it can help you be more prepared for the workplace environment and adapt more quickly to it.
Vocational Courses Can Be Cost Effective
One of the main drawbacks of traditional education, particularly higher education, is that it can be so expensive. The typical undergraduate degree in the UK will cost domestic students about £9,250 each year just for tuition fees. Then on top of that, you will have to worry about your living costs which can average to approximately £850 per month or about £8,245 per year at university. For more information about the costs of university check out this great article. For more information about higher education look here.
Vocational courses, particularly when taken post-18, can be a lot cheaper than university. For some types of vocational course, such as degree apprenticeships, you won’t even have to pay for your tuition fees. Although, you will still have to cover your living costs. On top of that, during a degree apprenticeship you will still be working and so you will also get paid. For more information about degree apprenticeships look here.
Other higher vocational qualifications can also have lower costs. For example, HNCs and HNDs tuition fees tend to be between £4,000 and £8,000 per year. While still quite a lot, it is still quite a bit cheaper than the average undergraduate degree and you can still get funding to help pay for it. For more information about these costs look here.