Finding the right course for you can be tough, here's some helpful tips and hints to help you in your search.
What should I think about?
Sometimes it's not just about finding the right course, but working out what it is you want to do.
It's important to think about this sort of thing logically and realistically. When considering what course to choose, think about:
- Where the course is - do you want to be based at home, do distance learning, or move away for your course?
- What you will study - is it a general subject you'll need to study or something more specific for your career choice?
- How you best find to study - are you better at more coursework based courses, or better with exams? Do you want to learn full-time or part-time, or to combine working and learning?
Find the right match
Our Matching Service helps you find work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. This will help you find the right role for you and what the next step for you will be.
Being prepared when choosing the right course is very important for making your final decision. It'll help you get the most out of the course and can help give you a really good start into your career in construction.
What kinds of courses are there?
Working out the differences between GSCEs, BTEC, HNDs, HNCs, NVQs, A- levels, apprenticeships and degree level courses can be overwhelming. Here's a breakdown of what these courses mean:
- GCSE - this qualification is in a specific subject undertaken by students normally between 14-16, and is normally the pre-cursor to completing an A-level. The Scottish equivalent of this is a Standard Grade.
- A-level - this is normally done after completing GCSEs, and is in a specific subject typically done by students aged 16-18. The Scottish equivalent is the Higher.
- BTEC - this is a vocational qualification that can be taken in England and Wales, and can be taken by anyone over the age of 14.
- HND - this stands for Higher National Diploma and is a work-related course that you would take at higher or further education colleges. This is normally the equivalent to two years at university.
- HNC - this stands for Higher National Certificate and is the level below a HND. A HNC is a work-related qualification and is the same as the first year of a university course.
- NVQ - this means a National Vocational Qualification, which shows that the person who has the qualification has the knowledge and skills needed for a particular subject. This is a work-based qualification that combines learning and practical working.
- Apprenticeships - this qualification means that you follow someone's example who is trained in their role and learn all the skills and knowledge you need for that particular role.
- Degree level course - you would usually complete this course whilst at university over the course of three to four years. Depending on the subject, these courses combine coursework, exams and practical learning also.
Do certain jobs need specific requirements?
For some specific roles there will be certain qualifications that you will need to have in order to prove that you have all the relevant knowledge and skills to do it.
For example, if you wanted to be a Building Control Surveyor you'll need a BTEC HNC/HND in Building Control in order to do the role.
A career in construction offers a flexible way to progress along your career path, and it's easy to choose your starting point to match your skills and qualifications. Use our Career Explorer to find what roles would suit you.
Studying at university
UCAS have lots of helpful information about choosing the right university and course, as well as a directory of the university courses on offer across the UK.
But you don't have to go to university in order to get into the construction industry, this is simply one route you could take.
To find out what roles you could do with your degree, check out our Career Explorer.
Some careers require you to have a qualification in a specific subject. If you wanted to be a Town Planner, you'd need a degree in Town Planning, but also need to be accredited by its professional body, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
You can find out what specific qualifications are needed for roles in our Career A-Z.
Are there any jobs that don't need specific requirements?
One of the great things about the construction industry is that you are able to enter the industry at any level and have many progression opportunities available to you. For example, you could start out as a scaffolder with no formal qualifications and move into a construction apprenticeship for a number of various roles.
There are also lots of qualifications that you can use with a number of roles. A business related degree could then help you into a role in marketing or IT within a construction company as part of its support services.
Costs of courses
There may be some costs for the course you want to study, so it's worth researching these and finding out if there's any funding or support you could get to help.
It could help with paying towards:
- Course fees
- Travel costs
- College equipment
If the course you want to do means you can study for it through your employer or as part of your apprenticeship, there could be funding available for you and your employer. Check out two such stories on our Apprenticeships page.
Getting on the course
It's important to look carefully at the entry requirements for your course. These will be listed as part of the course details.
If you’re unsure, contact the course tutor as they'll help you and can give lots of advice.