Finding the right course for your chosen career is a crucial part of ensuring success in the workplace, particularly as many people will have more than one career over the course of their lifetime. In this article, we turn our attention to the world of HNCs and the value they can offer.
Many are unaware of the existence or value of an HNC meaning it is often overlooked in career choices.
What is an HNC?
An HNC offers a training route post A levels or between studying at college and employment. Alternatively, some people opt to study an HNC as a student apprenticeship or to advance their career if they already have a job.
HNC stands for Higher National Certificate, not to be confused with a Higher National Diploma. It is a vocational qualification awarded by BTEC in England and the SQA in Scotland. It is a level 4 qualification comparable to the first year of a university undergraduate degree or a Certificate of Higher Education. A Higher National Diploma, on the other hand, takes two years and can be studied after an HNC.
What are the benefits of an HNC?
- An HNC is well regarded by both employers and universities alike.
- Courses are vocational and designed in consultation with employers- they offer specific skill-based training and a qualification that can be used to land your perfect role.
- They suit practical learners- Courses are broken down into modules or units with practical tasks, written assessments and projects. Assessment is ongoing rather than an academic route where formal examinations are taken at the end.
- An HNC may be used as a stepping stone- it can help you keep your options open by gaining relevant experience in a career pathway before committing yourself to the cost of a degree.
- Some qualifications allow you to apply for membership of a professional organisation. An HNC in housing, for example, allows you to belong to the Chartered Institute of Housing.
- An HNC offers flexibility in time and study patterns- An HNC may be studied full time in one year or spread out over two to four years part-time. They may be taken at university or via distance learning to fit around other work or family commitments.
What courses are available?
HNCs exist in a wide range of industries from agriculture and computing to electrical or mechanical engineering, childcare, and social work. Further details on the range of courses available may be found here.
In short, an HNC offers a practical based route to learning and specific training for your chosen career pathway. As a shorter and cheaper option than a degree, an HNC will provide you with experience before fully committing to a particular route. However, do make sure that you do your research- talk to employers, course providers and seek support from a careers adviser or personal coach if you need advice on selecting the correct course for you.