What comes next?

Progressing through learning is a bit like going on a journey. You have to start somewhere and there are usually stopping points along the way.  In the UK learners have to stay in school until the age of 16. This means that the usual starting place for most people are the level of qualifications obtained at the end of year 11. 
Some learners plan their route through education and employment. The diagram below outlines the usual type of learning progression.

What comes next? diagram


Is it always straightforward?

Not always. It can be a bit complicated so have a look at the points and examples below:

  • Sometimes the key to your next step is the level of your current qualification. This is often the case at the higher qualification levels For example  it would not be easy to study at level 6 or 7 without having studied at level 5 or 6.


Example  - To qualify as a teacher you would need to do a level 6/7 course called a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education).To do this course you would need have a level 6 qualification such as a degree.

  • Many courses have ‘entry qualifications’ laid down. Sometimes a specific level of study is asked for but sometimes certain other subjects are also required.


Example – To enter a degree in nursing you would need a level 3 qualification such as A levels or a BTEC National Diploma. You would also need 5 GCSEs and many courses will ask for English and Science at GCSE level

  • You can study a subject to high level, but, if you decide to change career or study a different subject you might need to go back to a lower level and start your study again.


Example - A hairdresser qualified to level 4 NVQ in hairdressing decides to start a new career in photography. Although the learner is qualified to level 4 in hairdressing they might find themselves having to start studying photography at level 2 or 3


I have a career in mind – where can I find out what my next steps should be?

Start by looking at the job information we have on the site. There is a section on all our job leaflets that explains the qualifications required for that career. The leaflets also have links to web sites that will help you find out more.

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