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How do I choose between academic or technical qualifications?

The academic route

Where to start

Do you want to keep your options open/ you are not sure what you want to do?
  • Academic or subject based qualifications allow you to keep your future options open until you narrow down what directions you want to go in. 
  • you can also decide by thinking about what you like and enjoy doing, make a list of these.
  • With your list in hand, search our Careers Directory and have a browse at the job categories and see if anything jumps out at you. 
  • It also might be worth looking at Labour Market information and finding out more about our top sectors. 


Do you want to study some of your GCSE's in more depth? 
  • This may also take you down the academic route, for example if you enjoyed physical education at GCSE level due to finding out about health, exercise and the body you may want to go into more depth at A Level. 
  • Another option, is to ask yourself what is it that you like about the subject? Is it writing and shaping an argument or is it getting hands on experience using equipment? If you find it is an academic element then A Levels may be the route for you. Whereas if it is hands on experience or work experience for example then a T Level may be more appropriate. 

The technical route

Where to start 

If you feel you achieve better results with coursework rather than in exam conditions. 
  • If you find you struggle showing what you know in exam conditions and your learning style is more comfortable with coursework then technical qualifications may be right for you. They would involve project work and 20% on the job learning. 


I have an idea of what career area I'd like to go into and would want to do a course that would help me gain knowledge and skills in that area. 
  • Technical qualifications have been designed by businesses and employers to ensure you are receiving the right knowledge and skills that are required.
  • Part of a T Level is doing 20% on the job learning, this would mean experiencing what a real career is like while continuing your studies. 


Do you prefer learning in a working environment rather than the classroom? 
  • Your decision will be dependent on how much time you would want on the job learning, with an apprenticeship you spend 80% of your time on the job and 20% of your time off-the-job training. Whereas with a T Level you spend 80% of your time in the classroom and 20% of your time on an industry placement. 
  • To go down this route you would need to have a fairly clear idea of what career path or job role you are going down as apprenticeships and T Levels will be specific to the career sector. View our Careers Directory and search our job categories.

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