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Qualifications & Progression

Qualifications are categorised from Entry Level through to Level 8, as shown below Qualifications of the same level are similar in difficulty; if learners progress through the levels then the difficulty increases. For example, on completion of a Level 2 programme it is possible to progress onto a Level 3 one. Then, on completion of a Level 3 qualification, learners can progress onto Level 4 or 5 programmes, and so on, through the levels up to a Level 8 qualification.

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) states that the size of a qualification is linked to the Total Qualification Time (TQT), essentially, an estimate of how long a typical learner might take to study a qualification so the combined time spent on
individual study, assessment and time actually being taught. A Total Qualification Time can be converted into an equivalent credit value by dividing by 10.

Level Qualification Example
Entry Level  Entry Level Functional Skills across three sub-levels; Entry Level 1,
Entry Level 2 and Entry Level 3. Entry Level 3 is the most difficult.
Level 1  GCSE D – G (Old Grades), GCSE 3 – 1 (New Grades) and Level 1
Functional Skills
Level 2  GCSE A* – C (Old Grades), GCSE 9 – 4 (New Grades), Level 2
Functional Skills, Level 2 NVQ and Intermediate Apprenticeship

Old Grades  New Grades
A*  9
Level 3  A Level, Level 3 NVQ and Advanced Apprenticeship
Level 4  HNC (Higher National Certificate), Level 4 NVQ and Higher
Level 5  HND (Higher National Diploma), Foundation Degree and Level 5
Level 6  Bachelor degree (BA and BSc), Degree Apprenticeship and Level 6
Level 7  Master’s degree (MA, MSc and MEng), Postgraduate certificate or
diploma and Level 7 NVQ
Level 8  Doctorate (PhD or DPhil)


The terms award, certificate and diploma can be used to describe small, medium and large qualifications respectively:

Award : 1 – 12 credits
Certificate: 13 – 36 credits
Diploma: 37+ credits


Source: GOV.UK (2016) What qualification levels mean. Available at (Accessed: 7th December 2016) and Highfields (2016) Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Available at (Accessed: 7th December 2016)

On completion of a course your assessor/trainer will ask you if you would like to continue learning and if so will give you appropriate information, advice and guidance.

You may find it helpful to consider options with:

  • Capella
  • A local college 9 of 34
  • Another training provider, including an online provider
  • A professional body such as the Chartered Quality Institute who offer resources and free mentoring services, as well as training and development options.

The National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential and impartial advice. This is supported by qualified careers advisers who can be contacted on 0800-100-900, or you can visit the National Careers Service website:



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