BTEC Diplomas are more popular than ever. If you’ve ever considered studying while earning hands-on experience and gaining industry contacts, a BTEC diploma could be the perfect option.

This guide will give you all the information you need to get started on your path to a BTEC qualification.


What is BTEC, and what does it stand for?

BTEC, which stands for the Business and Technology Education Council, are specialist and/or vocational qualifications related to specific fields and trades. By combining practical hands-on experience with theory and classroom learning, BTEC qualifications help you gain entry into a field or industry. You get the knowledge, practice, and industry connections you need to succeed in your chosen career.


Did you know that there are more than 2,000 BTEC qualifications available in 16 sectors?[i] You can earn BTECs at an entry-level all the way through to level 7 (which is equivalent to a postgraduate level).

Why choose a BTEC Diploma? Simply put – they’re designed specifically for students who know they want to work in a specific field or industry, but they haven’t quite settled on exactly what role they’d like to pursue. A BTEC allows you to ‘try on’ and assess a number of different positions within a sector before you commit to your career path.


You can study for a BTEC on its own, or you can take a BTEC at a Level 2 or 3 alongside other academic qualifications. You can also include a BTEC in your apprenticeship programme to bolster your knowledge and improve your employability.

The 16 BTEC sectors include:

BTECs from these 16 categories are split into four levels of study, organised similarly to GCSEs:


In order to apply for a BTEC programme, you may need to fulfil certain entry requirements, but this depends on the college and specific BTEC course. In most cases, you’ll need between three and five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4, or A* to C.

Different types of qualifications include:


How do BTEC qualifications work?

Once you’ve chosen the BTEC qualification that works best for your needs and educational pathway, it’s time to decide how they’ll fit into your schedule. Thankfully, BTECs are very flexible. Many students take them alongside GCSEs and A levels, while others choose to do BTECs instead of GCSEs and A levels.


Your BTEC course of study will be divided into units, each of which includes different areas of knowledge and skill-building that you’ll need when working in that sector. You’ll take the core BTEC units, which give you the foundation of the subject matter, as well as optional units that allow you to dig deeper into a topic or interest. At this point, you can make plans for your apprenticeship, further study, and/or employment.


During your course, you’ll complete a series of written or activity-based assignments. These might include planning a performance, filming a short video, making a webpage, or creating a business plan for an existing or imagined business. In some cases, you’ll work independently, while in others you’ll work in a team. No matter what, you’ll earn valuable real-world experience that you don’t typically get when studying A levels.



What can you do with BTEC qualifications?

Your BTEC qualifications will help you reach your goals and embark on your career path. More employers and Higher Education institutions are choosing BTEC-qualified candidates than ever before.

After you complete your BTEC National qualification at a Level 3, you can enter into the second or third year of a University degree programme, a professional development programme, or an apprenticeship. If you continue to a Level 5, 6, or 7, you then have the equivalent of a postgraduate degree, and you are ready to enter into the workforce or specialised training.


Keep in mind that some BTEC National qualifications are recognised as technical certificates, which are a part of the apprenticeship framework and can earn you UCAS points.[iii] However, before you set your sights on University or higher education at a specific institution, ensure that they accept BTEC Nationals.

How do BTEC grades work?

It’s essential to understand how BTEC grades work as you enter into this course of study.[iv]


Grades are calculated with a points-based scale, and you will always be given information on the individual specifications and how your grades will be assessed. Your grades are taken very seriously and are subject to quality assurance.


At the outset of each unit, you will receive specific information on the learning objectives of the course, the assessment criteria (what you need to do to reach Pass, Merit, or Distinction for each learning aim). Upon completion of each BTEC First unit, learners are given a grade of Distinction, Merit, Pass, or Unclassified. Next Generation BTEC Firsts include a Level 1 Pass (at the unit and qualification levels), and a Distinction* grade at the qualification level.


Your unit grades will reflect your personal achievements in different areas of knowledge, while your qualification grades reflect your performance during the entire course. For more information about how grades are calculated and what you can do to excel, speak with your course instructor.


All teachers and tutors are committed to assigning fair and honest grades. They receive extensive standardisation training to ensure that they understand the rubrics and apply them fairly across the student population.


UCAS Tariff Points for BTEC Qualifications

British Universities accept students into programmes of study based on the number of UCAS points they have accrued. If you are hoping to earn UCAS tariff points for your BTEC qualifications, you need to understand how the points are awarded.

The UCAS system awards points based on grades achieved in BTECs and A levels. It is vital that you check the number of points required for admittance into your University and course of choice.

Here are the UCAS conversions for some of the most popular BTEC qualifications.


Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma


Grade Tariff points:

D* D* D* – 168

D* D* D – 160

D*DD – 152

DDD – 144

DDM – 128

DMM – 112

MMM – 96

MMP – 80

MPP – 64

PPP – 48


Grade Tariff points:

D* D* – 112

D* D – 104

DD – 96

DM – 80

MM – 64

MP – 48

PP – 32


Size band: 4 + 4 + 4 = 12

Grade bands: 4 – 14


Size band: 4 + 4 = 8

Grade bands: 4 – 14





BTEC Lvl 3 National Foundation Diploma BTEC Lvl 3 National Extended Certificate BTEC Lvl 3 National Certificate


Grade Tariff points:

D* – 84

D – 72

M – 48

P – 24

Grade Tariff points:

D* – 56

D – 48

M – 32

P – 16

Grade Tariff points:

D* – 28

D – 24

M – 16

P – 8


Size band: 3 + 3 = 6

Grade bands: 4 – 14


Size band: 4

Grade bands: 4 – 14


Size band: 2

Grade bands: 4 – 14



For easy comparison, here are the UCAS points for A levels:

A* – 56

A – 48

B – 40

C – 32

D – 24

E – 16


The difference between BTEC & A Levels

There’s no doubt that both BTECs and A levels help you gain mastery of a topic and give you the knowledge you need for your career. Both qualifications give you a certificate that allows you to apply for further study at University and/or apply for certain jobs.

The main difference is that BTEC qualifications give you the chance to do a lot of practical and ‘hands-on’ work alongside your studies, while A level courses include more lectures, exams, oral presentations, and written essays. As with A levels, some BTECs are equivalent to GCSEs; it just depends on the level you complete.


BTECs allow for a lot of flexibility, so much so that some people choose to do BTECs and A Levels concurrently – at the same time. You can also work on a BTEC qualification on a part-time or full-time basis at college or Uni. Feel free to mix and match and choose the options that work best for you.

It’s important to note that a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma is equivalent to one A-level, a BTEC Diploma is equal to two A levels, and a BTEC Extended Diploma is the equivalent to three A-levels.


What are the BTEC equivalents of A Level and GCSE grades?

Before you embark on your BTEC Diploma, it’s important that you understand how BTECs compare to A level and GCSE grades.[v]


As mentioned above, you can choose from more than 2,000 BTEC qualifications across 16 different sectors. According to Pearson, an official exams board, how do the grades stack up against A levels and GCSEs?[vi]


Here is a simple chart to help you understand the comparison between A level grades and BTEC grades:


BTEC grade UCAS tariff UCAS equivalence to A-Level Equivalence to A Levels
Starred distinction 56 A* A
Distinction 48 A Between B and C
Merit 32 C Between C and D
Pass 16 E Between D and E

It’s crucial that you speak directly with your university department of choice to ensure that they accept BTEC qualifications. While most do, confirming this in advance will prevent disappointment or wasted time.

Can you get into Uni with a BTEC qualification?

You can absolutely get into Uni with a BTEC qualification. In fact, more than 100,000 BTEC students do just that each year and are admitted directly into the final year of many degree programmes.[vii] This means you won’t have to redo any subjects or be forced to sit through lessons about knowledge you already have, saving you both time and money.

Approximately 95% of UK universities accept BTECs, including prestigious institutions in the Russell Group. Recently, certain universities in the United Arab Emirates have also started to accept British BTECs, which expands your horizons even further.

Nearly one-quarter of all Uni students in 2015 earned their place with a BTEC qualification. In many instances, instructors find BTEC students a pleasure to have in their course, as they have a better grasp of the amount of independent study required at a degree level. After all, they’re already used to the amount of portfolio work Uni demands.

To move from a BTEC to a university degree, there are two common pathways:


If you’re planning to apply to University with a BTEC qualification, keep the following factors in mind:


The Most Popular BTEC subjects

The most popular BTEC subjects often change to meet the demands of the economy and the job market.[viii]

As of 2018, the five most common subjects at Level 3 were Business, Health & Social Care, Applied Science, Information Technology/Computing, and Sport. At Level 2, the five most popular subjects were Sport, Health & Social Care, Business, Performing Arts, and Information Technology/Computing. Which subjects are you most keen to study?


Is a BTEC Diploma right for you?

Many students get wrapped up in the idea that GCSEs and A levels are the only way to enter University or get on their desired right career path, and they forget about BTECs.

A BTEC Diploma can arm you with the knowledge and experience to excel in more than 2000 different roles across 16 sectors. Offering as much prestige and value as GCSEs and A levels and arguably even more employability, more and more students across the UK are seeking BTEC qualifications over other options. Which BTEC qualification best suits your needs?


Reference list

Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (2018). Can you get into University if you’re studying Btecs? – The Uni Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

Johnson, L. (2014). UK qualifications. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

Knight, M. (2018). What is a BTEC, and why is it seen as a popular alternative to A levels? [online] Youth Employment UK. Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

McGinley, M. (2018). Quick guide to BTECs – The Uni Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Nov. 2020].

Pearson (2018). 2018 BTEC results data shows more students acquiring the skills required to meet the changing needs of employers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

Pearson (2019). Pearson qualifications | Edexcel, BTEC, LCCI and EDI | Pearson qualifications. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

Pearson (2020). Assessment and grading | Pearson qualifications. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].

Pizzichini, L. (2013). Change for Good: BTEC on the move – Collins | Freedom to Teach. [online] Collins | Freedom to Teach. Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2020].




[ii] :







Teaching is a rewarding career, but for some people, it isn’t quite the right fit. Some people want a more technical role, a higher rate of pay, or a bigger challenge in a different field.

The daily routine might be getting you down, or maybe you want a more challenging role. You might be overwhelmed by the constant pressures facing you as a teacher, particularly as you are forced to teach your lessons from afar over Zoom or take online teaching courses.

If you are considering leaving your career as a teacher, you’re not alone. Plenty of people choose to leave this honourable profession for a wide variety of reasons, and they are highly sought after in a number of fields. Where will your training take you?


What to do after teaching

The world is your oyster. You might feel compelled to rush into a new career – if you have the resources, why not follow your dreams?

Alternative careers for teachers

There are plenty of other fields where you can apply your training, education, and skills. Some of the following alternative careers for teachers are related to education, while others are in different fields but require many of the same training and proficiencies. Here are some of the most interesting and rewarding alternative careers for headteachers and teachers.

Retraining for a new job

Retraining for a new job requires a high level of organisation, funds, and a commitment to learning. As you already have a degree and extensive training to be a teacher, you may not need any additional training for your dream career – it just depends on your chosen career.

The public sector is the largest UK employer, and it’s another career that allows you to use your skills to serve the public. Consider a role in healthcare, local government, administration, or civil service. Public sector jobs are varied and diverse – you could work in police administration, NHS planning and organisation, or roles with the local council.[v] While you might need additional training, with most of these roles, you can retrain on the job.


Are you creative? Are you a good writer? Do you enjoy coming up with witty taglines and pun-filled captions? If so, you might make the perfect social media manager. All it takes is a few online courses or an intensive training programme in social media, and you’ll be ready to apply to build your portfolio. Soon, you can apply to big corporations, cool start-ups, and non-profits that you admire. Some training options to consider include Hootsuite Academy and Facebook Blueprint, which is free.


Educational psychologists have traditionally been linked with the teaching profession; teaching experience used to be a mandatory requirement for this career path. You already enjoy working with learners and understand the tenets of pedagogy, so you are uniquely suited for this career. You will need to obtain a degree in psychology (if you don’t have one), and you’ll also need post-graduate training specifically in educational psychology.[vi] 


Are you an artsy type with an eye for design and art? If you want the freedom to express your creative side, graphic design could be for you. You’ll design branding packages, images for ad campaigns, and logos for companies at all levels. While some people become graphic designers without any specific training, you’ll have a better chance of success if you learn the basics. Most arts universities offer comprehensive graphic design training.


A career as a midwife is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling options out there. As you support women throughout their pregnancies and help deliver babies, you’ll truly be making a difference. [vii] Midwives are in demand all over the country in both the public and private sectors. You’ll need to complete a degree-level programme that is approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).


Life after teaching – a rich and robust career lays ahead

If you’re in a rut, you’re not alone. Even if teaching isn’t for you, you can put your existing skills and training to use in a variety of other jobs retrain for a completely different career.


Reference list

Association of Educational Psychologists (2019). AEP – Want to be an EP? [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

Farrah, M. (2011). How to change your career and become a midwife. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

Higginbotham, D. (2019). Overview of the public services sector in the UK | [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

NHS (2020). Learner Support. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].

NHS. (2019). Social worker. [online] Health Careers. Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].

Prospects (2020). Human resources officer job profile | [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].

Sheppard, E. (2016). Drained by stress, we quit teaching to start thriving businesses. [online] The Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2020].










The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world forever, impacting all aspects of social, economic, political, and community life. No sector has been hit as hard as the education sector, with teachers and administration struggling to reorganise and teach affectively both online and in socially distant classrooms.

COVID-19 has turned education on its head. Parents are struggling as their little ones try to learn on complicated Zoom chats, teens are panicking as they study for their GSCEs and A-levels, and university students are trapped in dorm accommodation as campuses are locked down.

While it’s easy to list the negative ways that COVID-19 has impacted education, there have been some positives as well. Teachers and students alike have been forced to get creative, and some parents have embraced the chance to spend more time with their children and get involved in their lessons.

How has coronavirus impacted education?

The most significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the UK has been the move towards e-learning, in which the teaching occurs remotely, and student access lessons on digital platforms.


The long-term effects of education disruption

The long-term effects of the disruption in education due to COVID-19 are worrying. Past studies that look at the after-effects of natural disasters show that they have lasting consequences on children’s learning. As a result, many go on to max out at lower levels of education, which hinders them in the rest of their lives. “Lower educational attainment is associated with lower earnings, higher crime rates, poorer health and mortality outcomes, and reduced participation in political and social institutions.”[iv]

No matter what happens, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure that disadvantaged students are supported and given extra resources so that they can catch up and stop falling behind. If we don’t do more to close this education gap, all pretences of a ‘meritocracy’ will be fully crushed. Without fair access to education, the poor will get poorer.


How students and teachers have adapted

After the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, never let it be said that students and teachers are not resilient and adaptable![v] More than 1.2 billion children around the world are or were out of the classroom at the height of the pandemic. The future is up in the air in the case of another lockdown.

Education has changed radically during the pandemic, and e-learning is more crucial than ever. While many parents and teachers bemoan the inefficient nature of online lessons, there may be more to the issue. Studies show that online learning can improve information retention and take far less time than traditional classroom learning, which the popularity of online courses demonstrates.[vi]

It seems that the rushed nature of the COVID-19 response could be to blame. After all, teachers have been given unclear guidance, ever-shifting rules to adhere to, and conflicting information the whole way through the pandemic. According to SecEd, “Misinformation about COVID-19, often peddled on social media, is causing “confusion and parental anxiety” and hampering schools’ efforts to fully reopen this term.[vii]

But even in light of this confusion, many students, parents and teachers alike are starting to get into a groove. They’re relishing some of the positives that our new e-learning world can offer.

Teachers report that the most noticeable benefit of online learning is that they can take the time to individualise the experience for different studies. They no longer have to pause the lesson to deal with certain students’ distracting behaviours (although, the onus for that has been shifted to the parents). As a result, students can progress at their own pace, without the pressures of the classroom.

Online learning also allows teachers to easily lay out assignments, set deadlines, and break information down into manageable ‘chunks’ that students have an easier time digesting. It’s easy to link to additional information, YouTube videos, and relevant articles to assist in the learning process.[viii]

Google Documents allow teachers and students to access the same document at the same time, giving teachers the opportunity to provide real-time feedback. This saves them time and effort – they don’t need to spend extra hours of their personal time to mark assignments or send comments.

While the current system is far from ideal, the resiliency and creativity of teachers, parents and students are awe-inspiring, with more innovation sure to come.

The current COVID-19 regulations for schools

The COVID-19 regulations for schools in England are continually shifting, so make sure you check with your local school for the most up to date information.

As of September 2020, all schools welcomed students back with no rotas or staggered learning.[ix] Schools are responsible for following all health and safety laws, which include conducting risk assessments and putting control methods into place.

All schools must enforce the following:

A Massive Experiment on Learning

No matter what, the COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history as a massive experiment on the very nature of modern learning. Laura McInerney, an education journalist, wonders, “the big philosophical question is: to what extent are schools there to facilitate the economic productivity of adults, versus the learning of children? That is, what if the learning loss isn’t as bad as we expect, and the children actually benefit from some elements of lockdown, for example from closer one-on-one attention, and time with their parents?” Only time will tell.

Will e-learning remain a vital part of education even after the pandemic is under control? Now that schools and parents alike have invested heavily into online learning platforms and modified lessons and methods to suit this paradigm, it may be here to stay.

Reference list

Franklin-Wallis, O. (2020). This is how the school shutdown will affect children for many years. [online] Wired UK. Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].

Henshaw, P. (2020). COVID-19: Online misinformation and unclear national guidance hampering schools. [online] The Sec. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

Li, C. (2020). COVID-19 has changed education forever — here’s how. [online] Apolitical. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2020].

Lyst, C. (2020). Coronavirus: What is a blended model of learning? BBC News. [online] 22 May. Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].

Mills, J. (2020). Almost 90% of teachers say social distancing impossible when schools reopen. [online] Metro. Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].

NHS (2020). Guidance for full opening: schools. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2020). Strengthening online learning when schools are closed: The role of families and teachers in supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis. [online] OECD. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

Pinto, S. and Bailey Jones, J. (2020). The Long-Term Effects of Educational Disruptions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].

Wilson, M. (2020). The coronavirus will widen the education gap in the UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2020].

US Department of Education (2010). Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies — October 2010 (PDF). [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2020].











Do you love dogs, cats, rabbits, and everything on four legs? Does spending time with four-legged friends sound like heaven on earth? Do you want to work in a rewarding and well-paying field?

If so, you would be perfect for a career working with animals. There are plenty of different career paths that allow you to spend your days working with all kinds of mammals, birds, reptiles, and even fish! Which career with animals is right for you?

What jobs can you get working with animals?[1]

There are dozens of different jobs you can get working with animals, from training big cats, handling dogs for the film industry, or helping sick pets get better. Some of these jobs require a university degree, while others allow you to can get to work right away without previous experience.

Here are just some of the jobs you can get working with animals.

What qualifications do you need to work with animals?

The qualifications required to work with animals depend on which specific career path you are most interested in pursuing. The requirements to groom animals are very different than those needed to train police or guide dogs or perform veterinary surgery! Taking animal courses online is always a great way to learn more about your chosen career path and gain valuable education. Below, we run through the basic qualifications required for different careers involving animals.


Working for an animal charity: you usually need clerical experience and a university degree (although some positions may only require A-levels).[2]

Working on a farm with livestock: this doesn’t usually have an educational requirement at all, just a willingness to engage in hard work and get your hands dirty.

Veterinarian: you will need to undergo a veterinary degree approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.[3] This degree will take an average of five years; veterinary nurses follow different specialised education that usually takes three years. You will need A grades in your A levels or Scottish Highers in order for these programmes to accept you for study. You should take biology and at least one other maths or science subject, and volunteer with animals at zoos, shelters, or a vet’s office.

RSPCA: The RSPCA offers a series of apprenticeships that begin with Level 2 (GCSE) and progress up to Level 6 (degree).  You will start as an animal collection officer, move up to an animal welfare officer, and eventually become an inspector. Check out their website for available roles and career progression information.

Dog groomer: You can apply for an assistant grooming role even with no education or experience. However, there is specialised training out there, including Level 2 and 3 certificates, as well as apprenticeships with Pets At Home in their Groom Room. Pets At Home also offer Levels 2 to 7 apprenticeships in the pet retail business, giving you experience in finance, customer service, human resources, warehousing, and marketing.Volunteering allows you to dip your toes into working with animals, and gives you experience for your CV. The National Animal Welfare Trust offers two-week volunteer placements. Many vet’s offices, shelters, charities, and wildlife centres also provide volunteer opportunities – get in touch with them and find out if you can be of service.

Skills needed to work with animals

The first quality you need to have for a successful career with animals is one you already have – a love of animals! Here are some of the other skills and qualities you need to have for a career working with animals.[4]



Getting work experience with animals

As we mentioned above, one of the best ways you can gain work experience with animals is to volunteer, but there are other options as well. Here is a more detailed guide that will help you gain the practical experience that you need to get started.[5]


Volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue

Animal shelters and rescues need dedicated volunteers to help keep their organisations running smoothly. Not only can you help them care for their animals, but you can also gain valuable experience for your CV and university application. You’ll be responsible for cleaning kennels, providing obedience training, and assisting with adoptions.


Work at a veterinary clinic

Perhaps you would like to earn some money while you gain experience? If so, apply to work at a veterinary clinic as an assistant or clerical clerk. You’ll learn how to handle difficult animals, understand animal behaviour, and care for sick and ailing pets. Even if you decide to follow a different career path, these attributes are desirable in a number of professions.


Provide pet sitting services

Pet sitting is an animal care job that requires no training or education, just a trustworthy personality, responsibility, and a lot of love! You can apply to work with an established pet sitter or boarder or advertise your services on apps such as Pawshake.


Volunteer at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre or Zoo

Your local zoo or wildlife centre likely has a volunteer programme designed to give young people a chance to get experience with animals. Get in touch and find out how you can apply. Do note that these types of opportunities are often very competitive, so put your best foot forward.


Apply to work at a stable or farm

Do you want to spend your days with horses or livestock? If you answered a resounding ‘yes’ then a volunteer or paid role on a working farm or ranch might be the perfect fit. You don’t need any previous training or experience to muck out stalls or feed livestock, and you will gain valuable knowledge about livestock behaviour.


Take part in an internship

Plenty of organisations, dog groomers, and even retail chains (see info on Pets At Home above) offer internships to help you gain experience working with animals. You’ll find the following internships focused on animals across the UK:


Shadow an individual in your field of interest

Get in touch with an individual who works in the field in which you are most interested in working and ask if you could shadow them for a week or two. This will give you a chance to ask questions and learn more about the daily tasks required.

Careers working with animals are a wonderful and rewarding way to help our four-legged friends and earn a good living. Which professional path is right for you?


Reference list

Knowles, E. (2019). Jobs working with animals | [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

Kramer, M. (2019). 10 Ways to Gain Experience Working With Animals. [online] The Balance Careers. Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

National Careers Service (2020). Vet | Explore careers | National Careers Service. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Sep. 2020].

Prospects (2018). Animal technician job profile | [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

Target Careers (2013). Top animal jobs and how to get into them. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].






Are you planning to take a year between the end of sixth form and the start of Uni? If so, you’re one of the many young people across the UK (and around the world) who wants to explore the world and expand their horizons.[i]

There’s no need to rush into a university course you are unsure about or take on a dull job you’re not passionate about. Instead, take some time to explore your options, learn about yourself, and explore all that the planet has to offer.

What is a gap year?

First, you need to know exactly what a gap year is, and how it can benefit your long-term goals.

Simply put, a gap year is a year (or even longer) that you take between the end of your secondary schooling and before your entrance into university.[ii] Most young people choose to travel internationally during this ‘gap.’ However, the time can also be spent learning new skills, engaging in education, taking on an apprenticeship, or only working to save money.

You might backpack through South East Asia, scale the Himalayas, teach English in Moscow, undergo yoga teacher training in Peru, or pick fruit in Australia – the sky really is the limit! Whether you backpack, apprentice, take courses, work to save money, or learn new skills, a gap year will change your life.

While you might worry about the gap on your CV, most employers and institutions are thrilled to see that you’ve taken a gap year. Young people who have embarked upon a gap year

One quick note – we know that gap years used to be seen as the domain of only the rich and spoiled. After all, how else could someone afford to take time away from studies or employment? These days, people from all walks of life are planning for and taking gap years. Even if you’re the first person in your family to go to Uni, a gap year is still an option.

How do you take a gap year?

So, by now, a gap year probably sounds pretty amazing! But how do you actually go about making it happen? Here are some of the steps you need to take to make your dream a reality.


Start by planning

Wait, you’re taking a gap year because you want fun and spontaneity, right? Well, for all the pieces to fall into place, you also need to plan ahead. Trust me – a bit of planning will make your entire experience so much more worthwhile. The last thing you want is to kick yourself later because you didn’t plan properly in the first place.

Some of the factors you need to consider and plan for include:

Check out the resources on Go Overseas or Go Abroad to learn more about some of the options and resources out there.


Talk to your friends and family about your plans

Chances are, someone in your friend and family group has done a gap year in the past. They will likely have some good advice and solid tips for your own journey. Ask them for honest advice about your plans – they might be able to see some holes or problems with your ideas.

When you’re actually out on the road, start a blog or dedicated Instagram account to keep everyone updated about your amazing journey. You’ll love looking back over this chronicle in the future.


Start brainstorming your itinerary!

Now the fun really begins. Start by jotting down all of the weird, wonderful, and exciting ideas and goals that you have for your trip. What do you want to learn? What skills do you want to acquire? Where do you want to travel? It’s important to be honest and practical about your limitations and abilities when you plan your attainable goals.

Now, kiss the plan goodbye

Wait, what? You’ve but all of the time and effort into planning and getting feedback, but now you’re supposed to kiss the plan goodbye? Exactly. Your careful planning and diligence set you up and gave you the baseline of knowledge necessary for a fantastic experience. Now it’s time to let go of the strict ‘rules’ and allow for some flexibility.

Plan on throwing away your plans, at least some of the time. This flexibility will allow you to take advantage of fantastic opportunities, follow your heart, and join new friends on adventures. Go where the wind takes you!

Costs associated with a gap year

Gap year costs will vary from person to person. Someone planning to backpack through India on a shoestring will undoubtedly spend a lot less than someone who prefers to splash out on hotels and posh accommodation in America.[iii]

No matter what your preferred level of accommodation and destination of choice, it’s crucial that you plan for the associated costs. Research your destination(s) online and ask for pricing advice on travel forums and in online groups. With this information, you can put together an accurate budget.

Are you planning on participating in an organised gap year programme? If so, they will be able to offer you a reliable estimate about how much money you should be prepared to spend on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Some programmes include lodging and food, but you will still need to foot the bill for your transportation and spending money.

Always ensure that you have enough money to cover emergencies, and always invest the extra cost in travel insurance.

How you can fund your gap year

Most people don’t have an endless supply of funds from the bank of mum and dad. So, how else can you fund your gap year?


Gap year ideas

The sky is truly the limit when it comes to your gap year! Here are just a few of our favourite ideas.[iv]

  1. Take the time to gain more skills and education – Whether you do this in your hometown or while travelling abroad, take the time to add to your CV and prepare your mind for Uni. Is there a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about? Or maybe you want to add another A-level to your Uni application? Why not take some online A-level courses?
  1. Travel the globe – Travelling is the most popular ways to spend your gap year. Travel throughout the world, learn a new language, meet new people, and check fascinating sites off of your bucket list. Just remember always to be respectful of local cultures – this may be your holiday destination, but it’s their home.
  1. Volunteer – There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer close to home, or why not travel abroad and lend your skills? If you don’t have a niche or skillset, you could likely work with animals, agriculture, or grassroots projects. However, be very wary of volunteer roles with children, particularly in ‘orphanages.’ Many of these orphanages are set up to bilk travellers out of money – the children may not actually be orphans, and are instead exploited for your benefit.[v] Any reputable agency will require you to undergo extensive training to work with children, and it isn’t usually appropriate for young travellers.
  2. Earn money – Of course, not everyone can afford to travel, or to fund their University education. Why not take a gap year to earn money to support your future studies?
  1. Do an internship at home or abroad – Not only will an internship boost your Uni application, but it will also add vital skills to your CV. An internship can help you learn new proficiencies, gain valuable contacts, and test out whether your chosen field is really right for you.

Pros and Cons

Everybody has their own unique reasons for wanting (or not wanting) to take a gap year. Make your own pros and cons list – if they apply, get started with the ideas below.

Pros of a gap year:


Cons of a gap year:

So, will you take the leap?

A gap year requires planning, saving, and bravery, but the rewards are so very worthwhile. What will you do during yours?


Reference list

Alwine, R. (2019). What is a Gap Year & How Do You Take One? [online] Go Overseas. Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

Bower, M. (2015). What do employers think of gap years? [online] Career Camel. Available at: [Accessed 19 Sep. 2020].

Clark, J. (2018). How to take a gap year: before, during and after | GVI UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

Dicks, J. (2018). Top 5 Things To Do In A Gap Year in 2020 & 2021 | Projects Abroad UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

Rosenberg, T. (2018). The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm? [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 20 Sep. 2020].

Sherifi, M. (2017). Gap Year. [online] Gap Year. Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].

The Backpacking Site (2017). Gap Year Costs & Financing. [online] The Backpacking Site. Available at: [Accessed 18 Sep. 2020].






If you want to live out your dreams and enter into the career you’ve always wanted, you need to go to the right university. Understanding the UCAS (The University and Colleges Admissions Service) system will ensure that you earn the correct number of points for the degree and uni of your choice.

UCAS points are assigned to different grades earned in post-16 qualifications, such as A-levels and AS-levels, and Scottish Highers.[i] They are also allocated to a variety of certificates, diplomas, and awards.

Do you have enough UCAS points to get into uni? Read ahead to find out more about how the points system works, and how you can earn more points for your application.


How do UCAS points work?

Each different qualification awarded in the UK (A-levels and Scottish Highers, for example) are granted a size band value that ranges from 1 to 4 based on how many learning hours the course takes. They are also assigned a grade band point, from 3 to 14.[ii]

To find out how many UCAS points you will be awarded for your qualification, multiply the two together. Size band value x Grande band point = tariff points.

It’s important to note that the tariff points have changed since 2017, and they are now much lower. An A-level grade A* was once worth 140 points but is now worth 56 points. Universities value your A-level studies just as much as they did in the past, but their entry requirements are now scaled down to use lower numbers.

This table will help you understand the points awarded for A-level qualifications. Head to the UCAS website for a complete list of the tariffs.[iii]

Grade A’ Levels AS Levels
A* 56
A 48 20
B 40 16
C 32 12
D 24 10
E 16 6

Source: UCAS Tariff Calculator


A few things to consider when it comes to UCAS points:

If you don’t understand the entry requirements for the course and uni you want to attend, get in touch with the registrar’s office as soon as possible.


How many UCAS points do I need?

Simply put, the number of UCAS points you need depends on the specific university, subject, and course in which you want to enrol. Every different course has different requirements that usually include exam grades, subjects taken, and qualifications earned.[iv]

Entry requirements usually include the following:

In some cases, universities and colleges will try to make the admissions process fairer by offering contextual admissions. In these cases, they will consider the hurdles and challenges that you might face and give you additional consideration.

If you have been away from education for more than a few years, you may receive accreditation for life or work experience through the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) programme.[v] You’ll receive credit for your training, work, and/or self-directed study.



What if I don’t have enough UCAS points?

Every student’s nightmare – you didn’t accumulate the minimum UCAS points included on your offer. What should you do?



Where can you get UCAS points from?

There are plenty of different ways that you can get UCAS points, and nearly all of them involve taking on extra academic work.[ix] While these academic credentials boost your profile with the Uni Admissions Department, especially if you choose from the list of facilitating subjects.

That said, you can also have a lot of fun earning valuable vocational qualifications– they’ll benefit your career and earn you additional points. In addition to helping you gain entry to your uni of choice, they’ll help boost your CV and prepare you for your career.

You can also transform your hobbies into extra UCAS points – you’ll need to have them assessed by a tutor or body, but this is a good way to gain points without taking too much time away from your academic work.


Take additional A-levels and AS levels

The most obvious place to get UCAS points is from A-levels and AS-levels, which is why some students consider taking more than the standard three.  It’s not uncommon for the most promising students to take four or even five A-levels, with an extra AS-level on top.

That said, don’t feel too intimidated if you are only taking three A-levels – most offers are based on this amount (with the top universities sometimes giving an offer that includes four A-levels providing the student is enrolled in four).

An extra A-level will give you a leg up, as it adds 56 points to your UCAS tally if you earn an A* grade. Speak with your teachers to find out what they recommend, and to get their advice for planning your timetable so that you can make your extra studies fit into your schedule.

Earn a Level 3 Diploma, Certificate or Award

Try getting an online qualification in your spare time.  If you can handle the extra work on top of your A-level studies, it can really pay off.

In addition to helping you gain UCAS points for your University application, a Level 3 Diploma, Certificate or Award can get you started with your career. It can equip you with valuable skills and experience in accounting, photography, and even “Personal Effectiveness” (a certificate in which will earn you 16 points). We’re the first to admit that doing an entire Diploma (which gives you at least 30 points) might be too much to handle, a certificate could be doable. The NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Photography is worth 24 points.

If both of these options sound like too much additional work, you could try for an Award.[x] They provide you with 8 points in recognition of your accomplishments in different areas, projects and leadership roles. Imagine earning points for your blog or YouTube channel! It’s possible. A Trinity College Gold Arts Award offers 16 points, so it is worth finding out if you are eligible.[xi]


Boost your Maths Knowledge with a Free-standing Mathematics Qualification

You might not be taking an A-level in Mathematics, but you can still show your potential uni that you are proficient in the subject matter by taking a Free-standing Mathematics Qualification. The qualification difficulty is between a GCSE and AS-level Maths exam, and if you reach the Advanced Level, it shows that you have the equivalent of an A-level. This is ideal if you are doing all humanities A-levels and want to demonstrate your maths skills. Choose between Using and Applying Statistics, Additional Maths, Working with Algebraic and Graphical Techniques, and Modelling with Calculus, for which you’ll gain 20 points for an A grade.


Work on a Cambridge Pre-U Qualification

Cambridge International Examinations offers their unique Cambridge Pre-U programme that allows you to replace your A-levels with a diploma. You can also take a shorter course across the span of a year (which you take alongside your A-level studies) – choose from Classical Heritage, Comparative Government and Politics, and Economics. You can also take one of the Modern Languages short courses – choose from French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and German. Admissions departments now acknowledge these courses as the invaluable resources they are, and even Ivy League Universities in America will recognise them. You’ll receive up to 56 UCAS points for the full courses in the ‘Principal Subjects,’ and up to 22 points for the short courses.


Get Graded on your Speech and Drama Skills

You can gain points by demonstrating your prowess in speech and drama, from Grade 6 and up. You’ll earn up to 30 points for a distinction at a Grade 8 level. If you want to really push yourself, you can enrol in the LAMDA Level 3 Certificate in Speech & Drama: Performance Studies. In this programme, you’ll hone your dramatic acting skills and work on oration, which will help you in many different careers. You don’t have to be an aspiring actor – you can simply be someone who enjoys getting up on the stage. If you successfully complete the PCertLAM, you’ll gain 24 points.


Demonstrate your mastery of English with the Cambridge ESOL Examinations

If you think you have an extremely high level of English language knowledge, the Certificate of Proficiency in English will earn you 32 UCAS points. The test will assess your reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities. In addition to gaining extra tariff points, preparing for the test will equip you with vital skills that will improve your performance at uni, and help with your oral presentations and essay writing through to the PhD level. You can also take the Certificate in Advanced English, which will give you 42 points if you earn an A-grade.


How to earn extra UCAS points quickly

Are you looking to quickly earn some additional UCAS points to bolster your chances of getting into the uni of your choice? Try the following strategies.[xii]


Online qualifications – These days, there are tons of online courses that can help you boost your knowledge and achieve better marks on your A-levels. To be able to complete your course, all you need is a computer and access to the internet. The qualification is the same – the only difference is the format of study.

Take a community-based course and get points for volunteer work –
Educational charity ASDAN has a few different community-based courses on offer that can help you gain extra UCAS points for volunteer work.[xiii] Look into the CoPE (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness), which allows you to record and develop a number of personal attributes. Completing this course will give you 16 UCAS points over the course of 150 hours (compared to 360 hours for an A-Level). You can also gain a total of 18 points (6 points each) from their three different Wider Skills courses – Improving Your Own Learning and Performance, Working with Others, and Problem Solving.

Have your musical talents assessed – While you might not be able to learn a musical instrument from scratch in a few months, you can get graded on your existing talents! If you have yet to be examined and are above a grade 6, you could earn precious UCAS points that will improve your university chances. It’s a lot to arrange on short notice, but private music tutors can grade you within just a few weeks.


Gain equestrian credit – If you are an avid horseback rider, you can gain credits by taking qualifications offered by the British Horse Society. While they initially designed these qualifications for people who plan on a career in the equestrian world, they are an excellent way for horse lovers to earn extra UCAS points. The BHS offers 32 points for the EQL Level 3 Diploma in BHS Riding Horses, 24 points for the EQL Level 3 Diploma in BHS Horse Knowledge and Care, and 16 points for EQL Level 3 Certificate in BHS Preliminary Teaching of Horse Riding. You can also earn 8 points each for Horse Knowledge and Care, Horse Knowledge, Care and Riding, and BHS Level 3 Preliminary Teacher’s Certificate (Equine Coach).


Earn extra points by dancing! – Did you know that being ‘light on your toes’ can actually help you to earn some extra UCAS points? It’s true – several accredited organisations, including the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, the British Ballet Organisation, the British Theatre Dance Association, and the Royal Academy of Dance, all offer graded dance qualifications. You can earn up to a maximum a total of 20 points for a Distinction at the Grade 8 level.


UCAS points in Conclusion

Now that you understand how UCAS points work, it’s time to start thinking about how you can ensure that you earn enough of them to meet your offer condition. Remember, if your preferred offer is conditional, you should seek to add an insurance offer to your UCAS profile.

It’s also important to note that the UCAS point system was fully restructured in 2017. That means that a lot of the information out there is outdated and includes the older point tariffs. Make sure you’re looking at the right point tariffs before you start planning your strategy to earn the total that you need.

It’s always a good idea to plan to earn more UCAS points than you think you will need. That way, if you do not achieve the grades you are hoping for, you will still have enough tariff points to accept any conditional offers.

Good luck, and happy studying!


Extended reading resource:-



Reference list

Arts Award (2020a). Gold Arts Award – Arts Award. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2020].

Arts Award (2020b). Gold Arts Award UCAS FAQ – Arts Award. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2020]

BBC Bitesize (2020). What is Clearing? [online] BBC Bitesize. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Ellett, P. (2018). Ucas Tariff: everything you need to know about Ucas points – The Uni Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Oliver, C. (2019). UCAS points. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Maples, B. (2012). Retaking A Levels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2020].

Oxford Royale Academy (2017). 10 Brilliant Ways to Get More UCAS Points. [online] Oxford Royale Academy. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Poltawski, L. (2002). Accreditation of Prior Learning. University of Gloucestershire. [online] 88(7), p.448. Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2020].

Success at School (2020). How to get extra UCAS points through volunteering. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2020].

Target Careers (2019). Results day tales: getting into university if you didn’t get the grades | TARGETcareers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Tutorful (2020). UCAS: Deadlines and 3 Genius Ways to Get Extra UCAS Points: A Complete University Application Guide: More Offers, Less Stress. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

UCAS (2020). Latest from the blogs. [online] UCAS. Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2020].

UCAS (2018). UCAS. [online] UCAS. Available at: [Accessed 20 Aug. 2020].

UCAS (2014). UCAS Undergraduate entry requirements. [online] UCAS. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].
















Have you always loved reading about the days of yore? Do you enjoy watching historical documentaries on telly? Were school field trips to ancient ruins and palaces your favourite days of the year?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, a degree in history might be the right path for you. However, you may have heard that a history degree ‘won’t get you very far.’ As you’ll see in this article, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Before you decide to do a history degree, you can always take a few history courses online. They will help you ‘get your feet wet’ and find out if you’d be interested in learning more about history in a structured setting.

History – a useless degree?

While you might have heard that history is ‘a useless degree’ from people who want you to go into the sciences or tech fields, it simply isn’t the case. The New York Federal Reserve Bank’s ‘2017 Labor Market Study,’ people who study history earn an average of $25,000 more each year than the US national median salary.[i] That doesn’t sound very ‘useless,’ now does it?

Did you know that some very famous and essential people chose to do a degree in history? Winston Churchill, Gordon Brown, W.E.B DuBois, and seven different American presidents all took history! So too did writer Salman Rushdie, documentarian and journalist Louis Theroux, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and Hackney Labour MP Diane Abbot. [ii]


So, what can you do with a history degree?

This degree equips you with many useful history graduate skills. Most importantly, you’ll learn the importance of recognising and applying the patterns of the past. History teaches us just how crucial problem-solving and analytical skills are to success in any industry. Debating the lessons of the past with like-minded academics and professors will arm you with the quick thinking and analysis needed to advance in your career.[iii]

In addition to improving your career prospects, a history degree will improve your trivia knowledge, help you understand the world’s current events, and solve complex problems in your own life. You’ll be well-equipped to succeed in a variety of different fields, particularly business, law, and politics.[iv]


The best jobs you can get with a history degree

Once you have a history degree, you are primed for a variety of exciting and interesting careers.[v] Employers in most fields will be impressed by your history degree, as it shows that you can complete complex academic projects and that you are dedicated to problem-solving. Even if the following careers don’t always directly correspond to the specifics of a history degree, you’ll find that employers are excited to see this field of study on your CV.


Transferable skills learnt during a history degree

Your undergraduate history degree will give you plenty of soft skills that will serve you throughout your entire career.[vi] These transferable skills include:

Employers in a variety of fields look for these skills when hiring new recruits. Your history degree demonstrates that you have these competencies and more.

Did you know that the skills you gain in this so-called ‘useless degree’ can set you up for financial success in your career? It’s true – the transferrable skills that you gain in a history degree will get you ready for management and CEO positions. In the US, 15% of humanities grads go on to lucrative management roles.[vii] That’s followed by 14% who work in admin and office jobs, 13% in sales (which can also be very well-paid), 12% in education, and 10% who work in finance and business.

According to a report by the BBC, employers are always on the hunt for specific soft skills. [viii] The cited LinkedIn’s 2019 research on employers’ most desired skills, which found that creativity, persuasion, and collaboration were in hot demand. These are precisely the skills that your degree in history will foster and help you to develop.

Are you, (or your parents) worried that you won’t be able to compete in the fast-paced world of tech? A history degree can even help you in the STEM fields. According to the BBC article, Microsoft executives are in the market for more humanities graduates. According to the CEO, “as computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.


Is it worth doing a history degree?

While history is certainly not for everyone, if you enjoy learning about the past and immersing yourself in world events, it might just be the right path for you. Don’t worry for one second that it could be a ‘dead end’ – as you can see above, there are plenty of exciting and well-paid careers for people with history degrees. Now, you just need to decide what era and region you are most interested in studying!


Reference list

AGCAS editors (2020). What can I do with a history degree? | [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019). Occupations of Humanities Majors with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree. [online] American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

Chiu, M. (2019). Best Ways to Use a History Degree: Careers & Salary Potential. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

Rasheed, R. (2020). Top ten celebrities with a History degree. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

Ruggeri, A. (2019). Why ‘worthless’ humanities degrees may set you up for life. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

Tucker, L. (2014). What Can You Do With a History Degree? [online] Top Universities. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].

University of St. Andrews (2020)History | University of St Andrews. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2020].











With tens of thousands of graduates in your field every year, you need any advantage you can get. An internship can help set you apart from the crowd and give you the skills, connections, and experience you need to succeed. There is a lot of competition out there for graduate jobs, and so an internship can make you a more attractive recruit to employers in your chosen field.

First, you need to understand – what is an internship, how do they work, and are they paid? This guide will help you know internships and decide whether this option is right for you.

What is an internship?

Employers offer internships to students and recent graduates in the hopes of finding future employees and gaining affordable access to labour. Internships are usually paid but can be unpaid as well. Interns work for an organisation for a period of time, generally between one and six months, in order to gain valuable skills and experience. In some cases, internships take place alongside university coursework.[i]

Internships are quite different than apprenticeships, offering different skills and benefits. Apprenticeships are vocational programmes that allow participants to work towards an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification).[ii] Apprenticeships require a long-term commitment, while internships can be much more flexible.

Apprenticeships usually take place four days a week, and you’ll spend the fifth day learning in a training centre or classroom. In the past, apprenticeships were usually restricted to the trades, but today you can do an apprenticeship in a wide variety of fields, including law, marketing, and accounting.

Apprenticeships usually last 12 to 18 months, and apprentices often stay with their employer even after their training is complete. All apprenticeships are paid at least the minimum wage (or apprenticeship rate), while some internships are unpaid. Which is best for you?

An internship will help you succeed in your future career, and so too can online education. Improve your knowledge with an A-Level Course before you embark upon your internship journey.


Are internships paid?

This question does not have a simple answer! According to UK labour laws, employers must pay all workers. So, that should include interns, right? Well, it depends.[iii] Some employers classify their interns as students, which means that they can ‘get away’ without paying them. Always clearly define your role and your payment terms before you begin an apprenticeship.


Your employer must pay you at least the national minimum wage in the following circumstances:


However, they do not have to pay you at all in the following cases:


Many people view unpaid internships as exploitative, or ‘taking advantage,’ as they allow an employer to profit from your effort without paying you. They also erect a class barrier, as people who have a lower economic status will not be able to take part in an unpaid internship. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty, as they lose out on a valuable opportunity for future career growth. If you come from a wealthy family, you might be able to take on an unpaid internship, but this is simply not possible for most people.


Should you consider doing a short unpaid internship? Well, it depends on your personal circumstances, and if you can afford to do so. If you do, make sure that it benefits your future career, doesn’t interfere with paid work or educational opportunities, and doesn’t exploit your labour. You should be able to set your own hours and genuinely get something out of the experience.

You may also want to consider an unpaid internship abroad. Even though you won’t usually get paid for international internships (and you often have to pay for them), they offer a plethora of other benefits. International experience, cross-cultural exchange, and the excitement of travel – many people make an exception for these benefits. See more about international internships below.

How to get an internship

They can help you boost your education, add to your CV, and gain valuable experience – are you ready to look for an internship?

You should start your internship search by speaking to your instructors and asking if they know of any suitable opportunities. Universities often have contacts with employers and can help you arrange an internship. You can also reach out to your (and your parents’) personal connections – they may know of an organisation who are looking to take on an intern. They can introduce you and even put in a good word on your behalf.

Next, head online and start searching on internship sites and databases.[iv] The most popular website in the UK is Milkround, which also lists graduate jobs and placements and is very easy to navigate. Check out TARGET Jobs, who also list loads of work placements, internships, and graduate jobs. Looking for a summer internship? You should check out e4s, which lists both part and full-time opportunities available for gap years.

Perhaps you didn’t go to university, or you finished some time ago. Then the best site is Studentjob, which can help you get experience and make connections without paying any tuition fees.

Are you wondering how to get a free internship abroad? Check out Prospects, which lists loads of different international internships. Do note that many international internships come with associated costs for administrative fees and mandatory room and board.[v]

If you want to do an internship abroad without paying hefty costs, you should organise an independent internship by contacting companies that interest you directly. Of course, you could also roll an international internship into a university course – you have to pay for credits anyway, so why not also benefit from on the job training in an exotic locale?

Check out these handy resources for your international apprenticeship search:

Good luck, and if things go well, bon voyage!



How long do internships go on for?

Every internship is different, but they should always be organised for a fixed period of time.[vi] They can last for any amount of time, from one week to 12 months. Never enter into an internship without written details about how long your work placement will last.


Is an internship in your future?

Employers often choose new recruits from their pool of past interns, so this is a brilliant opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on. If you are hoping to make valuable connections, learn from a mentor, and gain relevant experience for your CV, an internship is a brilliant opportunity. Not only will you ‘learn the ropes’ on the job in your chosen industry, you can make sure that it’s truly the right field for your future.

While unpaid internships might be a good choice in rare cases, look for a paid internship. Which internship is right for you?

Reference list

Boast, S. (2015). 6 sites you need to know for internship opportunities. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Giolando, E. (2018). 3 Ways to Intern Abroad for Free| Internships Abroad | Go Overseas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Professional Apprenticeships (2020). Apprenticeship or Internship, what’s the difference? [online] Professional Apprenticeships. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Smith, J. (2019). Internships | [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Target Jobs (2012). The law on unpaid internships: know your rights. [online] TARGETjobs. Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

WikiJobs (2011). What Is an Internship – And Why Should You Do One? [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].








After you complete your online GCSE courses, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do next. Will you go on to do A-levels and apply to university, or do you prefer to take a practical approach? If you would like to get a leg up on your career, you should consider an apprenticeship in your chosen field.

Did you know that you can undertake an apprenticeship in one of more than 1,500 different jobs in the UK? More than 70 universities and 200 colleges are licensed to offer higher and degree apprenticeships that allow you to get vital on-the-job training while earning credentials and getting paid.

In the past, people thought of apprenticeships as something only for the trades, but this is certainly no longer the case. Your parents or friends might think that a degree is the best way to a good ‘white-collar’ job, but today’s apprenticeships rival even the most elite university education. Both a degree and an apprenticeship allow you to demonstrate your work ethic, intelligence, and ability to think on your feet, and both result in valuable qualifications.

So, what’s the difference? They are two different approaches to learning. Apprenticeships are more ‘hands-on,’ while degrees are based more on traditional book learning and classroom instruction.

What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are ways to train for a new job that allow you to get instruction and hands-on education while working under a trained professional.[i] While some apprenticeships include classroom instruction, others occur purely on-the-job. A trained employer teaches you the skills and knowledge you need, allowing to gain the license you need to work in certain regulated professions.

How do they work?

People have been engaging in certain forms of apprenticeships for millennia! You are paid to do a job while you simultaneously train for a formal qualification.[ii] While some apprenticeships include a lot of classroom time, others are mainly focused on on-the-job training.

How long do they last?

Most apprenticeships last between one and six years. The time span will depend on your industry, the level you are working at, and how much prior experience you have.[iii]

What apprenticeships are there?

Apprenticeships in the UK are broken down into four levels.[iv] These are:

Each of these different levels has its own rules and regulations, including varying entry requirements. For higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships, your employer will likely require that you have A levels and/or other Level 3 qualifications. Your starting apprenticeship level will depend on your previous experience, education, and the apprenticeship standard of the employer. You can undertake an apprenticeship in more than 1,500 positions in the UK. Don’t let that overwhelm you – you can search for available apprenticeships using this official Government database.

Here are five of the most popular types of apprenticeships:[v]

Average apprenticeship wages

As an apprentice, you will earn at least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices, which is currently £4.15 per hour (for under 19s, and over 19s who are in the first year of their apprenticeship).[vi] Remember, you will also acquire educational credits and certifications while you are earning your wages, so the real value of your work is much higher.

You are legally entitled to be paid for:


If you work hard and put a lot of effort into your studies, you can get a lot out of your apprenticeship!

At the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll receive a nationally recognised qualification. These include:[vii]

While earning these tangible qualifications, you will also be enhancing and learning all sorts of new skills that will transfer into your working life.[viii] Soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and working within a team, are all desirable attributes that employers want. As you work alongside experienced experts, you will build your skills, knowledge, and competency.


How to get an apprenticeship

Follow these steps to apply for – and get – an apprenticeship.[ix]




Pros & Cons of apprenticeships

Everyone considering an apprenticeship should make their own list of pros and cons. Here are some of the things you should think about when drafting your list and making your decision.




Are apprenticeships worth it?

Everyone has their own preferences for education. But when it comes to getting on-the-job training while earning an income and making connections in your field, nothing beats an apprenticeship. Not only will you get a great job in an industry you care about, but you will finish your education without huge student loan debt. What do you think – is an apprenticeship worth it for you?

Reference list

Creative Alliance (2016). Level 2,3 And 4 Apprenticeships … What’s The Difference? [online] Creative Alliance. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Government Digital Service (2012). Become an apprentice. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

HM Government (2019a). Everything you need to know about apprenticeships and how to become one. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

HM Government (2019b). How to apply for an apprenticeship and what’s needed from you. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Knowles, E. (2019). What is an apprenticeship? | [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Not Going To Uni (2016). Five Most Popular Types of Apprenticeship. [online] Notgoingtouni. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (2017). UCAS. [online] UCAS. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Wikipedia Contributors (2020). Apprenticeship. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].

Worksmart (2018). What can I expect to gain from an apprenticeship? | WorkSmart: The career coach that works for everyone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2020].











As the world has been thrust into the uncertainty and economic crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment numbers have risen to unprecedented heights. While some people have been laid off or ‘let go,’ others have been furloughed. But what exactly does furlough mean for employees?

Have you been furloughed? Or maybe your bosses have mentioned that furlough is a possibility? If so, read our guide to everything you need to know about being furloughed.

What is furlough?

If you are like most people across the UK, you were likely unfamiliar with the term ‘furlough’ until the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Furlough’ means to be sent home with pay. It’s a term that is usually encountered during times of economic hardship or crisis in which the government steps in to help businesses and prevent them from closing their doors.[i] Businesses will put their employees on furlough because they are not earning any profits during the pandemic and/or will simply have nothing for their employees to do.

Under the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government will assist your employer in paying you 80% of your wage, up to a maximum of £2,500 each month. This scheme does not apply to self-employed people, who are eligible for their own SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) grants.

You do not automatically qualify for the current furlough scheme, and you cannot apply for the money yourself – your employer must first agree to the conditions and apply to the government. Some employers choose to top up the remaining 20%, but this is not a requirement. Similarly, if you usually earn more than £2,500 each month, your employer may choose to top you up. Again, this is not a requirement. You will still be required to pay your typical national insurance contributions and income tax while you are on furlough.

Remember – even if you are on a zero-hour contract, you are still entitled to furlough pay.[ii] In this case, your employer will pay you 80% of your average monthly wages, since the time that you started working for them. If you have worked for your company for less than one year, they will pro-rata your average monthly salary. You are not eligible for furlough pay if you began working on 28 February 2020. In this case, you should apply for unemployment benefits.


What does it mean for employees?

Simply put, your time on furlough is your time. It is up to you to do with it what you choose! For some people, this will mean taking care of kids and helping them do their schooling, which allows for no downtime at all.

Even if you are not offered a furlough scheme, you can ask to be furloughed if you meet certain condition but remember that your employer does not have to agree. You can ask to be furloughed if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

Your employer may turn down your request, but you can ask for an appeal on their decision.

Remember – your employer should never ask you to do any work while you are furloughed (until 1 August, when they can ask you to work a set number of part-time hours). This includes voluntary work or any tasks that will earn them money. They can, however, ask you to do training, including online courses. If they do ask you to work, they are committing tax fraud, which is a criminal offence, and you could report them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

How long does furlough last?

While the initial Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was set to end in July, on 12 May the Chancellor announced that it would continue for an additional four months.[iii] It will now last until 31 October 2020, with new flexibility measures put in place beginning in August. As of the start of August, employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis to allow for a gradual return to normal.

The government will continue to help businesses pay their employees, topping up these part-time wages (funded by the employer) to 80% of the employee’s regular full-time salary, up to £2,500 each month.


Payment during furlough

By now you are probably wondering – how do I get paid during furlough? It is easier than you probably think.[iv] You are paid by your employer as usual and continue to accrue holiday leave. As of the beginning of August, your employer will be able to ask you to come back to work part-time.

Can I get another job during furlough?

If you are keen to earn some extra money, you might wonder – can furloughed employees get another job? The answer is yes – if your employer doesn’t mind you taking on another job.[v] After all, you are still employed by your place of work, so getting another job could mean that you are in breach of contract.

If they don’t mind you taking on a side hustle (make sure you get this in writing), you could consider making deliveries for takeaways, stocking shelves at grocery stores, or picking fruit and vegetables. If you don’t need the additional income, you could consider volunteering in your community, which is much needed at this time.

Can I collect unemployment benefits if I am furloughed?

If being on furlough reduces your income, you might be able to apply for Universal Credit.[vi] Your furlough earnings will be assessed like any other earnings and will therefore affect the amount of money you receive from Universal Credit. If your contract was for 16 hours or fewer before being placed on furlough, you might be eligible to apply for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Your Universal Credit allowance will not affect your employer.

Make the most of it, what you can do during furlough

If you’ve been spending any time on social media (and let’s face it, we all have) you’ve probably seen loads of #quarantinehobbies. Whether it’s making sourdough starter from scratch, baking banana bread, or remodelling every room in the house, it seems that everyone is busy with new hobbies! Do you have a passion that you’ve never had time to indulge? Whether it be gardening, surfing, yoga, or wine tasting, now is the time to get serious about your hobbies.

Maybe you have been thinking about improving your skill set, learning a new trade, or just expanding your mind? Being furloughed is the perfect time for education. Of course, in-class lessons and courses aren’t practical amidst the pandemic. Thankfully, you can engage in a range of home learning courses from the comfort and safety of your own home. Make the most of this time and learn all about a new subject or gain a new skill.

Here are some of the most common quarantine hobbies:

Have you been making the most of your time on furlough?

Final thoughts

While the Covid-19 pandemic has not been easy on anyone, hopefully the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will ease most of your financial troubles.

Reference list

Bernal, N. (2020). The UK’s coronavirus furlough scheme, explained by experts. [online] Wired UK. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

Canocchi, C. (2020). I’ve been furloughed: What does it mean? [online] This is Money. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

Cavanagh, N., Knapman, H. and Benwell, S. (2020). Can you get another job while on furlough during coronavirus? [online] The Sun. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

Citizen’s Advice (2020). Coronavirus – being furloughed if you can’t work. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

Department for Work and Benefits (2020). Furlough. [online] Understanding Universal Credit. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020]. (2020). Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

Lindsay, D. (2020). Martin Lewis offers advice to zero hour contract workers on being paid. [online] Metro. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].

New York Magazine Editors (2020). The Best New Hobbies to Try During Quarantine (That We’ve Written About). [online] The Strategist. Available at: [Accessed 19 July. 2020].