Options after A-levels

PUBLISHED: 11:48 17 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:10 17 August 2016

A degree is a popular option (Picture: Chris Ison/PA)

A degree is a popular option (Picture: Chris Ison/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

You’ve got your A-level results, but now what? There are a number of paths available to you after leaving sixth form or college.


Apprenticeships enable you to start working and earn a decent wage while you learn key skills and gain the qualifications that future employers want.

If you have A-levels, you’ll be able to apply for Higher Apprenticeships, which offer more advanced qualifications such as Foundation Degrees, HNCs and HNDs and will usually pay better than lower-level apprenticeships.


A degree will normally take three or four years of study, and will focus on a particular subject. Some, like law or medicine, are geared towards particular jobs, but others will still provide skills which will be useful for a wide range of careers.

Other higher education courses

There are a variety of shorter courses available, usually in work-related areas like nursing or hospitality. These include:

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Certificates of Higher Education (CertHEs), which are equivalent to the first year of a degree course.

Foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHEs), which are equivalent to the first two years of a degree course.

These courses have certain advantages over degrees: the entry requirements are usually lower, and you don’t have to commit to a full three years of study to get

a qualification. If you do well, you can usually ‘top up’ your qualification to a full degree by doing an extra year or two of study.

Work for yourself

If you have a skill or a business idea, you might decide to set up your own business rather than work for someone else. This isn’t an easy option, but it’s a rewarding one and gives you a lot of control over your career.

Create a business plan you can stick to, to get funding for your big idea. You could get funding from all kinds of people and organisations, such as the Prince’s Trust or even the JobCentre

Get a job

If you choose to go straight into work, your A-levels will be useful to show potential employers your skills and abilities. Make sure you put together a strong CV, and try to get work experience while you’re still at school or college.

Education and training are still available later if you decide they will benefit you.

Gap year

It’s a good time to take time out after A-levels, whether it’s to earn some money for your studies, get work experience, travel the world or volunteer for a worthy cause.

If you want to go to university, you can still apply before your gap year and take ‘deferred entry’, which means you have an offer but it’s postponed for a year.

Gap years can give you unrivalled experienced on your CV and make you better prepared for university academically and socially, as well as sometimes helping with applications.

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