Skip the debt: How to get qualified without going to university

Not sure university is right for you? Don’t worry, it’s not the only way to get qualified… 

As the cost of university continues to rise, people are seeking alternative routes that enable flexible learning and a faster way to get certified. Luckily, there are a number of online qualifications that’ll allow you to develop your skills, gain an industry-recognised certification, and ultimately stand out to employers – without even stepping foot in a classroom. 

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve highlighted a few of the best ways you can get qualified without going to university: 


Take a cyber security course

Looking to fight cyber crime? Step away from the classroom… 

If you want to land a role in cyber security, university isn’t the only option. There are also a number of cyber security courses that are industry recognised and highly valued by employers. 

These include CompTIA Security+, CISSP, CEH, and CISA – all of which offer diverse opportunities to gain essential cyber security skills, from foundational concepts to advanced techniques, penetration testing, risk management, and networking. 

And because there’s a course for every skill level, there’s bound to be one to suit you – even if you have zero experience in the field. 

Jobs you’ll qualify for: Security Analyst, Penetration Tester, Security Engineer, Security Consultant, Security Architect, Incident Responder, SOC Analyst, Threat Intelligence Analyst, Forensic Analyst.

View all cyber security qualifications

View all cyber security jobs


Take an accounting course

When it comes to pursuing a career in accounting, a degree certainly isn’t a necessity. 

Instead, the AAT qualification is what’s typically required for any aspiring accountant. Made up of four qualifications across three levels (Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4), AAT is the industry standard for accounting professionals.

You won’t need any experience to start studying at Level 2, and each course is designed to provide practical skills and knowledge that are relevant to real-world accounting roles. 

And if you want to become a chartered accountant? You can advance your knowledge and gain chartered status by progressing onto the ACCA, ACA or CIMA qualifications.

Jobs you’ll qualify for: Accounts Assistant, Accountant, Bookkeeper, Payroll Administrator, Accounts Payable Clerk, Accounts Technician, Credit Control Assistant, Tax Assistant, Financial Controller, Auditor. 

View all accounting qualifications

View all accounting jobs


Take a project management course

Always take the lead in group projects? You should take a project management course

Recognised qualifications such as PMP, CAPM, PRINCE2®, Certified ScrumMaster, and Six Sigma provide a great way to validate your skills and knowledge, teach you about different methodologies, and make you more attractive to employers. 

The course you choose will depend on the area of project management you want to focus on. PMP and CAPM, for example, offer comprehensive project management knowledge with a focus on process groups. On the other hand, PRINCE2® emphasises a structured approach to project management, while Certified Scrum Master focuses on Scrum processes and Agile software development teams. And, Six Sigma centres around the enhancement of operational processes. 

You’ll also be able to start studying at a level that suits you, with a range of beginner and advanced courses to choose from. 

Jobs you’ll qualify for: Project Manager, Portfolio Manager, Project Coordinator, Agile Coach, Scrum Master, Project Analyst, Product Owner, Change Manager, Risk Manager, Quality Assurance Manager. 

View all project management qualifications

View all project manager jobs


Take an HR course

A career in HR calls for many things; communication skills, patience, emotional intelligence, organisational skills, and more…but does it require a degree? 

In short, not always. Whilst a degree may be helpful, you can also gain industry specific skills by taking an online course. CIPD, for example, is a highly respected professional body for HR and people development, offering certifications that are well-recognised within the industry. 

By taking a CIPD course, you’ll learn the key skills needed to secure a job in HR, from understanding employment laws and employee relations, to recruitment, performance management, and learning and development.  

CIPD also caters to people at different points in their career, providing three qualification levels: Level 3, Level 5, and Level 7. As you progress through the levels, your career prospects will improve, with HR professionals who are qualified at Level 7 able to apply for Chartered status and earn in excess of £60,000 a year.   

Jobs you’ll qualify for: HR Officer, HR Advisor, HR Business Partner, Talent Acquisition Specialist, L&D Coordinator, HR Manager, HR Director, HR Trainer, Employee Relations Specialist, HR Data Analyst.  

View all HR qualifications

View all HR jobs


Take a coding course

In a technology driven world, the ability to code (or program) is becoming more important than ever. 

Whether you want to pursue a coding career, complement your current skill set, or simply explore a new way of thinking, studying coding equips you with valuable skills that can enhance your personal and professional life.

And with highly recognised courses available in everything from full-stack web development, front-end development, and back-end development, to mobile app development, machine learning, and blockchain, your opportunities are vast. 

Course content will vary depending on the type of development you want to pursue, but will typically cover core languages and frameworks such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, and Python.

Jobs you’ll qualify for: Front-End Developer, Back-End Developer, Full-Stack Developer, Web Developer, Programmer, Web Designer, App Developer, Web QA Tester, Mobile Developer, Email Developer. 

View all coding qualifications

View all coding jobs


Take a health & care course

If you’re looking to pursue a career in health & care, look no further. 

Vocational courses like health & social care NVQs/QCFs, RQFs, and CACHE qualifications provide a great route into the industry, are recognised by employers, and offer a practical, work-based approach to learning. 

Covering a wide range of topics – from learning disability nursing, end of life care, and adult social care, to understanding autism, mental health awareness, and childcare – you’ll have the opportunity to study and work in an area you’re passionate about. 

What’s more, these qualifications are available at a range of levels, allowing you to start at a level that matches your current skills, and progress to higher levels as you gain experience.

Jobs you’ll qualify for: Healthcare Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Youth Worker, Social Worker Assistant, Special Needs Assistant, Health & Social Care Coordinator, Nursery Manager, Support Worker, Care Coordinator.  

View all health & care qualifications

View all health & care jobs


Other alternatives to university 

Not sure if any of the above courses are right for you? 

Don’t panic. There are a number of other alternatives to university. From school leaver programmes, apprenticeships, and traineeships, to volunteer work, entry-level jobs, and self-employment, your post-school options are vast. 

Here’s our guide on what to do next if you’re not going to uni

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