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Qualifications explained

With so many different qualification types and levels on offer, it can be hard to keep track of what each one means, which one is right for you, and what it could help you achieve.

To clear things up, we've put together an overview of the various types of qualifications, and what each qualification type on Reed Courses actually means:

How are courses categorised on Reed Courses?

Reed Courses uses the following categories to group courses advertised on the site:

Here's a quick rundown of what each category means:

Skills-based courses

Skills-based courses can be separated into three sub-categories. These include:

1. No formal qualification

A course with no formal qualification allows students to learn something new, or develop their existing skills in a particular area, whether it's for professional or personal development.

2. Endorsed

An endorsed course is a skills based course that has been endorsed by an external organisation. These external organisations can be industry relevant, or sometimes, an awarding body may have their own endorsing scheme and cover a range of topics.

3. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CPD courses focus on providing continuing professional development in a certain field or area - which is usually measured through the amount of CPD points or hours awarded on completion of the course. All kinds of courses in a variety of topics can become CPD accredited if the correct accreditation process is followed.

Learn more about skills-based courses

Professional certifications

What are they?

A professional certification represents the industry standard when it comes to carrying out a task or job. They're available in a variety of subjects, and could qualify you in anything from accounting and project management to health & safety and HR.

Who offers them?

A private company (e.g. Microsoft) or professional body (e.g. CIMA) sets the benchmark of proficiency within their respective field. They're in charge of designing the exams and awarding the certifications, whilst course providers deliver the content needed to help students pass. Professional certifications are not government regulated, but their legitimacy and quality is well-known in their industry.

Why take one?

Studying for a professional certification allows you to gain or expand knowledge within a particular area - and prove your proficiency to employers. It could also be a great way to learn how to use a program or software (e.g. Adobe), and demonstrate your capabilities on your CV.

What can I use it for?

There are a number of professional certifications that are considered a prerequisite for a career, whether it's to break into the industry or progress upwards in the field. In addition to improving your career prospects, they could also enable you to earn a higher salary, and/or carry out further study.

View all professional certifications

Regulated qualifications

What are they?

A regulated qualification is a qualification that has been approved by a specialised government body. Each qualification will have an awarding body, which is responsible for ensuring consistent standards in how the qualification is delivered and assessed. Regulated qualifications in England are organised into the 9 levels of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), and can be vocational or academic. Examples include BTECs, NVQs, apprenticeships, and diplomas, as well as qualifications like AAT or CACHE.

Who offers them?

Regulated qualifications are offered by anything from schools and colleges, to businesses and course providers who specialise in a certain field. To achieve 'regulated' status, they must be officially regulated by a legitimate regulating body, such as Ofqual or UCAS, as well as an awarding body.

Why take one?

With a regulated qualification under your belt, you'll be able to prove you're qualified to a level that's recognised by the government - no matter what course or subject you choose. And with levels ranging from entry right through to advanced, there's something to suit everyone.

What can I use it for?

A regulated qualification is highly reputable, and the certificate you receive on completion of your course shows you've gained a qualification approved by both a UK regulating body and an awarding body. This is considered extremely valuable to employers, and will enable you to progress within a certain field of work.

View all regulated qualifications

University courses

What are they?

University courses provide you with an academic higher education qualification at level 5 or above. They start at foundation level (5) progressing up to undergraduate (6) and postgraduate (7 & 8) levels. Examples include foundation degrees, HNDs, undergraduate degrees, postgraduate diplomas, Master's degrees, and PhDs/doctorates. University courses are comparable to the levels stated in the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Who offers them?

University courses are offered by recognised universities and accredited higher learning institutions. You can view a list of recognised bodies.

Why take one?

Whether you want to study online or in a classroom or part-time or full-time, there'll be a university course to suit you. You can also choose from a range of subjects at all levels, enabling you to expand on your knowledge and boost your career prospects.

What can I use it for?

Many employers see a university degree as a prerequisite to carry out a particular role. You can also take a university course to gain advanced knowledge in a subject you're passionate about, or to acquire the skills you need to progress in your career. For example, those working in science or research based careers will be required to continually further their education through postgraduate study.

View all university qualifications