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College of Contract Management United Kingdom
College of Contract Management
United Kingdom

The BTEC National Diploma | What Are They and What Are Their Benefits?


The BTEC National Diploma | What Are They and What Are Their Benefits?


BTEC National Diplomas usually start as a level 3 equivalent qualification. They are similar to A Levels. Furthermore, individuals usually take these qualifications at college instead of or in conjunction with A Levels. If you want to know what BTEC means, it stands for the Business and Technology Education Council.

Moreover, BTECs are vocational courses which allow you to learn in an active way. For example, there are many cooking and construction-related BTECs where the student is able to spend lots of their time being hands-on. Individuals learning in this way get to understand what it would be like for them if they were to choose that pathway for their long term career.

There are many different types as well as benefits of the BTEC National Diploma. This article will discuss these and how they can help individuals make a step in the right direction for their career.


What Are the Types of BTEC National Diploma?


The National Diploma stands at level 3, it is offered in a wide range of different subject areas. Those areas include:

  • Art
  • Animal Management
  • Science
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Business
  • Children’s Care
  • Construction
  • Computing
  • Hospitality
  • Engineering
  • Music
  • Sports

There are many more subject areas and usually relate closely to a particular job route. This is to allow a smooth transition from learning into professional working.

BTEC National Diplomas are the equivalent to 2 A-Levels. There are also National Extended Diplomas which are equivalent to 3 A-Levels. The BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate is equivalent to one A-level.

There are also lower and higher levels, but these are not called BTEC Nationals. The Higher National Diploma is a level 5 qualification and is equivalent to the first 2 years of university. A BTEC first is at level 2.



What is the Difference Between a BTEC National Diploma and A-Levels?


BTECs Are Work-Based, A-Levels Are Academic 


The biggest difference between BTECs and A-levels is the way that they are taught and the ways that you are assessed. With A-levels, there are often exams, lots of reading and a wealth of practice assessments. With BTECs individuals normally have less reading and more practical learning as well as no exams. They often are assessed by coursework or observation.


BTECs Focus on Real Life, A-levels Do Not


Due to the practical learning that BTECs focus on, most of the learning will be close to real life. I will use an example to illustrate this. If an individual takes an A-level in English or Law, they usually learn the academic side to the subjects. They read and write assignments and learn how to pass their exams. However, they fail to understand the real-life working environment of someone that works within English or Law because they lack that practical experience.


BTECs Follow a Specific Career Path and A-levels Offer a Broad Understanding


With most BTECs, they follow a specific career route and give you the experience and the knowledge to start the job that you would like. Employers often want those who have done BTECs because they have the experience that A-levels do not offer.

A-levels on the other hand allow individuals to gain in-depth knowledge about a topic which can lead them to lots of different careers in that area. Many individuals decide to take these if they are not sure on their particular career route or would like to have many different options for roles that they can go into.

In short, the job opportunities for those who have completed BTECs are plenty some but in a narrow area. A-level job opportunities are also high but they can be much more diverse.



What Are the Benefits of a BTEC National Diploma?



There are also many different benefits to the BTEC National Diploma which should be discussed in this article. Some of these benefits may be the answer you are looking for to decide whether you should choose a National Diploma.


Allow Individuals to Enter an Industry Quickly


One of the fantastic things about BTEC Nationals is that they prepare students to enter a job as they have industry experience. It also allows students to find out what kind of things they would like to do as a full-time career. When some students take academic courses they are not aware of how that topic actually operates in the real world. For example, someone who learns English without any experience of what they could do for a career in English would be less likely to feel confident about their future.


Allow Individuals to Gain Entry to Higher Education 


The BTEC National Diploma is hugely popular before individuals attend university. Highly reputable Universities, including Russell groups, accept BTECs which shows they are respected on the same level as A-levels. There has, at times, been discussions about how A-levels are more advanced than BTECs but this suggests this is not true, particularly with their reputability. BTECs are fairly new and since their introduction, they have become hugely popular and respected by many higher education facilities.


They Involve Alternative Methods of Learning


With many academic courses, there are exams and coursework. With BTECs there are usually more practical assessments. Individuals may be assessed on their physical work. For example, if someone was doing an engineering course, they are likely to be assessed on observing their performance. Many people dislike the high-pressure nature of exams and work best in other environments. This means that they have a different opportunity to demonstrate their high level of skills. Having this availability of diverse assessment tools allows for an increased chance of diversity as well as equal opportunities for all.

Furthermore, A-levels have been considered to teach individuals to take exams and not actually teach them practical life and work skills. Taking exams can be just a memory test and test your ability on how well you can retain information. This kind of assessment cannot be optimal for every profession.




Career Routes After a BTEC National Diploma 


A very common subject area that many people take BTECs in, is construction. For those that are a construction enquirer, you may want to know about the career route. Starting at a Level 3 in a Construction related area, you could choose to branch into many different construction areas.

Here at the College of Contract Management, we offer courses to help people progress their construction career. Below are just a few of the different areas you can take courses in.

  • Site Management
  • Site Supervisory
  • Project Management
  • Forensic Schedule Analysis
  • Structural Engineering
  • Cost Engineering

These are offered at varying levels and can support you to become a part of a membership or allow you to get your dream job.


As discussed above, there are many other types of BTEC National Diploma. It is also popular to progress into hospitality. Individuals can find jobs in restaurants, cafes, or as staff for events. They can then work their way up into expensive restaurants or serve very important people.

A BTEC National in Business is one of the most popular subjects and can open the door to many different business ventures. Many individuals decide to take the highly popular HND in Business after their National.



The Next Step in Education 



After an individual has completed the BTEC National, they can complete a Higher National Diploma (HND). This is the equivalent to the first 2 years of a university degree in terms of its level. The College of Contract Management offers many different HNDs. Those include Business Management, Accounting and Finance, Business Law, HR and Marketing. Additionally, we have other HNDs, you can visit our courses or read more about what an HND is in the article called “HND Meaning UK“. Furthermore, individuals are able to complete their final year at university for the HND which will amount to a full UK degree.

Individuals can also go straight to University if they wish with the BTEC National. This will give individuals a number of UCAS points needed to get accepted into University.

However, these are not the only steps from a BTEC National. On their own, they are highly valuable qualifications that can lead to highly advanced roles. Due to the practical basis of learning, employers favour employing those who have already had experience and would know what the job will be like. There is more of a risk of employing those who have a lack of practical experience. In addition, those who have practical experience are less likely to need as much company training before they begin.



Final Thoughts


In this article, we discussed what a BTEC National Diploma is, the differences between an A-level, the benefits, and the career routes after the diploma. For those that are considering which one they should take, I hope that this article has helped you to decide and weigh up your options.

In short, the BTEC National is practical-based and involves a lot of active working, working by doing. A-levels on the other hand are very academic. Which is better will depend on the person and their preferences. Individuals should take into account how they like to learn and be assessed as well as which career they are drawn to the most. Those who have a fairly solid idea of which career they want to progress into would benefit from taking a BTEC in that area.

Additionally, BTECs have been shown to make great progressions in many students careers and many individuals prefer the nature of the assessments and learning.