Are you a recruiter?
Depending on the career you choose, you will be required to have certain qualifications under your belt. Here we review the most popular career choices and the requirements for job applications within those sectors.
Accountants can specialise in three different types of accountancy – management accounting, financial accounting and tax accounting – each requiring a high level of numeracy and sound analytical skills. You do not need a degree to do accountancy, but in some areas, it is desirable. Furthermore, you do not need to have taken specific BTECs or A-levels, though maths and economics would be an advantage. There are a range of different qualifications you can take to become an accountant and the AAT qualification is the minimal level required for most kinds of accountancy. You can then choose to take higher level qualifications such as the ACA, ACCA or CIMA, which will enable you to become a chartered accountant.
You do not need specific qualifications to work in admin, although you will usually be expected to have GCSEs above a grade C in maths and English. Admin assistants deal with everything from organising meetings to filing paperwork, so they are required to have excellent IT and communication skills. Some employers will even ask candidates to complete a typing test before they are taken on. If you are considering a role as an admin assistant, you could take a course in business administration at your local college to help prepare you for the job.
There are various roles available within the banking industry, from bankers to bank managers. Bank managers are responsible for increasing sales of financial products and managing a team of people. As they deal with both people and money on a daily basis, they are expected to have good social skills, as well as a high level of numeracy. There are a number of ways you can become a bank manager, from working your way up to completing an apprenticeship in bank management. Alternatively, you could join a graduate scheme, but you would need to have already completed a degree in business, economics, finance, management or marketing (in which case, university requirements are usually five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and science, plus three A-levels or an equivalent level 3 qualification).
Most people who want to work in catering harbour dreams of running their own kitchen one day, which will not happen overnight. These are different kinds of chefs with varying responsibilities, and it really is a case of starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top. There are no specific requirements in training to become a chef, but some level of catering qualification is highly desirable. Local colleges offer courses in catering and hospitality, providing useful skills and knowledge prior to finding work, and it may even be possible to enrol on an apprenticeship scheme.
The teaching profession looks for the highest quality candidates, so you will need to meet certain requirements before you can be accepted for a training programme. For postgraduate teacher training programmes, you will need to hold an undergraduate degree or a recognised equivalent qualification. You will need to have achieved a standard equivalent to grade C or above in GCSE English and mathematics, and in some cases, a grade C or above in GCSE science. If you have failed to achieve the required GCSEs, there is the option to study at home, or through local colleges and organisations such as the NEC. If you are unable to get a place on a postgraduate course but wish to explore a teaching career, you may be able to apply for a teaching assistant or learning support role.
Energy engineers help to research, design and construct renewable-power generation plants, requiring them to have a knowledge of science and technology, mathematics and analytical thinking skills, as well as excellent verbal communication skills. To become an energy engineer, you will need a degree in an engineering or scientific subject. Some employers may also expect you to have a relevant postgraduate qualification.
As well as a passion for the subject, aspiring engineers need the relevant qualifications and industry experience. Studying maths and physics at A-level is often essential, while further maths and design technology are also useful choices. Engineering degrees vary in terms of entry requirements, but the best institutions will always ask for top marks. For instance, three A* grades in physics, maths and further maths. A degree in an engineering or a technology-related subject is usually necessary to work in this sector, and students of non-engineering subjects may be required to complete a conversion course or professional qualification before working in this field. While postgraduate study is not essential, masters degrees can deepen your knowledge and help forge industry connections, which may be useful in the long run. You could also consider joining a professional body to gain access to networking opportunities, training events, discussion forums and the latest industry news.
Professional finance qualifications can open up a range of employment opportunities. If you choose a career in finance, you will almost certainly need at least one professional qualification to progress. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has developed the Level 3 Certificate in Financial Services, which allows you to go down one of two routes – life and pensions or general financial services – while the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) also has various pathways for those working in financial services. These courses have been developed in conjunction with the industry and are considered the benchmark for all employees at major banks and financial organisations. Many finance graduate schemes offered by leading employers also give graduates the opportunity to achieve a professional banking qualification as part of the programme.
From managing a restaurant to organising catered events, there are a range of hospitality careers available. Although experience counts when it comes to a career in this sector, you are expected to have the right hospitality qualifications and undertake the required training as you move up the career ladder. Most jobs will ask you to complete a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in hospitality, which is a work-based way of learning carried out at a college, school or workplace. Each NVQ level involves a range of on-the-job tasks and activities that are designed to test you on your ability to do a job effectively. Higher education courses and hospitality management degrees will enable you to progress to senior positions, while apprenticeships offer a great way to kickstart your career.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to work in leisure and tourism, but gaining a relevant qualification will prove your commitment to recruiters. The entry requirements to study this popular subject are surprisingly low – there are no specific subjects required by universities, although business, geography and any language would be a bonus. You would need anything from CDD or BBC in order to undertake a degree, and vocational courses may be accepted as an alternative to A-levels by some providers. The skills acquired during your degree will make you an attractive candidate to employers, eventually enabling you to move on to management positions. If you’d prefer to combine work and study whilst earning a salary, an apprenticeship could be the best route.
No qualifications are required for a starting position in retail, but employers may ask for GCSEs in English and maths. Retail careers span a variety of roles, from the shop floor or showroom, to the head office and warehouse. If you are considering a position as a retail manager, you could begin working as a sales assistant and seek promotion, or you could take part in a graduate management scheme (for which, you would need a degree). To get on a degree course, you usually need at least two A-levels or equivalent, as well as five GCSES (A-C) including maths and English. Alternatively, you may be able to start work as a retail assistant through an apprenticeship scheme and work your way up from there.
In order to work in sales, you need the ability to sell, have strong customer service skills, be determined, and be able to work well with other people. Sales managers organise, coach and lead a team to work towards agreed sales targets. They therefore need to have proven experience in sales, with a good record of achieving targets. Once you reach management level, most employers would consider your sales and management experience, market knowledge and track record to be more important than your academic qualifications. For some sales jobs, however, employers may prefer you to have a degree or HND. Alternatively, you may wish to back up your experience and develop your management skills by studying towards a relevant Level 4 professional qualification such as a Level 4 Award in Managing Responsible Selling, Managing a Sales Team, Finance for Sales Managers or Operational Sales Planning.
To become a social worker, you will need to study a three-year undergraduate degree or a two-year postgraduate degree in social work that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You therefore need to have at least five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and science, along with two A-levels (relevant subjects include psychology, sociology and law), to be considered for a degree course. In addition, a Level 3 qualification in health and social care would be relevant for this kind of work.