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What's next after A-levels?

What's next after A-levels?University isn't the only option after your A-levels. Find out where else your results can take you.

Whatever option you choose, make sure you've done your research: you don't want to set out on a career only to discover you're missing a vital qualification, or pick a university course that doesn't get you where you want to go.

Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship combines work and learning, so you'll be studying for a qualification while developing real-world experience and earning a wage.

Although apprenticeships are available at 16, there are even more opportunities if you've taken 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. Higher apprenticeships are available in areas like accounting, engineering, management and providing financial advice.

Find out more about apprenticeships.

Degrees

A-levels are often viewed simply as preparation for university, and while that's not the case, there is a good reason behind it since they're the standard qualification used for university offers.

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. A degree is also the main route into doing academic research.

Find out more about choosing a course and applying to university.

Other university courses

You don't have to do a full degree to go to university: there are a variety of shorter courses available, usually in work-related areas like nursing or hospitality. These include:

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. However, the range of subjects available is smaller than at degree level.

Getting 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. If you have a part-time job while you study, you might be able to go full-time and move up the organization after you finish your A-levels.

If you start work at 16, you'll need to be in training or education part-time until you are 18. This will normally be related to your work and could be arranged by your employer.

Find out more about jobhunting.

Working 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. However, you will need to stay in education or training in some form until you are 18. Look at our Starting a Business section for more information on how to make your business a success.