Thanks to the internet, it’s now possible to learn an incredible variety of skills without paying a penny. Whether you want to develop your photography skills, learn how to code or explore the world of digital marketing, you’ll find a free course that will help.
But there’s a problem with free courses. Many of them are unaccredited and unregulated, which means that you won’t receive a formal qualification and that your shiny new skills won’t be recognised by employers.
Want to develop your career? Read on as we explore six reasons why accredited courses get the best results.
What is an Accredited Course?
Accredited courses are simply courses that have been approved by a professional body. For example, many marketing courses are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing or the Institute of Sales Management, whereas most degrees in architecture receive their course accreditation from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Keep reading for our list of reasons why accredited courses matter.
1. They count towards professional qualifications
Professional qualifications relate to a specific industry or career path. They provide vocational training which develops the skills and knowledge required to impress employers. In some cases, they also lead to chartered status.
As well as being approved by a professional body, accredited courses are often aligned with the body’s own qualifications, which sometimes results in an exemption from professional exams. For example, if you graduate with an accountancy degree that is accredited by the ACCA, you’ll be exempt from sitting at least one of the exams required to become a qualified accountant.
2. They enable you to join professional bodies
You’ll usually need an accredited qualification to become a member of a professional body, although student memberships are sometimes available. Becoming a full member adds to your credibility within your chosen profession, as it shows you have reached a particular level of expertise. It also includes a variety of benefits. Here are some examples.
Chartered Management Institute
The Chartered Institute for IT
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development
3. Some professions only accept accredited courses
If your chosen industry requires a particular professional qualification, this has to be properly accredited. For example, once they’ve finished their A levels, aspiring engineers need to apply for a degree that has been accredited by a professional engineering institution, as this is an important part of the requirements for professional registration. Graduating from an accredited course also makes the process of applying for professional registration more straightforward.
Keen to become an architect? The fastest route is to apply for an undergraduate course which has been validated by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA). Once you’ve graduated, you’ll undertake a short period of work experience before joining a RIBA validated postgraduate course in architecture.
If your heart is set on a career in medicine, you’ll need to gain a place at a medical school whose degrees are accepted by the UK General Medical Council (GMC), as they set the standards for medical education in the UK.
4. You’ll gain access to better jobs and higher salaries
Having an accredited professional qualification under your belt can have a very positive impact on your earnings. According to the Chartered Institute for Management, their average member earns 10% more than non-members without a professional qualification. Accreditation also boosts the starting salaries of qualified entry-level HR assistants, who earn £10,000 more than their unqualified counterparts.
Of course, career development isn’t all about making more money. Studying an accredited course can also lead to a more fulfilling job with extra responsibilities. For example, graduating with a psychology degree that is accredited by the British Psychological Society, will make you eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership. You’ll need this to gain a place on the training programmes and postgraduate courses required to become a fully Chartered Psychologist.
Once you’ve started working in your ideal role, obtaining further accredited qualifications will enable you to keep progressing. As you move through the professional development levels on offer, you’ll open doors to exciting new opportunities
5. Accredited courses are regulated
Courses are regulated to ensure that students receive top quality teaching that relates to the real workplace. The UK has four regulators:
Regulators are responsible for recognising both qualifications and awarding bodies. They guarantee that everyone who takes a particular course gains the same level of knowledge, skills and professional experience.
While some professional membership bodies offer their own qualifications, many are also opting to become recognised awarding bodies. This enables them to feature their regulator’s logo on their certificates and marketing materials, making them even more attractive to aspiring students.
Currently, 18 professional bodies are recognised as awarding bodies. These include:
6. They help you demonstrate your knowledge
Gaining accredited qualifications allows you to demonstrate your experience, your industry knowledge and your ability to put that knowledge into practice. It’s also a great way to convince employers that you’re committed to your career and willing to undertake further learning.
Because employers value accredited qualifications, they’ll often partner with course providers and professional bodies. For example, the ACCA works with 7,400 approved employers and 80 accounting partnerships worldwide. Some architecture companies also recruit specifically from accredited degree programmes.
But it’s not all about employers. Completing an accredited qualification will boost your self-confidence and give you a sense of professional credibility This will enable you to pursue the career path you really want.
Are you thinking about the future and wondering where your career could take you? Whether you’re considering a career in sales or surveying, an accredited course will give you the high-quality training and recognition you need to achieve your ambitions. Explore our great range of accredited courses today and take the first step towards your dream job!