Higher education qualifications are a great way to expand your career prospects, develop your skills and broaden your knowledge in your favourite subjects.
When it comes to choosing the right qualifications, however, it can be hard to know which ones to choose and which are worth doing. Now you can find out all about HNCs and HNDs, what they are, what they entail, and why you should consider studying one.
What are HNDs and HNCs?
Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Higher National Certificates are high education qualifications that are at a higher level than A Levels but a lower level than a completed Bachelor’s degree. They are often taken by school leavers who have completed further study (e.g., GCSEs, A Levels, or a BTEC) and want to study a specific subject area for their chosen career path.
An HNC takes one year to complete full-time (2 years part-time) and is the equivalent to the first year of university, being a Level 4 qualification. An HND takes two years to complete full-time (4 years part-time) and is equivalent to the first two years of an undergraduate degree, as the first year is a level 4 and the second year is a level 5 qualification. Therefore upon completion, a person with an HND has a Level 5 qualification.
Both of these courses primarily consist of practical tasks and assignments and are targeted toward a lead to a particular career. They aim to develop practical skills which are required for specific careers, so students can often go straight into work following their HND or HNC.
Some of the most popular HND and HNC courses include:
Is it the same as a degree
HNCs and HNDs are higher education qualifications with modules, like a foundation degree or an honours degree, but are more focused on practical learning for a specific career.
They are the same level qualification (4 and 5) as the first one (HNC) or two (HND) years of a degree programme, meaning that the depth of study is similar. However, they are shorter than a degree and more targeted towards a career.
Why should I do an HND or HNC?
There are lots of reasons why HND or HNC could be the perfect choice for you. Take a look at some of the ways in which it could help you move forward in your career.
An alternative to university
Studying for an undergraduate degree can be a great way to broaden your depth of knowledge, but it is not the only place where you can continue your education and progress in your career.
For those who know what career they want to do or want a more vocational course, an HNC or HND is a great alternative.
These shorter, more targeted courses can allow you to learn the knowledge and skills you need for the career you want without having to spend three years on a broader degree course.
Hit the ground running
HNCs or HNDs are ideal for those who want to kickstart their career within one or two years. For many careers, an HNC or HND is a fast route that employers value just as much, if not more than degree courses, due to them being vocational qualifications and many students gaining work experience during their studies.
As these are practical courses, employers also know that candidates with HNC and HND qualifications have demonstrated practical skills essential to their chosen career. They are also a great way to get into higher education if you do not have the entry requirements or UCAS points that many university degree courses require. Rather than 3 A Levels, an HND often requires at least 1 A Level or a practical qualification such as a BTEC.
Free up time to find employment
HND and HNC courses are ideal for those wanting to jump into a career straight away, and they can allow you to find employment easily too. After just one year or two years, you will have a qualification, and due to your practical experience, you might already be familiar with specific employers through your studies.
As HND and HNC courses are targeted toward work-based skills, they will likely be familiar with local employers, with the course itself designed around the key skills needed for that career. Discussing employment with tutors and reaching out to employers during your course is also a great idea.
Many employers highly value HND and HNC students, and especially if studying part-time or through distance learning, it could be a great way to work alongside your studies and gain more skills, build your career and gain extra income.
Manage your own schedule
There are many ways you can go about studying your HND or HNC, including flexible online and part-time options. You can study virtually, which saves time and money on computing and can fit flexibly around your current schedule.
Online courses are ideal for those who have other commitments, and you can also study part-time over two (for an HNC) or three (for an HND) years.
What job opportunities could it bring me?
Whether you want to work in agriculture, be an IT technician or kickstart your career in health and social care, there are plenty of job opportunities for those who study for an HND or HNC. The practical skills developed are career based, meaning that unlike specific job training, they apply to your career no matter who your employer is, and unlike a degree course, they are specifically designed to help you excel practically in that career.
For example, say you want to study to be a veterinary nurse through an HND, you gain the practical skills to help patients and the confidence to work in a veterinary practice through your course. You can then jump into your career after you complete your qualification, whether you want to work in a local veterinary surgery or one further afield.
Studying an HNC or HND is not an easy way to get a higher education qualification, but rather it is a great way for those who want a vocational career to gain the skills they need.
These flexible, practical courses are highly accessible and favoured by many employers due to their practical nature.