What are my options after A-levels?

It's important to do your research to ensure you make the right decision after A-levels. Picture: Ge

It's important to do your research to ensure you make the right decision after A-levels. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whatever route you choose to take after A-levels, the most important aspect is doing your research to ensure you’re making the right decision.

Whether it is based on your preferred career choice or if you're still unsure about your career, you need to make a decision that leaves the most options open for you.

Here are some of the options available after A-levels:


Apprenticeships enable you to start working and earn a decent wage while you learn key skills and gain the qualifications that future employers want.

If you have A-levels, you'll be able to apply for Higher Apprenticeships, which offer more advanced qualifications such as Foundation Degrees, Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and will usually pay better than lower-level apprenticeships.

The range of occupations on offer for apprentices is wide-ranging and some of the fastest growing areas have been in IT, accountancy, childcare, health and retail.

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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.

Other higher education courses

There are a variety of shorter courses available, usually in work-related areas like nursing or hospitality. These include: HNCs and Certificates of Higher Education (CertHEs), which are equivalent to the first year of a degree course.

There is also foundation degrees, HNDs and Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHEs), which are equivalent to the first two years of a degree course.

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.

Get 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. Education and training are still available later if you decide they will benefit you.

Work 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.

Create a business plan you can stick to and try to get funding for your idea. You could get funding from all kinds of people and organisations, including Prince's Trust and Jobcentre Plus.


With the job market becoming more competitive, the more you enhance your CV, the better. Volunteering is an excellent way to do this, as well as improve your skills and learn about what areas of work you like.

Some of the ways you can volunteer are caring for animals and wildlife, mentoring and befriending a young person, working outdoors to improve the environment, working on local community projects, with children in schools, on sports projects and helping charities.

Gap year abroad

It's a good time to take time out after A-levels, whether it's to earn some money for your studies, get work experience, travel the world or volunteer.

If you want to go to university, you can still apply before your gap year and take 'deferred entry', which means you have an offer but it's postponed for a year.

Gap years can give you unrivalled experienced on your CV and make you better prepared for university academically and socially.

Find out more about your options after A-levels at ucas.com/what-are-my-options.