What is an NVQ and how to get one

16 Aug 2023

August can be an anxious time if you’re waiting for AS and A-Level exam results. Making a decision about what to do next can be overwhelming and, if the exam results aren’t what you had hoped for, it can feel like there isn’t much to look forward to now that the long summer holidays are coming to an end  So, what else can get you where you want to be?

NVQ is short for National Vocational Qualification which means doing work-based learning to give you a qualification in a particular type of job role. NVQs are a flexible way to get a qualification since you can work and study at the same time, and there’s no exams to take, so you’re assessed on the job for how well you can demonstrate the skills and knowledge you have which makes you capable of working in that role.  

Covering a wide range of subjects, NVQs are designed to provide you with practical skills in your chosen or preferred career area. Each NVQ level involves a set of tasks and activities that test your abilities at that specific subject. 

Are there any NVQ study requirements?


Although there are no specific entry requirements to study an NVQ, you do need to be working or studying (either full-time or part-time).

NVQs do not have an age requirement, making them a great option for those who want a headstart on their chosen career, and those who are considering a career change.

Wondering if an NVQ is right for you? Watch our short video to see some of the benefits: 

How are NVQs assessed?

NVQs do not have any written exams. Instead, you are assessed on your ability to practically demonstrate the knowledge and skills learnt on the course. There are two main assessment methods:

Each course has a national occupational standard you need to meet. Courses are signed off as and when you meet those standards.

What is the highest NVQ level? 

There are seven NVQ levels, excluding an entry level NVQ course. They are:


What are the benefits of studying an NVQ? 

NVQs offer a very flexible way to gain qualifications while on the job. They follow a natural progression through the levels, allowing you to study to your desired knowledge level.

Other benefits:

How is an NVQ going to help you with your future? Watch this short video: 

NVQ subjects


NVQs are available in a wide range of subjects covering almost every sector. Some of the more popular NVQ courses include:


NVQ equivalents

NVQs are vocational qualifications, but they do have academic equivalents which are useful to know when applying for jobs or deciding how far you’d like to study.
The equivalents for each NVQ level are:

Looking to study an NVQ?

NVQs are a great way to kick-start your career, and are available through schools, colleges or workplaces. You can search for NVQ courses that are available on Find Courses or the UCAS career finder website but could also reach out to a local employer you’re interested in to talk to them about any NVQ or apprenticeship opportunities available, as well as applying for an NVQ course at your local college.

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