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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Higher education and your career

Your choice of career might be a key factor in deciding whether to go into higher education and which course to take. Look at the different options available, and focus on what you think is best for your future - whether it's a career in one of the traditional professions, or something a little different.

Higher education and your career prospects

Higher education develops qualities that are valued by employers, such as problem-solving and communication skills. Doing a higher education course could give you an edge in the job market: forecasts predict that half of positions that become vacant between 2004 and 2020 will be in areas of work most likely to demand graduates.

And on average, people with a higher education qualification tend to earn more over their working life than those without.

Exploring your career options

Higher education can open up new career options. So if you’re thinking of applying to university or college, now might be a good time to take another look at your career plans. There’s advice available if you need help making up your mind.

A higher education course offers a great grounding for what are often thought of as  traditional ‘professional’ careers - like science, medicine, law, business, finance, architecture, education or the public sector.

But it’s also worth thinking about where your qualification could take you in the future. For example, are there likely to be more opportunities in the ‘green’ or creative industries - or new types of manufacturing or digital technologies?

Higher education and the professions

A higher education qualification is necessary for some careers - such as medicine, dentistry, chartered engineering and architecture. For some professions, like law, you’ll need an additional postgraduate qualification before you can practise.

Getting advice from professional bodies

Typically, professional bodies play a part in regulating and representing the interests of the profession.

But many also offer information and advice on pursuing a professional career. Some run special programmes offering advice and encouragement to people from non-traditional backgrounds who want to get into the professions.

Choosing a course to suit your career plans

If you’ve got a particular career in mind, it’s worth considering a course that leads to a vocational qualification. They’re designed with a particular sector in mind, but like all higher education courses can help you develop transferable skills.

The variety of options on offer – including Foundation Degrees and flexible courses – means that it’s often possible to build up your qualification in stages.

See ‘Find a university or college course’ for advice on choosing a course, including information about the Stamford test - an online tool that helps you match your interests with higher education courses.

Don’t forget that there are often many ways to get into your chosen career. It’s worth looking at the full range of options – which may include Apprenticeships or other ways of learning for work.

Changing direction in your career through higher education

Higher education isn’t just for traditional ‘high flyers’ with lots of academic qualifications.

Whatever you’ve been doing in your working life, a higher education course could give you the skills and recognition you need to begin a new and rewarding career.

You won’t necessarily need traditional qualifications as a mature student, and if you do a course related to the line of work you’re in you may get credit for relevant work experience. There are lots of flexible study options to help you fit your course in with work commitments.

Finding out more about graduate careers

If you’re thinking about a particular course or area of study, you may want to:

  • explore the graduate job market in your chosen field
  • find out about salaries for particular jobs

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