The Common Myths of Technical Courses vs. A-Level: Is there really that much of a difference?

Blog: The Common Myths of Technical vs. A-Level – Is there really that much of a difference?

31 July 2021

When you’re considering what your next steps should be after school you are spoilt for choice. You can choose to study A-Levels, you can choose technical courses such as those offered at North Notts College, or you could pursue an apprenticeship and combine employment with studying towards industry-approved Standards.

We often hear that students believe that A-Levels are ‘better’ than technical courses. But how accurate is this?

Below we set the record straight on a few common beliefs regarding the technical courses vs. A-Levels debate:

Myth #1: “Technical Courses are easy”

Whilst A-Levels require studying across multiple subjects, technical courses solely focus on one subject. However, this doesn’t make technical courses any ‘easier’.

There are differences in how each is assessed. A-Levels are assessed at the end of the year, whilst technical courses, such as Health and Social Care and Engineering are continually assessed meaning a technical qualification is just as challenging and mentally-stimulating as A-Level subjects.

Myth #2: “A-Levels are better”

Yes, A-Levels are great – but they aren’t necessarily better. Which will suit you best depends on your aims, ambitions and how you learn best.

A-Levels are widely accepted as being ‘the route’ to university (more on that later), which means that generally you’ll spend more time on academic study – writing, reading and researching – to provide the basis for higher-level study at university.

Technical qualifications are, generally, more career-focused. They will equip you with the skills you need to be successful in a specific sector or industry. The way you learn will generally be more ‘hands-on’ and practical.

Many technical courses also involve work experience. This means you get the chance to work with professionals in the industry, gaining invaluable insight and experience in your future career, and really helping your CV to stand out.

Myth #3: “You can’t go on to get a degree”

You can!

Level 3 technical courses offer equivalent qualifications (and UCAS points) to those of A-Levels.

Level 3 courses provide remarkable ways to learn skills that you can apply to further education or a specific career path. In some cases, the access route to university study is more direct from a technical course, such as fine art. A-Level students may need to do a foundation course before getting onto a degree, whereas with a Level 3 in Art and Design, you’re straight in.

At North Notts College we offer a range of higher and degree-level courses in subjects including Early Childhood Studies, Specialist Make-up and Sport Science. If you want more choice, University Centre Rotherham offers a wide range of degree-level courses locally in subjects such as Art and Design, Computing and Performing Arts.

Myth #4: “It won’t look as good on my CV”

Again – not true!

More than ever, employers are looking for candidates that have experience as well as the qualification. As technical courses focus on a specific subject, you have the opportunity to work with industry professionals giving you a foot in the door and those all-important contacts.

You may find that a common struggle amongst A-Level and university students when completing their courses is that they have little to no meaningful work experience within their desired field.

At North Notts College we have excellent links with employers across a range of industries including Wilko’s, South Electrical and Ye Olde Bell, who value the practical experience our students bring to their business.


If you think a technical course is right for you, browse the vast variety we have to offer.

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