BTECs are often seen as the poor cousin of A-Levels but I’m not really sure why. BTECs can carry equivalent UCAS points to A-Levels and employers don’t seem to mind which type of qualification you have, so it’s a shame that BTECs don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Many people see BTECs as simply a first rung on the career ladder – true, they are vocational alternative to A-Levels, but they open a lot more doors than might be first imagined, as my experience showed.
Why I Took a BTEC
My BTEC was in Uniformed Public Services. It’s an unusual sounding course but one that provides training and a qualification for anybody who wants to work in the Police, Fire Service, RAF, Army or Navy.
I had always wanted to work in the police force – I grew up in an area where there was quite a high level of crime and wanted to join the force, to serve in the local community. But this plan got derailed when I left college – at the height of the recession – and the police were cutting jobs not creating them. So I took an apprenticeship in business administration and worked in the offices of local businesses, supporting their work.
It was not what I wanted to be doing long-term, so when the job market picked up I enrolled on a specialised BTEC, which seemed perfect for getting my dream career back on track. I suppose this is a good thing about BTECs – there are some really specific ones out there so if you know where your passions lie it can be a good option to look at.
As a BTEC student I met other people who, like me, wanted hands-on training, to learn on the job – for example we got to work on the Olympics security operation, something that an A-Level student could only dream of.
After My BTEC…
I passed my BTEC, and at this point could have gone into a low-level role in the force but I enjoyed my studies so much that I just wanted to keep on going.
I enrolled on a
course in criminology at the University of Bedfordshire, which itself had a huge practical learning element. We visited prisons, the Crown Court, and also the Houses of Parliament, giving me more and more insight into what the job of a police officer might entail.
I am currently thinking about applying to be a Special Constable and think my application will be stronger for all of this practical experience I now have under my belt. But with my BTEC, my degree, and my business experience, I could go onto any number of jobs, in the criminal justice sector and beyond.
My BTEC Advice
So, if anybody says BTECs limit your options I would say they’re quite wrong. If anybody says BTECs define your career, again, I say they’re wrong.
When you get your BTEC grades, think broadly about university courses that might in the long-term better meet your aspirations. Getting a job that you love is a long game, so taking a breath and thinking about where your BTEC can take you is a good thing to do. If it worked for me, it could work for you!
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