The Higher National Certificate (HNC) qualification is a level 4 qualification equivalent to the first year of a full honors degree.
This is the default qualification for those looking to start in higher education and can usually be obtained in either one year of study or two to four years part-time.
The HNC consists of 12-15 credits which are divided into mandatory and optional units that count towards your final grade.
Depending on how successful you are in your studies, your HNC qualification could lead directly onto the second year of an honors degree course, allowing you to bypass the first year altogether.
HNCs often provide students with an excellent platform to progress onto higher qualifications such as a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a full-time study bachelor’s degree.
The advantage of having this type of qualification, compared to other types such as NVQs or BTECs, is that many universities across the UK recognise it as part of their entry requirements so it could help students obtain entry onto their desired undergraduate list of courses with good results.
Alternatively, the skills and knowledge gained from completing an HNC can lead to fabulous job opportunities within a wide range of sectors, ranging from business and IT to engineering and health care.
Why Choose an HNC Course?
Studying an HNC provides a great opportunity for many individuals to access higher education without the pressures of enrolling in a full university degree.
This is particularly attractive to those who may not yet be certain about what career options they want to take, as it allows them to explore their chosen subject in depth before committing to a longer-term course of study at University.
With the added expertise that comes from completing an advanced-level certification such as this, many employers view it favorably, and therefore it can open up upcoming opportunities in various lines of work. HNC exams are assessed through projects, assignments, and practical tasks that students complete throughout their course.
Moreover, despite its affiliation with university courses, studying an HNC does not require any long-term financial commitment; tuition fees are often much lower than those charged by universities for full degrees so it provides a viable option for budget-conscious students.
Furthermore, with shorter time frames and more relaxed entry requirements than degree programmes typically endure, the logistics also make HNCs desirable especially if there are work or other commitments which disrupt during a longer course period.
HNC qualifications are highly sought after by professional bodies and employer organisations.
Depending on your specific course, you may qualify for many different courses in engineering including laboratory technician, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Energy Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Process Engineering, Civil Engineering technician or Software Development Engineer.
Additionally, an HNC qualification can lead to roles within project management and systems analysis such as process improvement advisor, finance manager or software developer.
All of these positions would benefit from the technical eye for detail and professionality that comes with having a higher and degree apprenticeships under your belt. With employers increasingly recognising the rigor and added value that HNC degree qualifications provide, these respectable career goals are worth exploring if you’re looking to further develop the practical skills employers are seeking for.