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Understanding your career options post-exam results

No matter the results on the paper, navigating your career options can be difficult. However, when the results are not what you expected this can become even more challenging. We’re here to help, look no further! This blog is your one stop guide to your career options post-exam results.

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Further education

Let’s start with further education, this includes any study undertaken after secondary school that is not part of an undergraduate or graduate degree. Further education courses range from basic English and Maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), and also includes 3 types of technical and applied qualifications for 16-19 year olds:

  • Level 3 tech levels to specialise in a specific technical job
  • Level 2 technical certificates help get employment or progress to another tech level
  • Applied general qualifications to continue general education at advanced level through applied learning

Further education courses

Higher education

Now that we have covered further education, what is higher education? Higher education is qualifications/courses usually studied at university, colleges or specialist institutions and are usually studied from 18+. Qualifications can include:

  • Diplomas
  • Bachelor degrees
  • Foundation degrees and foundation years
  • Higher technical qualifications
  • Degree level apprenticeships
  • Graduate apprenticeships

Explore your education and training choices


Degree level apprenticeships and graduate apprenticeships are part of a wider family of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships give you practical on the job learning whilst also achieving a qualification, they allow you to earn while you learn. These are different in England and Scotland so we have outlined each separately.


  • Intermediate apprenticeship (level 2)
  • Advanced apprenticeship (level 3)
  • Higher apprenticeship (level 4-6)
  • Degree apprenticeship (level 6-7)


  • Foundation apprenticeship (SCQF level 4-6)
  • Modern apprenticeship (SCQF level 5-12)
  • Graduate apprenticeship (SCQF level 8, 10 & 11)

If you are interested in finding out more about apprenticeships, you may find our blog ‘Apprenticeships: All your students need to know’ helpful.


Qualifications are often viewed as key to get into the world of work, and in some industries they are a requirement. However, in most cases skills outweigh the need for formal qualifications. Being able to demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge required to complete the tasks needed of an employee far outweighs qualifications for a lot of recruiters.

Training is a great way to build your skills and knowledge in an area, this could be specific to the career you’re interested in or around developing soft skills (e.g. communication, problem solving, leadership, time management, team working etc). Uptree’s careers learning programme will help build your skills and knowledge for the world of work.

When attending training make sure you get confirmation of completion, this could be a certificate or even an email from the training provider. Having this will provide you with evidence to add to your CV for future employers.


Another great way to build your transferable skills and give back to the community is through volunteering. This is unpaid work for a company, usually a charity, and looks really good on your CV.

You can become a volunteer at any age and some employers will even allow you time out of your working week to volunteer with another organisation. In England if you want to find out more about volunteering you can visit NVCO, in Scotland you can find more information at Volunteer Scotland.

Read our ambassador blog ‘Ambassador View: Benefits of Volunteering’ to find out more about examples of volunteering and the benefits it brings.


Yes, you can follow any of the above routes into employment but you can also go directly into the working world. Many organisations employ people into entry-level positions or on traineeships. These are routes designed to ease you into the workforce and provide you with the tools you need to progress within the orgaisation or sector.

Finally remember this is your career, your decision. Whichever path you choose, you can always change your mind. Many people change their career further down the road or go back and study at a later stage.

Many of our employer partners have live opportunities across the UK that you can apply for right now.

By Uptree
Published on: Thu 17 Aug 2023

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