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Career Advice for School Leavers

Finishing school inevitably leads you to ask yourself 'what next' or 'what career path should I take?' The answers to these questions are not only based on what path you want to take but also on what path you should take to suit your skills and fulfil your future career aspirations.

There are many career options available for school leavers, from going straight into work, starting an apprenticeship or continuing within an educational setting. The majority of 16 year olds however, will move forward to college to complete A Levels to gain more advanced qualifications. This isn't the right choice for everyone. To ensure that you are aware of all the options, we have compiled a list to help you to make the right decision.


An apprenticeship can take between one and four years to complete, depending on the level of qualification you want to achieve and in what criteria.

To apply for an apprenticeship, you have to be 16 or older and the qualifications you achieve will depend on the kind of apprenticeship you enrol on:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeships (equivalent to five good GCSE passes)
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeships (equivalent to two A level passes)
  • Higher Apprenticeships (lead to qualifications at NVQ Level 4 or, in some cases, a Foundation Degree)

The standard office working day tends to be 9am - 5pm (depending on your career choice). Other jobs will rely on you being flexible with hours, available for weekend shifts as well as being on call throughout the day and night. Jobs requiring flexible hours include: healthcare, emergency services and manufacturing.

Don't forget that a plus side to apprenticeships is the fact that you will be paid alongside learning!


Another option for those of you wanting to go straight into work would be to start your own business/work for yourself. People who usually take this path have a few years of experience, with the right drive and ambition. You need to be able to take into consideration what owning a business involves in order to decide whether this is the option for you.

Even if you choose to go straight into work after your GCSEs, this doesn't mean you can't go back to studying later in life.


You need to carefully think about the subjects which are right for you and the ones you have an aptitude for, to ensure you enjoy studying these topics more thoroughly. If you are considering university after college it's also worth checking with your school tutor what A Level subjects are mandatory, as many university courses require certain subjects.

In the first year of college you will be studying your AS levels which will lead onto your second year where you will complete your A2's. These two years combine to equal a full A Level. Alternatively, can take part in a B-Tech course which provides you with the qualification; 'Bachelor of Technology', if you decide that A Levels aren't for you.

A-Level qualifications are compulsory for most universities and high-end jobs which require extra training such as law or medicine.

The subjects available to study at college are endless, everything from Maths, English and Science to Languages, Psychology and Media Studies. Today's job market is very competitive and demanding so you need to ensure you have the qualifications and experience for your desired job.

Still not sure what choice is right for you? Take a look at thousands of live jobs on
CV-Library and see what career would suit you; then you can work out what steps you need to take to get your dream job.