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Options with your foundation degree: Getting a job

The work placements you undertake as part of your foundation degree will be valued by employers. Find out if they are enough to compete in today's graduate job market

Can I get a graduate job?

A foundation degree qualifies you to level 5, which is at a university level and makes you a graduate, but this is one level below an honours degree at level 6. Therefore, if an employer asks for an honours degree or a level 6 qualification as an essential requirement for a specific role, then you won't be able to apply.

However, just over half of foundation degree graduates employed in the UK were working in a graduate-level job six months after graduating (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2012). So you can get a graduate job but there are things to be aware of:

  • most graduate schemes ask for an honours degree and so aren't open to you unless you top up to a full honours degree;
  • some employers may consider you for a level 6 qualification role if you can show that you are working towards topping up your qualification.

Read about entry requirements for the roles you're interested in and find out if you need any specific experience as well as further qualifications by visiting types of jobs.

How can I increase my chances of getting a job?

Employers look for more than just qualifications when they're looking to recruit for a job.

Evidence from the Higher Education Statistics Agency suggests that foundation degree graduates don't struggle as much as first degree graduates when they finish their qualification, as a smaller proportion are unemployed six months after graduation compared to first degree graduates.

This may, in part, be because the qualification is designed to not only give you the theoretical knowledge needed but is usually work-related to ensure you can apply this knowledge to the workplace.

Practical experience built up from work placements while on the course also helps foundation degree graduates to apply their knowledge.

To progress in some careers such as social work, work experience is essential, as it's a prerequisite for entry onto the postgraduate course. Paid internships are available, as are voluntary roles that you take on to build up your experience and help qualify for the course.

Many people study part time for foundation degrees in order to continue working throughout their studies. This enables people already immersed in their careers to gain an additional qualification in order to progress within their field.

For more information on boosting your practical experience, see work experience and internships.

Where can I find a job?

Help is available from a range of sources, including:

  • Careers service - It is often a good idea to start by talking to your university careers service to gather information and advice about the kind of career you are interested in and ways in which you can enter the profession. They may also be able to point you toward resources that they offer advertising jobs and work experience.
  • Prospects - If you're unsure about which sector you might like to work in why not have a look at the job sectors on this site and read more about what each sector is like and the opportunities available.
  • Industry professionals - Your foundation degree course will have given you opportunities to complete work placements and this is the perfect opportunity to build your contacts. By impressing those you work with on placements you may find opportunities open up to you or that you are made aware of other vacancies in the area.
  • Social media - Networking doesn't just have to be with people you work with. Your friends, family and lecturers on your course may have contacts they can put you in touch with to find out more about the occupation or a sector you're interested in. Social media sites such as LinkedIn are useful when job hunting as you can connect with organisations you're interested in working for and get involved with groups related to the sector you wish to enter.

If you need help working out which career is right for you then register with the My Prospects Career Planner and see your skills, interests and qualifications matched with suitable jobs.

Get more tips on how to find a job.

Can I change careers?

You're just as likely to be able to change your career if you hold a foundation degree as any other degree because many graduate jobs are open to candidates of any subject discipline.

Foundation degrees are work-related, so they can be helpful accessing careers within a particular sector, for example education or engineering.

Research is important when considering a change of career. You need to find out as much information as you can about the career you're interested in changing to. You can do this by talking to people who work in the area to find out what it's really like.

Find out what skills and qualifications you need to enter the career and then assess whether you have any gaps that need to be filled.

Another way of changing your career is to top up your foundation degree to an honours degree, which will increase the range of jobs you can apply for.

Top-up courses are generally in a similar subject discipline. Check with the institution providing the top-up course to find out if your particular prior learning will count.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
June 2013

Graduate jobs


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