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Your HND, what next?

Although a Higher National Diploma (HND) is a qualification in its own right, the majority of students use it as a stepping stone onto a degree course...

Should I 'top up' to a degree?

HNDs are vocational qualifications usually studied full time for two years (or three years part time), which prepare you for careers in specific industries, such as engineering, business, hospitality, computer science, design or health and social care.

However, if you want to apply for a graduate scheme or graduate-level job you will usually need to complete a degree and most HND graduates choose to 'top up'.

Because the HND is a high-level qualification it gives exemption from some professional examinations; but you need to check which ones carefully. For example, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) allows HND holders exemption from some foundation exams.

Before you make a decision:

  • check if you can get into your chosen career with an HND at types of jobs;
  • work out if you can afford to study for a degree;
  • discuss your options with a professional adviser at your careers and employability service.

What are my options for further study?

You can transfer onto the first, second or third year of a degree course with an HND. Acceptance into the final year is more likely if you have studied a similar subject and have a good academic history. You will probably have to start in the first year if your chosen degree subject differs from your HND.

If you wish to move on to a degree course then you must apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) a year before the programme begins. Not all institutions accept HND students onto the second or third year of a degree programme so contact your chosen university in advance.

As an HND graduate there may be opportunities for postgraduate study available, but you need to check the course entry requirements carefully. It is widely believed that you need a higher qualification, such as an honours degree, to join a postgraduate programme. However, there are certain courses where relevant experience is highly valued, especially in areas such as social work and business.

Check out the range of postgraduate qualifications available and search for postgraduate courses that accept HND graduates.

Can I get funding for further study?

If you are looking to make the step from an HND onto a degree course a student loan will be available, provided you have not studied for an undergraduate degree before. Get more information about Student Finance and Loans .

Institutions also offer bursaries or scholarships to students. Payments - either instalments or lump sums - can be made to students for a variety of reasons, such as a scholarship for sporting excellence or financial support to help students from a poor background fulfil their academic potential. Contact your chosen institution to find out if you are eligible.

For those looking to move on to a postgraduate degree, funding may be available. There are many options to pursue in search of financial help - to explore them visit funding postgraduate study.

What do other HND graduates do?

Around 37% of recent HND graduates studied business and administrative studies, while 15% studied engineering. Science and creative arts and humanities subjects were also popular choices.

More than half of students go onto further study six months after completing an HND, most of whom choose to study a first degree.

Destinations of HND graduates
Destinations Percentage
Employed 25.9%
Further study 52.0%
Working and studying 15.9%
Unemployed 3.1%
Other 3.1%
Types of work entered in the UK
Retail, catering and bar work 24.7%
Engineering and building 12.4%
Technicians and other professionals 10.6%
Sectretarial and numerical clerks 8.1%
Other 44.2%

Destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

What jobs can I get with a HND?

The top ten professional or managerial jobs held by recent HND graduates include:

  • other engineering professionals;
  • ship and hovercraft officers;
  • engineering technicians;
  • mechanical engineers;
  • quantity surveyors;
  • design and development engineers;
  • sports coaches, instructors and officials;
  • electrical engineers;
  • marketing associate professionals;
  • civil engineers.

Most graduate-level jobs and graduate schemes call for a minimum 2:2 degree or higher. In order to apply for these, you will need to 'top up' to a Bachelors degree.

Find out starting salaries, entry requirements and career prospects for specific types of jobs.

How can I increase my chances of getting a job?

Given the vocational nature of an HND, job opportunities may present themselves while you carry out work experience. The contacts you make on the course may also prove useful when searching for a job.

It is important to highlight on your CV the many skills you have gained through your HND. Discover example CVs and create one to suit you by visiting CVs and cover letters.

Do your research and find out what companies are searching for. More information can be found at what skills do employers want?

One way to open up graduate-level job opportunities and graduate schemes is to pursue a degree after finishing your HND. Once complete, you will be able to apply for many internships and jobs that would previously have been unavailable.

Discover where to find employers and how to improve your chances of finding job vacancies.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
September 2015

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