Endorsed by leading employers and involving an industrial placement, T Levels are school-leaver qualifications in England that can give you the skills and experience required to enter a range of professions, or prepare you for a degree or apprenticeship
What are T Levels?
Introduced in selected schools and colleges in England as an alternative to A-level study, a T Level is a qualification that enables you to develop vocational knowledge and skills for your chosen career.
Primarily open to those aged between 16 and 19, these two-year technical-based qualifications involve students undertaking a 45-day (minimum) industrial placement as part of the course.
Created in partnership with industry, more than 250 leading firms have helped the government design the T Level qualification, which is available in a range of sectors, from health, early years and education to accounting, business, finance, engineering and the digital industries.
Read more about what they are at GOV.UK - T Levels.
You can search for courses near to you by visiting T Levels - Find your nearest T Level.
What are the benefits?
- T Levels provide school leavers with another study choice after their GCSEs and more options afterwards. For instance, after achieving your certificate, you could either go into skilled employment or pursue an apprenticeship. They can also help you to get into university.
- As you'll be required to spend more time in the classroom than with an apprenticeship (about 80% compared to 20%), you can continue studying in a familiar environment while getting to experience the workplace through an industrial placement directly relevant to your course. You can still choose to do a higher or degree apprenticeship after completing the course.
- You'll gain hands-on experience and are more likely to have the skills employers want when it's time to look for a job. This is different to work experience, which is typically much shorter in length, and more about observation than learning in the role.
- In terms of what it'll cost you, if you start a T Level before you reach the age of 19, you won't have to pay any tuition fees.
- While the industry placement is part of a course and there's no legal obligation to be paid by the employer, the host company can still decide to pay you for doing the work.
What subjects are T Levels available in?
With T Levels still being a fairly new qualification, they're not yet available in all sectors and subject areas, although they now cover eight major disciplines in total.
You can currently study T Levels in:
- agriculture, land management and production
- building services engineering for construction
- design and development for engineering and manufacturing
- design, surveying and planning for construction
- digital business services
- digital production, design and development
- digital support services
- education and early years
- engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
- healthcare science
- legal services
- management and administration
- maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
- onsite construction
From September 2024, T Levels will also be available in:
- animal care and management
- craft and design
- hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy
- media, broadcasting and production
How do T-levels compare with other qualifications?
On completing a T Level you'll be awarded one of the following grades:
As a nationally recognised Level 3 qualification, a distinction* at T Level is equivalent to three A* grades at A-level as well as a BTEC diploma.
If you had any aspirations to go to university, it's worth considering that a T Level distinction is worth the maximum 168 UCAS Tariff points (see the table below) - according to the model used by universities to assess qualifications in relation to their course entry requirements.
Over 140 higher education institutions now accept T Levels for entry onto at least one of their courses.
Read more about UCAS Tariff points and calculate what your qualifications are worth.
You can also explore applying for university.
|T Level||Tariff points|
|P (C or above on the core)||96|
|P (D/E on the core)||72|
How long do industry placements last?
The work placement can vary in length according to the needs of the employer and the area of specialism, but they must last for at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days) not including lunch breaks. The majority of placements are expected to last for around 50 days and typically take place during the normal working day (9am-5pm).
However, if an employer cannot commit to the full 315 hours, the placement can be shared between two organisations. This would include sharing your learning goals to ensure your objectives are met.
As your industrial placement will account for about 20% of your course, they can be completed either as a block, series of blocks, day release or a combination of these. The T Level itself, your college and the employer will determine this.
Hundreds of leading employers - including Yorkshire Water, Nestlé and the Lloyds Banking Group - have hosted T Level students on these industry placements, with some leading to a permanent role or apprenticeship upon completion of their course.
What are the entry requirements?
Schools and colleges set their own criteria, so check their website or contact them direct to find out more about their entry requirements for T Level courses.
To give you an idea of what's typically required, for entry onto the T Level in Engineering and Manufacturing at Wiltshire College & University Centre, you'll be expected to have gained at least five GCSE passes at grade 5 (B) or above, including English, maths and science.
On the other hand, to secure a place on the T Level in Accounting at University College Birmingham, you'll need five GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, including English language, with maths at grade 5 or above.
If you haven't achieved the minimum requirements for your course, T Level foundation years are a post-GCSE study programme that can help you to develop your English and maths, while honing your study, practical and technical skills. They also provide relevant work experience in the subject, preparing you for a full T Level.
Contact your school or college to discuss whether this would be the right pathway for you.
Find out more
- Consider studying A-Levels at college.
- Explore other college courses.
- Get the full lowdown by visiting the official T Levels website.