Careers | Students

Advice and Resources

Careers Adviser
Our Careers Adviser, Liz Verghese is based at school Monday to Thursday. Liz meets with Year 11 and sixth form students to ensure they are given impartial, personalised advice and guidance on their proposed courses and routes. If you would like to speak to Liz about anything careers related or would like to arrange a careers meeting, please see her in the SSC or email

Careers Resources
Throughout your time here, you will be provided with a wealth of information in order to make an informed decision about your future. You will also receive advice, guidance and development on ‘real world’ skills which you will need to navigate yourself through the next steps, once you leave St. Mary’s. This information will be provided through the Curriculum for Life lessons as well as bespoke careers related activities and events.

There is a dedicated careers area in the SSC, which includes college prospectuses, information on apprenticeships, armed forces etc as well as subject specific career ideas. Please come along in your break or lunchtime to have a look.

The following website provides you with some excellent information on: careers education, advice and guidance, emotional health, apprenticeships/training and employability skills: Jobs, careers and skills (

There are many different avenues to take and these are all dependent on your aspirations, the grades you get in your exams and what type of career or learning you want to pursue once you leave school. Although there are more and more avenues available each year, below are the main routes which students tend to take:

A Levels are Level 3 qualifications that you can choose to take after your GCSEs. You can take A Levels at St Mary’s Sixth Form St Mary's Catholic High School, M29 - Sixth Form Subject Information ( or other sixth form and further education colleges. They are very well regarded by universities and employers. A Levels will give you a chance to find out about your GCSE subjects in greater depth or you can choose to study a subject not typically offered at GCSE, such as Criminology, Sociology or Psychology.

They are good preparation if you are thinking of going onto higher education or if you are not sure of your career plans as they can keep your options open.

Most sixth forms and colleges will be looking for grades 4-9 in your GCSEs. A full A Level qualification is achieved after 2 years of study. How many you take depends on how well you have done in your GCSEs and what the sixth form or college suggests would be best for you.

Vocational Qualifications
These are related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care. St Mary’s Sixth Form offer vocational courses St Mary's Catholic High School, M29 - Sixth Form Subject Information ( as well as other local further educational colleges.

Vocational qualifications are a good option if you have a clear idea of what type of career or trade you’d like to work in. You can take vocational qualifications alongside, instead of, or after, academic ones like GCSEs, A-levels or degrees.

Entry requirements to these courses vary depending on the level you want to study and the organisation awarding it. Here are some examples:

BTEC have been around for over 30 years and are designed to give you the skills that businesses are looking for. You could go straight into work or onto further study with a BTEC. There are options at many levels, everything from levels below GCSE to levels that are equal to a degree.

NVQ are based on the national occupational standards for each career sector. National occupational standards are lists of skills and knowledge that employers say you need to be able to work in a certain sector. Usually you get the knowledge and skills you need for an NVQ by being trained while you are working, rather than at college, so they are good for people who want to combine working and learning. They are available from Level 1 (equivalent to one GCSE) to Level 8 (equivalent to a postgraduate degree level).   

They are usually studied part-time and can be taken as a stand-alone qualification or as part of an apprenticeship.

OCR Cambridge Nationals have been around since 2012 and are designed for students aged 14-16. They are linked to different industries, and geared to the requirements of each career sector. They take the same amount of time as GCSEs.

Diploma, the aim of diplomas is to give students practical training and work experience while learning. That means you get out into the workplace more and there’s less classroom-based learning compared to A-levels. You can study for a diploma at four levels – foundation, higher (HND), progression and advanced. A foundation diploma is equivalent to five GCSEs at grades D to G and an advanced diploma is worth 3.5 A-levels.

T Levels
T Levels are a new qualification after GCSEs. If you’ve already chosen your career and want to learn the relevant skills in a classroom. One T Level equals three A Levels and takes two years to complete.

The courses have been written with the help of employers so you get the knowledge and skills they need. You’ll be ready to get a good job when you qualify. You will spend 80% of your time in the classroom learning the theory and practical skills. Then, for the other 20% or 45 days minimum, you’ll put it into action on an industry placement with an employer.

You must pass every assessment and exam to get a T Level qualification. T Levels give you UCAS points so you can either go straight into work or apply for university or a degree apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is a great way to learn on the job, building up knowledge and skills, gaining qualifications and earning money at the same time. You will spend most of your time in the workplace gaining job-specific skills, but you will also be supported by a specialist learning provider to build up your knowledge and qualifications.

There are no set entry requirements as this depends on the apprenticeship, however, apprenticeships have grown very popular in previous years and there is a lot of competition, so good qualifications are important, as well as being motivated and committed.

Apprenticeship training can take between one and four years to complete and the length of your apprenticeship will depend on its level, the industry you’re training in and the skills you already have. It is important to note that there are different levels of apprenticeship and higher level apprenticeships will require higher grades and/or experience.

Higher Education
Higher education is third level education after you leave school. It takes places at universities and Further Education colleges and normally includes undergraduate and postgraduate study. Higher education gives you the chance to study a subject you are interested in and can boost your career prospects and earning potential.

Higher education qualifications mainly relate to levels 4 - 8 such as Bachelor degree, postgraduate qualifications, Higher National Certificates (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) and foundation degrees.

Your choice of career might be a key reason in deciding whether to go into higher education and what course to take. Some careers, including medicine, dentistry require you to have a degree. Other professions, like law or speech therapy, require you to have an additional postgraduate qualification on top of your degree before you can practice.

You may just want to study in a subject that really interests you or to broaden your knowledge in a certain area. However, studying a higher education qualification can also help you to develop skills and qualities that employers value, such as problem-solving and communication skills. It can be helpful to have a career path in mind before choosing a course to study.

 Labour Market Information
Labour Market Information is interesting and relevant to you. It tells you what jobs are out there in your area. Labour Marketing information also tells you:

  • Job vacancies;
  • Average earnings by job;
  • Trends for the future;
  • Skills and qualifications required by employers;
  • Skills shortages in the region;

Greater Manchester has strong growth industries in:

  • Education;
  • Science and Technology;
  • Construction;
  • Business and Media;
  • Health and Social Care.


To find out more about the labour market use the following widgets

The Skillsometer can help you discover what jobs you might like to do in the future. You will be presented with a series of statements. Select the emoji that shows how you feel about each statement. You will be given suggestions of jobs linked to what you most enjoy doing.


Careerometer can be used to explore and compare key information about occupations, help you learn about different occupations and identify potential careers.

It provides access to a selection of UK headline data relating to pay, weekly hours of work and future employment prospects for different occupations, as well as description of the occupation.

Simply type in the title of the job you are interested in and the widget provides a series of options from which you can select the most relevant to you. You can then look up another two occupations and compare. You can also select ‘display the UK average’ and compare the information with the occupation you have selected. 


Further information for students:

General Career Websites:

Apprenticeship Website:

Higher Education:

Subject Specific/Vocational Website:
Law – search for ‘The Beginners Guide to Law’
Travel and tourism
ICT careers
Psychology careers

NHS/Healthcare careers:




Police Force:

Art and Design:




Social Care:



Armed Forces: