NVQs are available for Levels 1 to Level 5 in over 1,300 different frameworks, so they can be combined to fit with lots of different job roles. NVQs are offered in England and Wales and there is no age limit on who can take them. They can be done at the candidate's own pace so there is usually no time limit to complete the assessments but sometimes funding will run out.

The NVQ breaks down a job role into specific ‘work tasks’ in which you are assessed. The work tasks build into units of study and the units of study build up a portfolio of evidence of your work skills.

NVQs are very practical and for each work task you are assessed as ‘competent’ and signed off as able to do it or ‘not yet competent’ and requiring re-assessment. There may be some written tests which tend to be multi-choice tests rather than long essay questions.

Because most people taking NVQs are already in work, on completion they continue in the job or move on to the next level of the NVQ until they reach the right level for the job role. Achieving the NVQ can help with applications for jobs at the next level.


NVQ level 1: is the right starting level for you if you have few or no qualifications and are looking to learn how to do a practical job. It means you can complete a range of mainly routine tasks correctly, by yourself.

NVQ level 2: is the level at which most people will start to train. NVQ 2 shows you can complete work needing more skills and knowledge than those with level 1.

NVQ level 3: is the level technicians and trainee managers work towards. NVQ 3 demonstrates the knowledge and skills for a broad range of work activities including many that are complex and non-routine.

NVQ level 4: is for those in management or other senior jobs. NVQ 4 demonstrates competence in doing complex, technical or specialist work. This may include work involving design, planning or supervisory duties.

NVQ level 5: is for those with extensive experience in senior or management jobs. NVQ 5 demonstrates extensive knowledge and responsibility for your work including technical ability and that you have the ability and expertise to take responsibility for a wide range of managerial decisions.

An NVQ is one of the 3 parts that make up an apprenticeship. So if you are on an intermediate apprenticeship you will be taking an NVQ level 2, on an advanced apprenticeship you will be taking an NVQ level 3 and a higher apprenticeship you will be taking an NVQ 4/5.

To find out more about other qualifications return to the Qualifications page.

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