Should you choose an accredited course?
Studying a course that's been accredited by a relevant body could give you a headstart when it comes to getting a job in your chosen industry. Find out more here…
If you head to the course search here on Which? University, you'll notice that you can search for courses that specifically feature course accreditation – simply select 'accredited courses' from the search dropdown box.
An accredited course is one that has been approved by a professional body.
So, for example, an accountancy degree may be accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
What are the benefits of accredited courses?
Accredited courses count towards professional qualifications or registration with a professional body - which can benefit you in your career and, in some cases, be a legal requirement of the profession.
Protected titlesSome job titles are legally protected, meaning you cannot use them unless you are registered. You can't professionally describe yourself as an architect unless you are on the Register of Architects, for instance.
Boost your careerThe right professional qualifications and registrations can help make you more desirable to employers and clients – whether that's a case of being offered a higher salary bracket, the chance of a promotion or just getting your foot in the door in the first place.
Being a memberProfessional bodies aren't just there to keep unqualified people out: they also offer help and support throughout your career through things like training courses and lectures and preparing you for employment within that profession.
According to aerospace engineer Jeremy Collingridge: 'Professionalism in my industry comes from technical skill, team communication, commercial direction, integrity and responsibility. Being a member of the Institution helps me develop in all of these.'
Student membership of an institute means you can start taking advantage of these benefits while you're still studying towards your qualification. Emily Bullen, who joined the Institute of Chemical Engineers at university, told us: 'I only needed to pay £15 for the duration of my degree. This gave me access to lectures, knovel (an online library for engineers) and The Chemical Engineer magazine.'
What else is required?Although accredited courses are a great start towards professional status, they aren't the only requirement. You may have to take extra training after your degree, or demonstrate your professional experience.
There will usually be a formal assessment before you are awarded a professional qualification. This may involve exams or an interview with a review board.
Do you need to do an accredited course?You shouldn't be concerned about the quality of a course just because it isn't accredited – not all degree courses are. Accredited courses are only really necessary if there is a professional qualification in the industry you plan to work in – where they can help you to get ahead in your chosen career.
Some areas of study – such as accountancy, medicine, engineering or actuarial science – will be more likely than others to have accredited courses on offer.
How can you find accredited courses?Detailed course information on university websites should indicate whether a course is accredited. We also include accreditation information course pages right here on Which? University (start searching for accredited courses here).
Alternatively, if you're not sure where you want to study but know which industry you want to get into, consult the website of the relevant industry body. Most offer a directory of courses they accredit.