Sophie studied a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Construction and the Built Environment at Gloucestershire College as part of an apprenticeship programme.

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I started my career after completing A levels at the age of 18 with an apprenticeship in Local Authority Building Control which was my step into the construction industry. Following completing a BTEC and HNC in Construction and the Built Environment, I started a part-time degree in Building Surveying at UWE whilst working.

I absolutely loved the whole course and made a career change to work as a Building Surveyor. I now work for Atkins which are a global engineering, design and project management consultancy.


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I selected the HNC after completing the BTEC National Diploma in the same subject as I wanted to add to my qualifications and work towards becoming a Chartered Building Surveyor with the RICS and Chartered Building Engineer with CABE. The course was also supported by my apprenticeship.

Completing the HNC meant more opportunities for my future

This has had a huge impact on my career, I was able to start a five-year part-time degree at UWE in Building Surveying once I completed the HNC. Due to having the HNC I was able to do the degree in three years rather than five which was so helpful!

The HNC course was broad enough to ensure I was able to have lots of choice in my career which means I can go into different roles within the construction industry with ease.

By doing the HNC followed by the degree meant I have a HNC qualification and a degree which makes me more appealing to employers, as opposed to the linear degree route only. I was able to mix and build a network with students from a range of career routes which has built my confidence and experience, this complimented having my degree peers who are all doing the same job, and it’s nice to have both.

My progression from the HNC and beyond

I am delighted to have achieved my dream of becoming a Chartered Building Surveyor, the HNC was part of the journey to taking on the chartership.

Having completed my degree, and the RICS APC Chartership Programme three years later, I’m currently looking to become a senior surveyor. And my long-term, 10-year goal, is to progress to director level within my global company.

The sky is the limit and I would like to see more women in senior roles across the industry!

If you’re thinking about studying a BTEC Higher National, I’d say…

Enjoy the learning journey and take every day as it comes, sometimes it can be overwhelming to think you have a few years of study ahead, but the time absolutely flies by. Try and keep on top of your work by doing something every day, little and often works well and blends nicely with working.

Always be open to asking for help, whether that be with your lecturer, students and your employer. Most people are more than happy to help, and your colleagues would have all been through it too.

Enjoy it, it is so wonderful to be working towards developing your skills and knowledge and a privilege to be in the position of doing your HNC, pat yourself on the back for the work you did to get here.

My biggest advice to everyone is to be yourself, you are authentic and that will really stand out.

And finally - find yourself a HNC role model. And if you cannot find one then become one!