Access to Higher Education – What career paths are available to learners?

The Access to Higher Education Diploma(AHED) is a flexible qualification designed for those aged 18 and over, who would like to apply for higher education courses at university level but do not possess the entry requirements such as A-levels or BTECs. Studying for an AHED is often compared to completing 3 A-levels as learners will accrue UCAS points in order to be accepted into universities.

A key benefit of completing an Access to HE course is that they are renowned for offering flexibility to learners with various modes of study and start dates. They can be studied full-time or part-time allowing you to work around any other commitments you may have, such as a family or work. Many Access to HE providers are still taking applications for courses starting this January.

Ascentis are the number 1 Access Validating Agency for Access to HE Diplomas nationwide. Below we explore the progression routes for our most popular diplomas. We show you what career paths previous Access to HE learners have taken and what you can also achieve from taking the first step into higher education and a new career through completing an Access to HE course.

Allied Health Professions

Learners who complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Allied Health Professions go onto study for degrees in health-related subjects and have careers working as Psychologists, Therapists, Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs), Orthoptists, Osteopaths, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Prosthetists, Orthotists, and Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiographers.


After completing our Access to Higher Education Diploma in Business, learners progress onto degrees in a variety of business-related subjects including Business Administration and Management, Accounting, Economics, Human Resources and Marketing.

Many previous learners have gone on to run their own business or have successful careers in Business, Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing and Public Relations.

Access to Higher Education – What career paths are available to learners?

Childhood Studies

Completing an Access to HE Diploma in Childhood Studies allows learners to progress onto a degree in Childhood Studies, Early Childhood, Youth Studies and other related subject areas. This can lead to a career working with children in a wide range of sectors including education, social care, health and charity sectors.

Studying an Access to HE Diploma in Childhood Studies is an excellent way to maximise job prospects as not all related careers need a degree. For example, after completing the course learners can work as a Nursery Assistant/ Practitioner, Learning Support Assistant, Teaching Assistant or Youth Worker without a degree.


Learners with an Access to HE Diploma in Computing can progress onto studying Information Technology, Computing, Communication Technology, Software Engineering, Computer Game Design, and other related fields at degree level. Learners can progress into careers in IT and telecommunications, spanning many sectors including finance, government, business, commerce, public services, and the voluntary sector. Also previous learners have gone onto work in Programming, Computer Game Design and Software Engineering. 

Counselling & Psychology

Completing an Access to HE Diploma in Counselling & Psychology allows learners to progress onto studying numerous degree courses; Psychology, Psychology with Counselling, Counselling and Psychotherapy, Education with Psychology, Criminology, Sociology, Social Psychology, Psychology with Professional Development or other similar subjects.

Engineering Science

Learners with an Access to HE Diploma in Engineering Science can embark on degrees in many subjects including Physics, Maths, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Electrical Engineering to name a few. Learners who have successfully completed the diploma and a degree can progress into successful careers within Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace and Electrical Engineering. Furthermore, previous learners have gone onto work in Computer Science, Building Surveying and Quantity Surveying.

Access to Higher Education – What career paths are available to learners?

Health & Social Care

Completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health & Social Care provides learners with numerous progression routes in the Health & Social sectors. Learners can go into further study or work in areas such as Childcare, Nursing, Midwifery, Community Work, Counselling, Occupational Therapy, Criminology, Social Work, Palliative Care, and care for the elderly.

Health Sciences & Well-being

Learners completing an Access to HE Diploma in Health Sciences & Well-being can progress onto university to study a range of Health and Well-being subjects at degree level and build a career in many areas including Sport and Fitness, Community Development, Health Education and Mental Health Nursing to name a few.


Completing our Access to HE Diploma in Law gives learners an understanding of different areas of this sector. There are a range of progression routes. Learners may go onto to study Law, Criminology, Politics, English and can also specialise in specific areas of Law.


Our Access to HE Diploma in Medicine is for learners who would like a career in Medicine but do not necessarily have the qualifications for undergraduate study. Through successful completion of this AHED, learners progress onto courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, and other Allied Health Professions. If learners go down the traditional route in Medicine and train to become a Doctor, this provides various career options in all areas of healthcare. Some areas learners go onto work in include General Practice, Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Intensive Care, Anaesthesia, Radiology, Paediatric, Ophthalmology and Public Health.

Nursing & Midwifery

Completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing & Midwifery provides learners with numerous progression routes to higher education and careers in Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Occupational Therapy and other health related subjects. Alternatively, some students have gone onto work as a Paramedic Practitioner or an Operating Theatre Practitioner.

Access to Higher Education – What career paths are available to learners?

Paramedic Science

After completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Paramedic Science, learners progress primarily onto higher education study in this field. Alternatively, some students study Nursing or Health Science at degree level after completing this diploma or go onto secure a Student Paramedic position with an Ambulance Service Trust. This can lead to a career working as a Paramedic, Senior Paramedic, or with the Air Ambulance. In addition, people can go onto work as an Emergency Care Assistant, Ambulance Technician or a First Aid Advocate. 

Physio and Sports Therapy

Following completion of an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Physio and Sports Therapy, learners go onto study for a degree in Physio and Sports Therapy or related subjects. This can lead to a career working in the private sector as a sports physiotherapist or in many departments of the NHS including outpatients, occupational health, orthopaedics and paediatrics, and rehabilitation for trauma victims.

Policing and Criminal Justice

Studying for an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Policing and Criminal Justice, learners can progress to university to study Policing and Criminal Justice at degree level. In addition, the Diploma maximises job prospects by providing learners with a direct route into some roles that don’t require a degree. These roles include Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Private Investigator and Community Support Worker.

Practitioner in Substance Abuse

This Access to HE Diploma is for learners aspiring to become a practitioner in drug and alcohol misuse or intending to study a degree in Social Work, Occupational Health, Mental Health or similar fields. After completing this Diploma and further study or training, many learners have gone onto work as Drug and Alcohol Practitioners, Social and Youth Workers, Prison and Probation Officers and Teachers. 


After completing an Access to HE Diploma in Radiography learners can go onto study Radiography at degree level and have a career working in the NHS or private sector as a Radiographer. This Access to HE Diploma provides learners with the necessary skills and education to apply for a job as a Radiographer Assistant.

Social Science

Completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Science allows learners to go onto study Social Science and other related subjects including Psychology, Sociology and Criminology at university level.

To find out more about career options and to search for available Access to HE courses visit providers are now taking applications for January 2021. It’s not too late to sign up to upskill and retrain.

Access to Higher Education – What career paths are available to learners?
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