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FAQ: What’s the difference between Award, Certificate and Diploma



If you are relatively new to the training industry, you may find some of the commonly used terms quite confusing. Don’t worry. In this blog, we will explain the terms used to describe qualifications.

Ways of Organising Vocational Qualifications:

There are generally two ways to indicate the standard of qualification: Difficulty and Size.

Level (Difficulty)

A Level is usually linked to the level of skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the qualification. It represent how challenging this qualification is to the learner.

A level can be compared with the frameworks of other countries. Higher levels of the qualification can also be compared to higher education.

Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas (Size)

Qualifications are also broken down into Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas, which relate to the number of hours required to complete each qualification. It indicates the size of the qualification. 

  • Award: awards are recognised as any qualification with up to 130 hours of training and equal to up to 13 credits.
  • Certificate: Certificates are recognised as any qualification with between 130 hours of training or 13 credits and 370 hours of training/ 37 credits.
  • Diploma: Diplomas are recognised as any qualification that has over 370 hours of training or over 37 credits.

These words have specific meanings in terms of qualification size that also link into the UK framework: the “RQF” (Regulated Qualifications Framework)., which formally known as the “QCF” (Qualifications and Credit Framework).

Confused about other terms in training?

Any other education and training terms confuse you? Leave a message and let us know. We’ll write further blogs to explain the most frequently asked questions!