School Leavers Careers Opportunities & Development - Advice Guidance - Information & News From Your Career Guide

A Guide to Your Career

Popular career paths




Qualifications required: Law degree/law conversion course followed by the requisite Legal Practice Course (LPC). You can also enter as a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX).

Experience: Two years of training, post graduation, on a training contract.

Salary: Starting: minimum £16,650 for those on a training contract. Mid-career: £25,000-70,000


Marketing manager

Qualifications required: No hard and fast rule, but many people enter marketing as graduates. Managers will normally gain a professional qualification such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Professional Diploma in Marketing or the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) Diploma in Direct and Interactive Marketing.

Experience: A common route to becoming a marketing manager is to start work as a marketing or PR executive in the marketing department of an organisation.

Salary: Marketing executives start on around £18,000-22,000. Mid career, a marketing manager can earn anything from £25,000 to £40,000.


Motor Vehicle Technician

Qualifications required: Otherwise known as car mechanic, a common entry route is via an apprenticeship, and/or completing relevant vocational qualifications such as City and Guilds, BTEC and NVQs.

Experience: Experience is key – work experience while at school will help enormously. Most vocational qualifications will also include practical experience.

Salary: Starts at between £15,000 and £20,000, rising to £25,000 mid career.


Software developer

Qualifications required: You normally need a degree or BTEC HNC/HND to become a software developer. Courses will normally cover the main programming languages and operating systems such ass Java, C++, Visual Basic, Oracle and Linux.

Experience: Once qualified, you should be able to start your career in the IT department of an organisation.

Salary: Pay starts at between £20,000 and £26,000 rising to between £28,000 and £40,000.


Beauty therapist

Qualifications: A fully-qualified beauty therapist will normally hold a vocational qualification such as City & Guilds Diploma or NVQ in Beauty Therapy.There are also CIBTAC and CIDESCO qualifications specifically for beauty therapists that are recognised internationally.

Experience: Many start as an assistant or junior therapist and complete the above qualifications to progress to the next level. There are also apprenticeships available.
Salary: Beauty therapists typically earn between £12,000 and £17,000 a year. Salon managers can earn over £20,000 a year.

Find more information on these and hundreds of other careers at



While times are indeed tougher than they were a couple of years ago, there are still many opportunities for school leavers.


All apprentices receive a minimum of £80 per week and an National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) upon successful completion.


A degree is a standard entry into many careers – not just ‘traditional’ professions such as architecture, engineering, medicine and law.


With so many jobs needing some kind of training or work experience to enter, a vocational course is a great way of getting both.