When looking for a course, some of the key questions people have are how long will the course take? How much does the course cost? Will I need to come to you, if so, how many times and is that just for assessments or for input too? Is this course recognised by gyms? Will I be able to take this qualification abroad with me? Is this an approved, recognised qualification?
These are all important questions to be asking as not everyone’s circumstances are the same and not everyone’s end goals are the same, but some of these questions, regardless are more important than others. Cost is arguably the biggest factor, yet not necessarily the most important when deciding on which course to do and there are so many courses on offer that the search can sometimes become overwhelming and confusing.
The first thing you should be looking at is whether the course is an accredited, recognised qualification and whether the centre you are choosing is approved to run it. Courses that have been accredited have been taken through a reviewing process and then become recognised by a Government appointed national independent qualifications regulator such as OFQUAL. These are then followed up with regular monitoring to ensure that they meet specific criteria and maintain high quality standards. This ensures qualifications will truly be of benefit to those studying them and to the industry in which they are used. This also ensures a level of trust that can be assured to these qualifications by employers and potential employees and answers the question of whether a gym will recognise your qualification.
With regards to whether a qualification is recognised in other countries will be dependent on the country you are looking to take it to. Nationally recognised qualifications are highly regarded internationally, and as far as fitness qualifications, where there is a national register for exercise professionals, there is usually mutual recognition for these.
Approved centres are accepted by the awarding body who develop these qualifications and will then monitor delivery and assessment. These centres undergo both internal and external verification to ensure the highest quality and validity of qualifications are consistently being delivered.
When looking at the cost of the course, it is generally best to remember the saying ‘you get what you pay for’. If the qualification seems substantially cheaper than others, will it really enable you to competently act in that field? Will it be fully recognised? Will it be held in the same esteem as other qualifications? Your best bet is to really look around at what qualifications are on offer, who is offering the same product and what is the general going rate for them- a qualification’s worth has a lot to do with the possibilities it provides you with. If cost is an issue, look into funding- is it something that can be provided, can you apply for it personally or is it based on the provider, and what payment options are available?
Time to complete
Why is it that the same qualification can take different lengths of time to complete? This will depend on how much input you will get, how much you are expected to do for yourself and how much time you can dedicate to it. When running a qualification an organisation can usually choose to do a course completely face to face or as a blended course, in which there is a certain amount of face to face time and the other time is made up through directed self-study supported by tutorial sessions. Some courses may not require any face to face time, although the provider may choose to deliver some aspects of the course. When looking at these options, ask yourself what approach is best for you- which option will be best for your progression in your chosen profession? The fastest route is not necessarily always the best route, and the development of your knowledge and understanding should always take priority over how quickly you can get something done.
Ultimately, it is down to you how long your qualification takes to complete- target dates should be set by you and your assessor at the outset of your course and reviewed throughout. So, even though you may have chosen the quickest route, if the style of delivery does not suit you, or you are not learning the information as quickly as you thought you might, you may actually end up taking just as long as if you’d have chosen another pathway.
The online world is great for opening up so many more options when it comes to completing a course, but this may lead us to not want to actually go out there and experience things first hand, purely because of the inconvenience it may cause. When doing a course- particularly one that is practical-based it is always best to actually get out there, be in a different environment- whether that be a classroom or a practical setting, and experience it. You will learn much through your interactions with your surroundings- whether that is with others who are learning, tutors who are ready to give you plenty of information to digest, or new or different equipment that you haven’t used before. These interactions will also help you in the future, allowing you to draw on experiences and build on professional relationships you may have started to develop- you never know who or what may revisit you in the future! So when you are asking yourself ‘how many days will I have to attend a course?’ ask yourself instead ‘how many opportunities will I have to fully immerse myself in my chosen course/career path?’
A qualification’s worth is based on many different factors. The main question really is ‘Will this qualification benefit me and my personal development?’ If you can consider the factors discussed with a balanced attitude and your answer is yes, then go for it!