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What is an NVQ?

An NVQ is a National Vocational Qualification. It is a work-based qualification designed to measure competence in a professional role.

An NVQ is different from a traditional taught course as it requires you to show what you currently do and how you have the underpinning knowledge necessary to do your work, as opposed to teaching and testing you on new knowledge. To prove their competence, candidates collect evidence from their workplace according to the National Occupational Standard (NOS) of the NVQ.

What qualifications are equivalent to an NVQ?
Because NVQs are work-based qualifications, it is difficult to give exact academic equivalents. However, as a guide:

• Level 3 NVQ - BTEC National Certificate or Diploma
• Level 4 NVQ - BTEC Higher National Certificate or Diploma
• Level 5 NVQ - First degree or professional qualification

Why should I do an NVQ?
Completion of an NVQ shows your current and potential future employees that you are competent in your work and demonstrates an interest in continued development, improving your employability.

Who decides my starting level?
The level you work at in your current employment determines what NVQ level you first aim for.

You must have a minimum number of relevant years’ experience. If you do not have the relevant experience, you may be able to undertake an NVQ through a different centre. Please contact the Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE) for details of alternative NVQ centres.

Do I have to attend a college or night school?
No. NVQs are an assessment of your competence in your workplace. An assessor will visit you in your workplace to carry out a range of assessments. Your assessor may also need to talk with your colleagues and/or line manager.

Is there any homework?
Yes, there may be. You will collect most of your evidence in the workplace as a result of your daily work.

Organising and cross referencing your evidence and compiling your portfolio will also need tobe done. You may have to do this at home if you do not have enough time within your working hours.

Are there any examinations?
No. Your assessor will assess you over a period of time in your workplace.

Will it stop me from doing my job?
No. In fact, the NVQ should complement your job and demonstrate your competence.

How much time will it take?
You can work at your own pace. The time it takes for you to complete your NVQ may be affected by workload, your commitment (and the employer's) and how easily you can find the evidence required. As a rough guide:

• Level 3 NVQ 9-12 months
• Level 4 NVQ 12-18 months

You do not have to complete within these timescales.

Can I fail an NVQ?
No. If you have not provided enough or the right evidence, your assessor will help you find additional or different evidence.

How often will I see my assessor?
Your assessor should either visit or contact you every four weeks.

How long will a visit last?
This will vary depending on what your assessor has planned with you. It may take 2-3 hours or longer if you are being observed carrying out a lengthy piece of work.

If you are an individual candidate, RICS NVQ Centre will appoint an occupationally competent assessor to guide you through your NVQ.

What qualifications will my assessor have?
All assessors will either be qualified with a TDLB D32, TDLB T33 or A1 assessor award, or will be working towards their qualification.

All assessors have to be 'occupationally competent'. This means that their professional experience must match the NVQs that they wish to assess. For example, someone wishing to assess an NVQ in Estate Agency must have practised as an estate agent.