Decoding Education and Training: Accredited vs. Non-Accredited

By Keeva Gilchrist BA(Hons), MSc | Learning and Development Manager at PerpetuityARC Training

Training and education are integral cogs within the mechanisms of our day-to-day lives and represent our professional journey. Coupled with experience and professional memberships, the education pathways we have embarked upon tell a story about who we are and what we have achieved. From relatively informal, onsite training concerning the responsibilities bestowed upon us within new job roles, to more intricate and formalised means of education when embarking on lengthy, career-enhancing courses; we all have goals and aspirations and understand that education is (often) our means of achieving these. It is no secret that when assessing candidates for job roles in the modern world, qualifications stand out. Although vast sector experience remains a very desirable and often a required element for many professional job roles, qualifications, and evidence of further education within the sector is increasingly sought after. One only needs to spend a few moments on popular, professional job sites for evidence of this. Education and training are also a necessary means of moving towards promotion and securing our place as Subject Matter Experts within a particular domain, both of which typically boost our bank balances and, also, our credibility, confidence and prospects within rapidly professionalising sectors.

The very nature of education itself is designed to bring us from points A to B, demonstrating that we have developed the necessary skills and have the required determination and self-discipline to do so, ergo achieving an end goal. However, when met with the requirement or desire to enhance our understandings of a particular subject and – in turn – boost our prospects, many of us will set these goals aside due to the mass of convoluted information that there is out there, focused on selling us a dream. We become lost in a sea of information and find it hard to navigate towards the best fit for our personal needs. As a means of a compass, this article aims to equip you with the necessary information to make personal, goal-focused, and career-orientated decisions for the enhancement of your own professional prospects.

Accredited Qualifications Versus Non-Accredited Programmes: Understanding their Merits

It is paramount to understand that accredited and non-accredited programmes bring with them their own individual merits. Understanding the differences between accredited qualifications and non-accredited qualifications (intended purely for knowledge-gain purposes) should arguably be our first step towards making informed decisions about personally appropriate education and training.

Accredited Qualifications

­ Accredited qualifications adhere to strict Awarding-Body approved syllabi – made up of specific learning objectives and assessment criteria – aimed to assess at a particular level, on a particular subject or number of specified subjects, and over a particular length of time. The official accredited accolade will always be issued by an Awarding Body (Pearson, QNUK, SFJ Awards, for example). You should be able to determine if the qualification is in fact accredited by having conversations with the training provider, for example, asking them to share the name of the Awarding Body, the level (BTEC Level 5, SFJ Awards Level 7, for example), and the award category (Award, Certificate or Diploma).


Qualification frameworkThe above framework demonstrates that for an Award qualification, you will typically be expected to dedicate between 10 – 120 hours of study in order to complete the qualification. This is in stark contrast to the end of the accredited qualification spectrum, where 360+ hours are required for a Diploma. Additionally, the qualifications are tiered by level – meaning that for example, a level 3 qualification may require you to list and explain based on what you have read in the provided course materials, whereas a level 5 may require you to evaluate and analyse, based on your materials and extra-curricular research.  You may also be tasked with utilising your own personal experiences within the professional security management sphere, using examples where necessary to further embellish your answering. The levels are completely determined by the complexity of the tasks that you will undertake and the amount of research that will be expected of you; in many cases, you will have to meet specific eligibility requirements in order to enter onto programmes from level 5 onwards.

PerpetuityARC Training and The Security Institute encourage learners to progress through the levels and categories, in an upward manner. This is as per The Security Institute’s own Security Management online accredited pathway, where learners have a clear route from Security Management Certificate level 3 (equivalent to post-ALevel study), to Diploma level 5 (equivalent to university foundation-level study), and then onto Advanced Diploma (equivalent to MSc level-study). Each course is designed to equip you with the skills to progress further with your academic writing and research skills and ultimately, become increasingly at ease with more advanced means of assessment type. Many learners use this progression route to then enter into University programmes, including the MSc International Security and Risk Management (facilitated by PerpetuityARC Training, in partnership with The University of West London), therefore creating the opportunity for learners to broaden their own academic horizons and unleash their inner potential, at a comfortably gradual pace.

Non-Accredited Programmes

Conversely, non-accredited courses are designed for knowledge gain purposes only (typically within a specific area) and do not award learners with any formal qualification (e.g. BTEC). They can, however, be awarded Continued Professional Development (CPD) points – a necessary component for certain ‘licenses to practice’ and also, for continued annual membership with specific professional membership bodies (SyI Membership and CySP, for example). Non-accredited programmes are extremely useful when seeking to increase your personal understandings of a particular niche area, or introduce yourself to a developing bank of concepts without having to commit to a set amount of hours’ study required for either an award, certificate or diploma.

Before embarking on a course, it is necessary to consider whether you require an accredited or non-accredited programme in order to meet your goals. So as to provide you with freedom of choice, The Security Institute offer an array of accredited and non-accredited courses facilitated by PerpetuityARC Training and Tavcom Training, via their online learning portal. You can select from non-accredited, bite-sized systems training courses such as Access Control and Intruder Alarms, right the way through to accredited security management programmes, including the SRF BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management.

Above all, it is essential that you put your personal education and training goals into perspective before committing to a training programme. Consider the benefits of accredited and non-accredited pathways and have the necessary conversations with training providers to determine the correct course choice for you. If you wish to speak further about what you can do to develop your own professional prospects, please contact The Security Institute’s Exclusive Education Partner – PerpetuityARC – on 0845 838 7221 or email us on

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