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Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs)

The majority of YMCA Awards qualifications are VRQs, nationally recognised qualifications providing skills and knowledge to prepare candidates for the workplace.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

NVQs are similar to VRQs, but are delivered differently. They offer 'on the job' training with candidates taught and assessed in the workplace. Other YMCA Awards qualifications can provide the underpinning knowledge and skills required for specific NVQs. 

Technical Certificates  

These are VRQs that form part of Apprenticeship programmes, therefore many YMCA Awards VRQs can be used as technical certificates. YMCA Awards also offers mandatory technical certificates for the sector (Understanding the Fitness, Leisure and Recreation Industry) at Levels 2 and 3.


New qualifications for 14-19 year olds available in a range of subject areas at Foundation, Higher and Advanced levels. They differ from GCSEs and A-Levels by mixing class work with hands on experience and offering a wide choice of Additional and Specialist Learning options.

YMCA Awards is supporting Edexcel in the development of the Diploma in Sport and Active Leisure, available from September 2010. A range of YMCA Awards qualifications are now available as Additional and Specialist Learning.

Click here for more information about the Diploma


Apprenticeship programmes allow candidates to gain qualifications and skills whilst in paid employment. YMCA Awards NVQ's can form part of an Apprenticeship.

Click here for more information about Apprenticeships

Levels explained

Level 1

Designed to provide an introduction to the health and fitness industry and applied basic exercise and fitness knowledge. The type of job they could lead to is an assistant fitness instructor. Level 1 YMCA Awards qualifications are on the same qualification framework level as Key Stage 4, GCSE grades D-G or NVQ 1.

Level 2

Sometimes known as 'entry level,' certain Level 2 qualifications (e.g Certificate in Fitness Instructing) provide entry onto the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) at Level 2 and can lead to jobs as Gym Instructors or Aerobics teachers. Once qualified, many Level 2 qualifications offer routes into teaching different disciplines such as studio cycling, step and circuits. Level 2 YMCA Awards qualifications are on the same qualification framework level as GCSE grades A-C or NVQ 2.

Level 3

Designed to provide an advanced level of exercise and fitness knowledge, these qualifications provide the basis for careers in Personal Training or Advanced Fitness Instructing, both of which secure entry to REPs at Level 3. They also allow instructors to specialise in working with GP referred clients, older adults or ante and postnatal women. Level 3 YMCA Awards qualifications are on the same qualification framework level as A levels or NVQ 3.

Level 4

Level  4 or “Specialist Exercise Instructor” is the highest level of registration available on REPs.  Due to the rigorous and exacting standards required, qualifications at this level are intended to provide the fitness industry, employers, the medical profession and members of the public, with the greatest confidence and trust, placing the Level 4 Specialist Exercise Instructor at the pinnacle of their profession.  Level 4 YMCA Awards qualifications are on the same qualification framework level as Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE), Higher National Certificates (HNC)