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Management Qualifications - An Overview

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Author: CJ Williams

Management Qualifications - An Overview

The article is about management courses, in a specific way that explains the different levels of such courses, what each type of course contains, how each different type and level of course should help you, how it should change you, and also this is about how each type of course is regarded in the world of business and management.

This article is designed to set the scene, by outlining the range of courses that are available to managers at the different stages of their development.

Let's start with the foundation, introductory, courses, suitable for those who are taking a first step into the world of management, whether it is as an employee in an organisation, or as a budding entrepreneur.

In this band there is a large number of options, ranging from individual short courses, focusing on skills needed in areas such as teamwork, basic budgeting, decision making, quality, etc

Many organisations run in-house courses in these areas, but it there are also many providers who offer them full qualifications that are stand-alone but also the first step on the management ladder, include the Higher National Certificate and then the Diploma, the HNC and HND, highly regarded national and internationally recognised qualifications, usually taking 2 academic years if studied at college, or 18 months if by distance learning.

These (relative to management) include the HNC / HND in Business & Management / Finance / Marketing / Law and others.

Alongside these are:

Professional Development Certificates in Management, part of the "national framework" of qualifications, offered again in colleges and by distance learning providers, with content that introduces the learner to areas such as teamwork, supervisory activity, finance, decision making.

NVQs ~ national vocational qualifications ~ in Management (and many related subjects) at introductory level:

Level 3 ~ introductory / newcomer to management.

As the manager, or specialist, gains more experienced managers, the range widens and rises, and the qualification taken will depend on the individual's experience and position the main options are:

Level 4 ~ suitable for reasonably experienced junior to middle managers

Level 5 ~ aimed at experienced, knowledgeable managers at middle to senior level

Level 7 ~ aimed at strategic managers

Level 6 ? don't ask ! its a mystery even for those of us in the business !

NVQs are "competence" based which means, in essence, that the student must show "evidence", must "prove" that she/he is competent (in management) at the level, and to the criteria, described in that particular NVQ.

NVQs are popular with large, bureucratic organisations, that need to be certain that their managers at all levels are, provably, "competent".

Another group is the "professional development awards" including:

Professional Development Certificate in Management ~ and ~ Professional Development Diploma in Management ~ and Advanced Professional Development Diploma in Management.

These are also "banded" at Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and Level 7 in similar fashion to the NVQs, because these qualifications are accepted as being in the "national qualifications framework" or NQF (!!)
some providers offer variations of these, with the CMS Certificate in Management Studies and the DMS Diploma in Management Studies being the most popular.

Indeed, the DMS is the UK's most widely recognised management qualification ~ the "manager's management qualification" ~ and is the qualification that most organisations expect their middle to senior managers, and professional specialists, to hold.

In case you're thinking what about the MBA? for every MBA holder in the UK there is 100 with a DMS and 99% of those will not go on to, will not need to go on to, an MBA

Masters ~ MA, Msc, MBA ~ these are the next band, and are the highest "management" qualifications, not only in the UK but also in most countries around the world but, there are thousands of variations in content available, and considerable variation in quality and relevance, so choosing a suitable, appropriate quality, one of these is fraught with difficulty
* we will come back to these later

If you are thinking what about PhDs ~ doctorates ? ~ yes, they are "higher" level, but they don't in my view, truly fit into "management courses" because they are, and meant to be, academic in nature and not designed to improve the individual's management skills

About the author: CJ Williams is a tutor and management consultant currently working with Brighton School of Business and Management in the UK. Specialising in Business and Management courses taught via distance learning.

CJ has had a wide and varied career including working as an Executive Manager in the Hospitality Industry, a Management and Business consultant in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and a Management Lecturer in the UK and China.

He currently focuses on helping individuals and teams to develop personally and professionally.

The writer, CJ Williams, can be contacted at or via

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