Read the Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) Privacy Notice on our Privacy page.

What is a Higher Technical Qualification?

HTQs are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by IfATE to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to IfATE’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. HTQs align to approved occupational standards and allow learners to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education.

1. Purpose of Reforms

There is a growing demand for skills at levels 4 and 5 from employers and learners. The number of learners taking qualifications at level 4 and 5 is low compared to other countries and other levels of education.

In July 2020, the government published its plans for the future of higher technical education at level 4 and 5 in England. These plans set out the government’s ambition to increase the number of learners at level 4 and 5, and the supply of much-needed skills, to raise productivity and prosperity. This will be achieved through three key reforms:

  • ensuring qualifications are prestigious and meet employer needs through an IfATE-led national approvals process backed by a new quality mark for level 4 and 5 qualifications
  • ensuring that courses and providers delivering the approved qualifications are high-quality
  • developing level 4 and 5 qualifications as an attractive choice for learners and employers. This includes raising the profile and understanding of higher technical education courses through the quality-mark, a communications campaign and improvements to information, advice, and guidance


The Department for Education’s Role

The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for developing the policy for the reforms of higher technical education and qualification funding. The department also has responsibility for increasing the prestige of higher technical provision through the promotion of the HTQ quality-mark and communications material, as well as through improving information, advice, and guidance.

For more information on DfE’s promotion, please visit their Get the Jump and Provider Toolkit webpages.


IfATEs Role

IfATE have put in place an employer-led HTQ approvals process, building on our experience and expertise of approving apprenticeships and T Levels. We will compare submitted qualifications against approved occupational standards, ensuring sufficient coverage and assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are needed for an occupation. We will also require robust employer engagement endorsement of submitted qualifications.

IfATE are responsible for making final approval decisions.


2. Rollout of Routes

Routes will gradually be rolled out within the first four cycles of the HTQ approval process, thereafter all routes will be included in future cycles.

The first cycle in 2020 covered the Digital route, followed by the inclusion the of Health & Science and Construction routes in the second cycle in 2021. Business & Admin, Education & Childcare, Engineering & Manufacturing, and Legal, Finance & Accounting were introduced in cycle 3 in 2022.

Cycle 4 will launch in 2023 for first teach from 2025 and will include occupational standards in:

  • Agriculture, Environmental & Animal Care
  • Catering & Hospitality
  • Creative & Design
  • Hair & Beauty
  • Care Services
  • Protective services
  • Sales, Marketing & Procurement
  • Transport & Logistic

Plus, all previously launched routes.


Occupations without standards

If you have a qualification that aligns to an occupation that is not included in IfATEs occupational maps, we want to know. If the identified occupation meets our criteria we will work with you and relevant employers to develop an occupational standard. Please contact to discuss new occupations.


Future opportunities for approval

We will provide applicants with the timelines for future cycles as soon as possible to give them maximum time to align their qualifications to available occupational standards within the relevant routes.

To prepare for submission we urge you to begin aligning your qualification to the relevant occupational standard’s KSBs and review your qualification’s content and assessment to ensure they are in the best position to be approved.

We will continue to ensure that the most up to date occupational standards are available on our website and will keep you updated on any revisions.    

Support and resources are available to support applicants in making their applications.


3. Cycle 4 standards in Scope and timeline

We are pleased to announce that the next approvals window for Higher Technical Qualifications will open on 8 May 2023 and close on 30 June 2023.

Further information and timelines will be communicated shortly. We encourage applicants to book support sessions prior to submitting their application.

You can find further information on available support on our support and resources page. Please email the approvals team for further information, guidance, or support.


Cycle 4 standards in scope

Below is a list of standards in scope for cycle 4 of the Higher Technical Qualification approvals process. You can also download this data.

Please contact the HTQ team if you are considering submitting a qualification against an occupational standard not listed below, and we will be happy to discuss the case with you. Some of the occupational standards not listed here are under-going review or have reviews scheduled to start during cycle 4.

We will periodically update this list when occupational standards become available, and if there is a need to remove occupational standards from the scope of HTQ approval. A final list of occupational standards in scope for cycle 4 will be published in March 2023. After March 2023, the list of occupational standards in scope for cycle 4 will not be amended.

Agriculture, environmental and animal care

  • Horticulture and landscaping technical manager (Level 5) (ST0924)
  • Arboriculturist (Level 4) (ST0921)
  • Vet technician (livestock) (Level 5) (ST0946)
  • Countryside ranger (Level 4) (ST0926)
  • Golf course manager (Level 5) (ST0208)


Business and administration

  • Data protection and information governance practitioner (Level 4) (ST0967)
  • Corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioner (Level 4) (ST0934)
  • Quality practitioner (Level 4) (ST0853)
  • Trade union official (Level 4) (ST0815)
  • Coaching professional (Level 5) (ST0809)
  • Information manager (Level 4) (ST0762)
  • Improvement specialist (Level 5) (ST0555)
  • Learning and development consultant business partner (Level 5) (ST0563)
  • Regulatory compliance officer (Level 4) (ST0430)
  • Community energy specialist (Level 4) (ST0092)
  • Improvement practitioner (Level 4) (ST0192)
  • School business professional (Level 4) (ST0575)
  • Policy officer (Level 4) (ST0526)
  • Operations or departmental manager (Level 5) (ST0385)


Care services

  • Early intervention practitioner (Level 4) (ST0868)
  • Lead practitioner in adult care (Level 4) (ST0007)
  • Leader in adult care (Level 5) (ST0008)


Catering and Hospitality

  • Senior culinary chef (Level 4) (ST0864)

Construction and the built environment

  • Town planning assistant (Level 4) (ST0936)
  • Land referencer (Level 4) (ST0877)
  • BEMS (building energy management systems) controls engineer (Level 4) (ST0629)
  • Construction design and build technician (Level 4) (ST0043)
  • Construction site supervisor (Level 4) (ST0048)
  • Construction quantity surveying technician (Level 4) (ST0049)
  • Acoustics technician (Level 4) (ST0613)
  • Building services engineering senior technician (Level 4) (ST0041)
  • Facilities manager (Level 4) (ST0484)
  • Civil engineering senior technician (Level 4) (ST0046)


Creative and design

  • Junior Visual Effects (VFX) Artist or Assistant Technical Director (ATD) (Level 4) (ST1325)
  • Journalist (Level 5) (ST1324)
  • Post production engineer (Level 5) (ST0933)
  • Assistant recording technician (Level 4) (ST0944)
  • Audiovisual technician (Level 5) (ST0940)
  • Media production co-ordinator (Level 4) (ST0792)
  • Junior animator (Level 4) (ST0488)
  • Broadcast and media systems technician (Level 5) (ST0425)
  • Post production technical operator (Level 4) (ST0696)
  • Historic environment advice assistant (Level 4) (ST0749)
  • Cultural heritage conservation technician (Level 4) (ST0611)



  • Applications support lead (Level 4) (ST0949)
  • Digital accessibility specialist (Level 4) (ST0863)
  • Cyber security technologist (2021) (Level 4) (ST1021)
  • DevOps engineer (Level 4) (ST0825)
  • Digital community manager (Level 4) (ST0345)
  • Business analyst (Level 4) (ST0117)
  • Software tester (Level 4) (ST0129)
  • Data analyst (Level 4) (ST0118)
  • Network engineer (Level 4) (ST0127)
  • Software developer (Level 4) (ST0116)


Education and childcare

  • Early years lead practitioner (Level 5) (ST0551)


Engineering and manufacturing

  • Engineer surveyor (Level 4) (ST0847)
  • Space engineering technician (Level 4) (ST0855)
  • Engineering manufacturing technician (Level 4) (ST0841)
  • Automation and controls engineering technician (Level 4)(ST0662)
  • Food and drink engineer (Level 5) (ST0624)
  • Vehicle damage assessor (Level 4) (ST0406)
  • Process leader (Level 4) (ST0695)
  • Brewer (Level 4) (ST0580)


Health and science

  • Outdoor learning specialist (Level 5) (ST0945)
  • Sports coach (Level 4) (ST0770)
  • Orthodontic therapist (integrated) (Level 4) (ST0701)
  • Hygiene specialist (Level 4) (ST0873)
  • Clinical dental technician (integrated) (Level 5) (ST0543)
  • Health play specialist (Level 5) (ST0829)
  • Associate continuing healthcare practitioner (Level 5) (ST0786)
  • Nursing associate (NMC 2018) (Level 5) (ST0827)
  • Hearing aid dispenser (Level 5) (ST0600)
  • Oral health practitioner (Level 4) (ST0542)
  • Technician scientist (Level 5) (ST0597)
  • Associate ambulance practitioner (Level 4) (ST0287)
  • Healthcare science associate (Level 4) (ST0220)
  • Healthcare assistant practitioner (Level 5) (ST0215)
  • Dental technician (integrated) (Level 5) (ST0108)


Legal, finance and accounting

  • Payroll assistant manager (Level 5) (ST0869)
  • Internal audit practitioner (Level 4) (ST0587)
  • Insurance professional (Level 4) (ST0241)
  • Actuarial technician (Level 4) (ST0004)


Protective services

  • Anti-social behaviour and community safety officer (Level 4) (ST0930)
  • Youth justice practitioner (Level 5) (ST0878)
  • Non home office police officer (Level 4) (ST0764)
  • Fire safety inspector (Level 4) (ST0746)
  • Counter fraud investigator (Level 4) (ST0747)
  • Intelligence analyst (Level 4) (ST0516)
  • Police community support officer (Level 4) (ST0509)


Sales, marketing and procurement

  • Market research executive (Level 4) (ST0883)
  • Buying and merchandising assistant (Level 4) (ST0683)
  • Sales executive (Level 4) (ST0572)
  • Marketing executive (Level 4) (ST0596)


Office of the Independent Adjudicator

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent body set up to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales. The 2004 Act defines the higher education providers that are required to be members of the OIA’s Scheme.

The Department for Education encourages all providers which own an approved HTQ to join OIAs scheme, to provide a consistent approach for complaints from students. 


Last updated 15 Nov 2022