YMCA Awards (previously CYQ) Tech levels (interim-reformed)

Qualification codes
600/1275/4 (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction)
601/0195/7 (Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise))

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

The aim of the YMCA awards in Personal Training is to recognise the skills, knowledge and understanding required for an individual to work unsupervised as a personal trainer. This includes being able to offer one-to-one training, baseline assessment, nutritional advice and progressive programming which is specific to individual needs.

The Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction allows for additional knowledge and skills in the areas of business planning, outdoor fitness and sports conditioning.

The Diploma in Personal Training (Gym-based Exercise) has the prerequisite qualification (Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing) built into it, allowing students with no previous skills or knowledge to progress straight onto the personal training qualification.

The qualifications are designed for:

  • those who want to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry as a self-employed or employed personal trainer
  • those wishing to use the qualification as a platform for progression on to further learning within the health and fitness or active leisure sectors, such as:
    • a degree in exercise and sports science
    • a degree in personal training

The qualifications feature in the Advanced Fitness and Exercise SASE apprenticeship framework. They are industry recognised and allow Level 3 entry to the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). In 2016/17 SFA catalogue they feature as legal entitlement qualifications.




The qualifications comprise a combination of internal knowledge and competence assessments and three or four external theory paper assessments each lasting approximately one hour.

The Diploma in Personal Training and Instruction requires the completion of 48 credits.

The Diploma in Personal Training (gym-based exercise) requires the completion of 52 credits.

Further information

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding interim-reformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The reformed and interim-reformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

Tech Levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech Level, and may be to a foundation degree.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.

View DfE’s technical guidance

Qualification specifications