Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) are work-related qualifications. Study is usually full or part-time over one or two years. An HNC is equivalent to the first year of a degree, an HND to the second year of a degree. On completion of an HND you could top up to an Honours Degree at university.
BTEC Level 1 courses are usually taken as a Diploma and provide you with a foundation in your chosen vocational subject. BTEC Level 2 courses can be taken as an extended Certificate (equivalent to two GCSEs) or more usually as a Diploma (equivalent to four GCSEs) Level 3 BTECs take between one and two years to complete. The Level 3 BTEC is available as a Subsidiary Diploma (equivalent to one A Level), Diploma (two A Levels) and an Extended Diploma (three A Levels). A new 90-credit Diploma is equivalent to one-and-a-half A Levels.