Certificates or Diplomas are qualifications which are taught at TAFE providers, RTOs and other accredited providers around Australia, and are typically shorter than a university degree, with a stronger focus on workplace skills. Studying a certificate or diploma gives students a head start in the industry of their choice, by learning relevant skills and knowledge for their career.
Some workplaces even require a certification at this level. A certificate or diploma is at a lower accreditation level than a degree at university, meaning there are fewer prerequisites to enroll.
Certificate or Diploma qualifications
There are many levels at which to study for a certificate or diploma.
Certificate I (4-6 months)
This first level involves training in basic skills and routine tasks which can be performed under supervision in the workforce.
Certificate II (6-8 months)
This level provides skills at a higher level for solving straightforward work-based problems under supervision.
Certificate III (12 months)
This level equips its students with higher skills and additional theoretical know-how, for complex problem solving under limited supervision.
Certificate IV (12-18 months)
This qualification equips graduates with the skills to analyse and evaluate information, in order to apply their knowledge to a variety of workplace contexts. This level of training also gives graduates the advantage of taking some responsibility for other staff, such as working in supervision roles.
Diploma (18-24 months)
A diploma is developed to provide graduates with theoretical knowledge, as well as significant technical or creative skills. Students are encouraged to use analysis, critical thinking, and planning over a wide range of workplace situations.
Advanced Diploma (2-3 years)
This level of qualification gives students the ability to work in para-professional careers or management roles. Skills learned include fundamental principles as well as complex techniques. Graduates should be able to understand specialist workplace situations as well as analyse information and make decisions to create good personal and group outcomes.
Many certificates and diplomas are taught in a nested sequence, meaning that students will progress through a number of skill levels and qualifications during a single course.
Enrolling in a Certificate or Diploma
Applying to a course varies on each provider, and most courses require an application directly to the TAFE providing it.
However, some certificate or diploma courses require applications through the Tertiary Admissions Centre for their state. Therefore, it is important to check the enrolment process for the certificate or diploma involved. Once enrolled, the TAFE certificate or diploma provider will inform the student on further requirements such as textbooks or contact hours.
The costs of certificate or diploma courses vary, however students are able to apply for assistance with paying their fees through the Vocational Education and Training (VET) FEE-help scheme established by the government. This means the student does not need to pay their fees upfront, instead receiving a loan which can be paid off through taxation during their career.
Studying a certificate or diploma
Studying a diploma or certificate can take between six months or two years to complete, depending on the qualification and course. You can also choose to study either full or part time, depending on work commitments.
Studying a certificate or diploma at TAFE can give you a huge boost to your study and career options. A diploma or certificate will give you the opportunity to fast track to university if that is your aim.
Having a qualification at the certificate or diploma level gives graduates an edge over those who have not undertaken tertiary education. Therefore having a certificate or diploma can give you the skills and know-how to help get into the workplace faster.