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No matter what job or career you are interested in chances are it will require some type of minimum training and/or qualification.

A qualification shows you have the knowledge, skills and experience to be succesful in the job.

Understanding qualifications and how to get them can help you choose the right pathway to the job and career you want.

Qualifications and how to get them

Many jobs in Australia require some type of certified qualification. These are generally vocational or academic qualifications which range from Certificate I up to a Doctoral degree. They are defined in the Australian Qualifications Framework, AQF.

In addition to these qualifications, some jobs may require other types of certified qualifications such as a white card for construction, a responsible service of alcohol competency card for hospitality, a security licence for a security guard or a driver licence for a delivery driver.

The need for qualifications may seem like a barrier to get into the job and career you want. There are, however, various pathways to gaining the qualifications you need to set you on your career path.

Experience

For some jobs, extensive on-the-job experience is more important than certified qualifications. Some advertised jobs will list certain qualifications or a specified number of years experience as part of the requirements. If you have the experience the formal qualifications may not be necessary.

For jobs that do require certified qualifications taking an entry-level position in your field of interest can be a great alternative if you can't obtain the required qualifications at the time. This will allow you to take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills. Some organisations may offer on-the-job training with the ability to progress your career as you both learn, and gain valuable experience.

Volunteering or shadowing is another great option to obtain experience and get a taste for an occupation or industry you are interested in. Shadowing (also known as observing) is when you ask someone who is working in a role that you find interesting, whether you might be able to “shadow” them for a time. It is different to volunteering because you don’t actually do any work. Shadowing is an opportunity for you to witness the good and the bad of the role to give you more of a realistic idea as to whether it is right for you to pursue that career yourself.

Short courses

Short courses are a great way to obtain a specific skill or try out an area of interest without committing to a lengthy or expensive course. Some short courses can even be used at a later date to form part of the requirements for a further qualification. There are many short courses available, many of which are low-cost or even free. In some cases, completing a short course in a specific topic or skill may be all that is required to get you into a job that kicks off your journey into your desired career.

Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships present an effective pathway to well-paid jobs in a diverse range of careers. In NSW many of them are fee-free – meaning no upfront training costs for students or employers. Both offer the opportunity to get hands-on training and a nationally recognised qualification while being paid. Some can even be started while still in high school. Apprenticeships generally take 3 to 4 years to complete while traineeships usually take 1 – 2 years.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Vocational Education and training (VET) is a practical education option to gain workplace skills, technical knowledge and qualifications. It includes apprenticeships and traineeships as well as a multitude of courses. These are offered both publicly, through TAFE NSW, and privately, with some being low-cost or even fee-free. VET qualifications can provide a fast and cost-effective pathway to employment.

University and Higher Education

There are some careers that require more academic education and qualifications. These are usually considered to be bachelor degrees or higher and obtained through university or other higher education institution. Depending on the course of study undertaken the time to complete the qualification can range from 1 – 4 years.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency TEQSA, regulates and provides quality assurance for higher education in Australia.

The cost of higher education can seem a barrier, however the Australian Government offers assistance via the HECS-HELP loan scheme for eligible students. There are also some university qualifications that are part of a reduced funding cluster due to being careers in higher demand. These reduced funding clusters include Education / Teaching, Nursing, Languages (indigenous and foreign), and Agriculture. The 2022 allocation of units of study to funding clusters can be found here.

It’s important to note that all pathways to gaining qualifications can be used to get you where you want to go in your career. They can even be combined to create a unique journey to suit your needs. If you’re still unsure of which pathway is best for you why not make an appointment with a Careers Practitioner to talk through your options.

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Careers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.