What Qualification Should You Take On?
Certificates, Diplomas and Bachelor degrees can be excellent ways to further your education and development – but how can you decide which qualification will best suit you? And what’s the difference between them all?
Certificates are available in 4 levels – I, II, III and IV. Certificate I is the most basic and Certificate IV is the most advanced. The higher level the Certificate, the more in-depth the content and the longer the duration. There’s also a huge range of Government Funded Courses at Certificate and Diploma level.
Certificate I and Certificate II Courses
Some courses will start with a Certificate I short course or a Certificate II and are considered to be entry-level courses; they usually don’t require pre-requisites (or prior knowledge or education).
Certificate I & II courses are ideal places to start if you’re new to studying (or haven’t taken on a course in a long time) or if you need a very basic introduction to a particular field. It’s a great place to begin to get a taste of what an industry has to offer and are very popular among people wishing to upskill to improve their employment opportunities.
A Certificate III is also a great starting point if you want to start a new career or develop skills in a specific area. To gain entry into a Certificate III course, you will usually need to have completed one of these:
Certificate III Courses
These requirements will vary depending on the type of course/industry involved. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a popular method of gaining entry into a Certificate II if a course has been done before, with the possibility of credit being gained towards the course based on your previous qualifications.
In some areas, such as Fitness, a Certificate III is considered to be the entry-level certificate and so no Certificate II exists or is required.
If you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s the difference between a Diploma and a Bachelor Degree?’, you’re not alone. While a Bachelor Degree is a higher level qualification, a Diploma is very valuable to anyone wanting to get a better understanding of the industry, the skills needed in a career and the practices and responsibilities that are needed to be successful in whichever industry you’re looking to pursue a career in.
What’s the Difference Between a Diploma and an Advanced Diploma?
A Diploma or Advanced Diploma is essentially one step up from Certificate IV and involves more in-depth studies and assessments. In some cases, you may need to complete a Certificate IV before you can take on a Diploma. In other cases, you may be able to gain direct entry into a Diploma course.
Diplomas will usually require you to apply your technical and theoretical knowledge in a range of contexts to equip you for work in the ‘real world.’ They usually take around 1-3 years to complete and can be perfect if you want a more focused and involved level of study. Many Diploma courses also have a work placement component, ensuring you have the ability to gain crucial experiences under industry professionals.
A Bachelor’s degree is one of the most popular degrees you can undertake and is most commonly offered through universities. They usually take 3-4 years of full-time study to complete.
Entry into a Bachelor’s degree can be competitive, depending on the field of study, and often requires a high school certificate or extensive work experience.
When studying a Bachelor’s Degree, you will usually specialise in one area and work on increasing your education, knowledge and experience in that field.
Bachelor’s degrees are globally recognised and can be mandatory for many jobs in the workforce.
Beyond the Bachelor level of study, there are also many further options open to you, including Honours Degrees, Graduate Certificates/Diplomas, Masters of Arts and PhDs/Doctorates.
So, Which Qualification is Right For You?
Lots of factors should be considered in your decision. These key points may help:
Hours of Study
It’s important to be realistic about how many hours of study you can take on each week. Can you commit to something like 15-20 hours of study or do you only have room for 2-4 hours?
If you’re short on time, keep in mind that it may be more beneficial to choose a course/qualification that doesn’t demand too many hours per week. Generally speaking, something like a Certificate can also be a little less pressure than a Bachelor’s degree.
Duration of Study
Think about how long you want to take to complete your studies. Are you interested in a short 1-month course? Do you only want to study for a year? Or are you willing to commit to 3-6 years of study? You’ll need to weigh up these questions in relation to your career goals and your desired job/s in future. In most cases, the more hours you put in per week, the faster you will finish the course (for example, a Bachelor of Arts usually takes 3 years of full-time study, but if you only want to study part-time, you’d be looking at a duration of 6 years).
While most courses in different qualifications are available online, it’s important you determine which is the best for you, especially in terms of your commitments; both work or personal. Most Diploma and Bachelor Degrees can be lengthy in duration, with most being undertaken on campus. It’s essential you work out what’s the best for you, online or in class as well as assess the blended course options.
Just how passionate are you about your chosen area of study?If you’re unsure if a certain field is right for you, it may be more beneficial to start with a short course or a Certificate qualification. This is a good way to ‘test the waters’ and determine if you enjoy the subject and want to continue with further studies.
Consider what job you want to take on in future and what basic qualifications you will need.For instance, if you want to become a Day Care Worker, you will need a Certificate III at a minimum. If you want to get into Human Resources, consider whether a Diploma might increase your chances of employment over a Certificate qualification.
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