A Guide to Start Vocational Education and Training Courses in Australia

Vocational education and training (VET) allow students to gain work-related skills and knowledge by participating in a nationally recognised industry-developed training programme or an accredited course. Registered training organisations deliver, assess, and certify VET (RTOs). 

VET may benefit students’ exploration of a variety of career paths; it is not just reserved for a trade’s pathway (e.g. plumbing, automotive, and construction). Students can pursue VET in a variety of fields, such as business administration, veterinary nursing, aged care, or sport and recreation. 

By providing ‘applied’ (or practical) learning opportunities, an Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification provides an efficient, cost-effective pathway to employment. A VET qualification can also serve as a steppingstone to higher education degrees.  

The VET sector in Australia is based on collaboration between government and industry, with curriculum development directly informed by expert industry councils and representatives. VET courses and qualifications in Australia are designed by industry experts to ensure you are job-ready with the most up-to-date industry knowledge and skills. Australian governments (federal and state) contribute to VET funding and oversee quality assurance in the sector.  

VET qualifications are offered by both government-run Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions and private Registered Training Organisations.  


What is VET?  

VET stands for vocational education and training. It is a practical way of learning that equips you with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce.  

VET qualifications are available to people of all ages, beginning at the age of 16, at a variety of educational institutions. Students in Year 10 and above can participate in a VET course in addition to their regular studies, which contributes to their ATAR. Vocational education and training courses are provided by TAFE institutions, private registered training organisations (RTOs), and universities. 

TAFE institutions offered Vocational education and training courses, a private registered training organisations (RTOs) and Universities that also offer VET. Course levels range from entry-level qualifications such as Certificate I and II, to more advanced courses such as Certificate IV and Diplomas.  

In Australia, vocational education and training (VET) is a course of study that allows you to learn specific and practical job skills. It’s ideal for international students seeking a faster path into the workforce and a focus on real-world and industry-based skills.  

VET is distinct in that it focuses on teaching practical skills that will assist you in the following areas:  

  • Start your first job (either in Australia or in your home country)  
  • Return to work after a break  
  • Develop, update, and enhance your knowledge in your chosen field.  
  • Have current skills so that you can easily transition into a different career  


Why should you study VET?  

For many students, VET is an excellent option. It always includes hands-on learning and can lead to excellent jobs in a wide range of fields.  

Taking VET gives students the opportunity to develop practical skills relevant to industry and work, and it’s a great way to get a head start on a rewarding career. Students can also gain capabilities and employability skills that will help them in the future, such as communication, independence, and time management.  

Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses teach students practical and technical skills that they will need in the workplace. Certificates I through IV, diplomas, and advanced diplomas are available from TAFE institutes, private colleges and organisations, and universities that offer both VET and higher education courses. If you’re considering studying in Australia, we can help you narrow down your options by listing the benefits of VET study for international students.  

If you’re wondering if vocational education and training is right for you, keep reading to learn how VET courses can meet your educational and training needs. 


Higher education is typically more hands-on  

The primary goal of VET programmes is to provide practical skills. This means that they are more ‘hands-on’ than higher education courses, which tend to be more theoretical. So, if you study cooking, you will spend your time cooking, baking cakes, and experimenting with new techniques, rather than just reading about cooking. Instead of completing essays and exams like students in higher education, assessment requires you to achieve certain competencies to demonstrate that you have mastered skills.  

If you want to know what pathways are available to get into the career you want, read about popular fields of study in Careers in Australia, which will help you decide whether you need to study at the VET or degree level (note that some occupations require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum).  


Education and training of high quality  

VET courses provide learners with high-quality training that meets industry standards and needs. Learners who complete their training receive a nationally accredited certificate that is recognised throughout Australia for their skills.  


Prepares you for employment  

VET prepares learners for the workforce at any age. Because it is practical, vocational education and training allows you to try out a career and see if it is truly for you before committing to it. 

You will also be able to see the working conditions, culture, and environment of a career. VET courses give you a taste of what working life is like and help you transition from studying to working.  


Additional job opportunities 

From retail and hospitality to construction and mining, the VET system covers a wide range of industries and career types. Whatever your interests are, there will be a VET course for you. It also improves your job prospects, and you may be hired by the company where you did your placement after finishing your course. 


Provides a pathway into the higher education sector 

The Australian Qualifications Framework establishes a national standard for qualifications and allows students to easily progress up the qualifications ladder. This means that completing a VET course can provide an alternative pathway to higher education, often with credit (which is awarded through Recognition of Prior Learning schemes). Speak with course advisers at the institutions you’re interested in about VET-to-HEI pathways. 


Assists you in becoming acquainted with the Australian educational system 

 The education system in Australia may differ from that of your home country. For example, you may find it difficult to adjust to the teaching style or the reduced number of teaching hours, as well as the requirement for independent study. Completing a lower-level VET qualification is an excellent way to ease into study before beginning a degree. It also allows you to adjust to your new surroundings and make new friends. 


VET qualifications 

VET qualifications include four levels of certificates, Certificate I, II, III, and IV, as well as Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses. The goal of a VET course is to broaden your knowledge and hands-on skills so that you can work in the industry. 


Quality assurance 

All VET training in Australia is governed by Australian government laws and regulations, and its quality is guaranteed. Laws and regulations are enacted to ensure and protect international students’ well-being and educational experience. Notable regulations and laws include the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), a national VET regulator, and the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. 


Qualifications and VET courses 

Those who complete a VET course can achieve any of the levels listed below, which are all accredited to Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) standards. 


Certificates I–IV 

If you want to get started in a new field, update your skills, or haven’t studied in a long time, a certificate is a great place to start. 

These courses provide the fundamental knowledge, skills, and training needed in a specific industry. Simply put, the higher the certificate number, the higher your level of skill when you graduate. 

A CertificateI-IV will provide you with knowledge and skills for entry-level work, whereas a Certificate IV will provide you with practical and theoretical skills for more specialised skilled work. 

Certificates range in length from six months to two years, making them ideal for getting started right away. 



If you want to specialise in a field or advance to a more senior position in your industry, a diploma may be ideal for you because it provides you with more in-depth knowledge in your field of study. A diploma will prepare you for careers in industry, business, and paraprofessionals. 

A diploma can also be used as a steppingstone to further education, such as a bachelor’s degree. Some diplomas may allow you to transfer credits to another higher education course, allowing you to get a head start and shorten the length of your degree. 

Diplomas are typically completed in one to two years of full-time study. 


Advanced Diploma 

The most significant distinction between a diploma and an advanced diploma is the additional time required to complete the more advanced learning. An advanced diploma is also a great way to get into a bachelor’s degree programme. 

Advanced diplomas typically require 1.5 to two years of study. 


English language courses 

Many VET providers also offer English language courses, so you can improve your English skills while preparing for the workforce. These can range from four-week courses to longer, more involved courses lasting 48 weeks. More information about learning English in Australia can be found here. 


VET Entry Requirements  

The entry requirements for VET courses vary depending on the course you want to study. While some require the completion of a certain level of education, others have no prerequisite. 

Basic tests such as literacy and numeracy are necessary for the entry process of some courses in order to show that you have the ability to fulfil the standard of work that is expected of you. Interviews and portfolios may also be required for entry into more popular subjects, so make sure you’re ready for them. 

If you do not meet the specific entry requirements for your course, you may apply for Recognized Prior Learning (RPL). This allows your previous work history and life experience to be considered and possibly recognised in order to meet the requirements. It should be noted that all VET providers, such as TAFE SA, are designed to be highly accessible and welcoming to all students who wish to further their education. 

You must also have an approved student visa, meet the English language requirements, and have Overseas Student Health Coverage as an international student (OSHC). 


VET as a career path 

You can use your VET qualification as a pathway to higher education if you are an international student who does not meet the requirements to enter an Australian university or if you want to try a specific course before committing to a lengthy degree. 

Those who complete a VET course with a Certificate IV or higher are eligible to continue their education in higher education.  

Depending on the course and entry requirements, VET can also provide prior learning credit to higher level qualifications, which means you could save a few years on your degree. 


Is VET right for me?  

VET is a practical education option that combines work-ready skills with cutting-edge knowledge through courses designed by industry experts. 

VET qualifications provide a quick and low-cost path to employment, giving you first-hand experience and the confidence to navigate a rapidly changing environment. 

When you enrol in a VET course, the skills, knowledge, and experience you gained from prior learning and work experience may be considered. You will not be required to study subjects that you have already mastered.  

Certificates are available at four levels (I, II, III, and IV), as well as Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses. VET is provided by a number of training providers, both publicly and privately through TAFE NSW. 

You can complete your training while working if you choose an apprenticeship or traineeship. While earning your qualification, you will work for a real employer and earn a real wage. 

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