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If you want to work, think about what to study:

  • Which subjects to study
  • Type of qualification you need

There are two pathways to get qualifications: you can study in an academic or vocational pathway. The vocational path includes a traineeship or an apprenticeship.

The academic path starts in Year 10. Year 12 VCE or VCAL is the next step. The list of academic qualifications starts at entry level through to the most advanced qualifications:

  • Certificate I, II, III, IV
  • Diploma/Advanced Diploma
  • Bachelor degree
  • Bachelor degree with Honours
  • Masters degree
  • PhD and Doctorate


A traineeship is training in a non-trade related area.
For example working in a fast food outlet, office or a shop.

Traineeship qualifications range from Certificate II to Advanced Diploma.

A traineeship in the workplace usually takes 12 months and must be agreed by the trainee and the employer.

Anyone can do a traineeship.
How to become a Trainee
Become a trainee at any time
  • During school
  • After school (at any age)
  • If you are unemployed
  • Working in a different job
Reasons to do a traineeship
  • to work and earn money while you get your qualification
  • a mix of classroom or workshop learning (off-job) and practical (on-job) learning
  • real life experience in the workplace
Traineeship - examples

Traineeship is training in a non-trade related area:

  • Cafe
  • Office administration
  • Retail (clothing, products, shoes)
  • Cleaning
  • Community services
  • Disability
  • Real Estate


An apprenticeship is training in a trade-related area.
For example working as a hairdresser, plumber, builder or an electrician.

Apprenticeship qualifications range from Certificate II to Advanced Diploma. Apprenticeship qualifications take between three to four years of training. Training must be agreed by the apprentice and the employer.

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Anyone can do an apprenticeship.
How to become an Apprentice
Become an apprentice at any time
  • During school
  • After school (at any age)
  • If you are unemployed
  • Working in a different job
Reasons to do an apprenticeship
  • to work and earn money while you’re getting your qualification
  • a mix of classroom or workshop learning (off-job) and practical (on-job) learning
  • real life experience in the workplace
Apprenticeship - examples

Apprenticeship is training in a trade related area.

  • Aircraft Engineering
  • Automotive (Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles)
  • Boating
  • Bricklaying & Stonemasonry
  • Carpentry, Cabinet Making, Joinery & related occupations
  • Electrical
  • Engineering & Metals
  • Flooring, Carpet Laying and Upholstery
  • Gardening, Horticulture & related occupations
  • Hairdressing
  • Painting & Decorating, Tiling & Glazing
  • Plastering
  • Plumbing & Gasfitting
  • Printing

Certificate I, II, III, IV

These courses are longer than short courses and are ideal for beginners. Many TAFEs and private colleges offer Certificate courses. You can also do some of these courses online.

Certificate courses run between six months to four years. Certificate courses can also lead to a Diploma or a Bachelor Degree or both!

Anyone can study at certificate level.
Where to apply for a Certificate course
Certificate courses are ideal for
  •  Getting skills and knowledge for an area of work
  •  Getting a qualification to work
  •  A pathway to a degree
Reasons to do a certificate course
  • Gain basic knowledge, skills and qualifications to work in an area
  • To study a trade or subject
  • Combine an Apprenticeship and Certificate qualifications
  • To upgrade or improve your existing skills
  • To specialise in your area of work


Courses at Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Associate Diploma levels take one to three years to complete, and are generally considered to be equivalent to one to two years of study at a bachelor degree level. Many students combine a Diploma with a certificate or a bachelor degree.

These courses are delivered by community education centres, TAFEs, private colleges and universities.

If you are thinking about completing a Diploma, discuss this with your educational institution first.
Where to apply for a Diploma

Students can study Diplomas in almost any TAFE and RTOs.

Click here to go to a list of TAFEs available in Victoria.

A Diploma would be ideal if -

You want to improve your skills or further qualifications in the area you already work in.
You want to work or do more study in a particular field.  For example:

  • Office Management
  • Sales
  • Business
  • Architecture
  • Building and construction
  • Education
  • Design, Illustration or Fine Art
  • Writing and editing
Diploma - examples

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Bachelor degree

All universities offer bachelor degrees. A bachelor degree is also called an undergraduate degree. To apply, universities will usually need your ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score. This is your Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) score.

Bachelor degrees take three to four years of full time study.

To apply for a Bachelor degree course, you can either apply through VTAC or directly to the university.
Where to apply for a Bachelor degree
Reasons to do a Bachelor Degree
  • More job opportunities
  • Increase in knowledge of a specific area
  • Increase in salary
  • Pathway to Master degree or Doctorate degree

Bachelor degree with Honours

An Honours degree is a one-year full time program after you finish your Bachelor degree. Honours degrees can provide a pathway to postgraduate research or further study. Honours programs are only offered to students who do well in their last year of a Bachelor degree.
To get into an Honours Program, you will need to talk to the relevant course co-ordinator.
Where to study Honours

Please see Where to study Bachelor for a list of universities to study Honours year.

Reasons to do Honours year
  • To complete a small research project
  • To increase chances of entering a Master course or PhD or Doctorate course
  • Some courses require you to complete your Honours year in order to work in the industry (ie. Psychology)

Masters degree

Masters degrees are two years of full time study in addition to the Bachelor degree. They allow you to work in some specialised areas. There are two types of Masters degrees: Masters by Coursework and Masters by Research.

Some jobs require you to complete a Masters degree before you can work in the field. Click on “Masters degree – examples” for job specialisation examples.

Masters by Coursework involves completing specified units of study, assignments and in some cases, sitting an exam.

Masters by Research is more demanding, involving independent research and the completion of a research paper. There may be some compulsory units on research skills that you attend.

Where to apply for a Masters degree

Almost all universities offer Masters courses. However, not all universities offer the same courses. See Where to apply for a Bachelor degree for locations.

For example -
A health student decides she wants to become a psychologist. However, her university does not offer the course, Master of Clinical Psychology. This means the student must apply the course in a different university.   

Reasons to do a Masters degree
  • Gain specialist knowledge of a subject
  • Gain higher qualification in order to work in the specific area
  • Advance your career in the specialised area
  • Gain a pathway to further research and study
  • Increase earning potential
Masters degree - examples

Some jobs require a Master degree or equivalent before you can work in that specific job:

  • Accounting
  • Architecture
  • Health specialisation (Audiology, Doctor, Speech Pathology)
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Teacher of the Deaf

PhD and other Doctoral degrees

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy.  A doctoral degree can also be called a research doctorate, or professional doctorate. PhD and Doctorates are the highest academic level available.

Very few students choose to pursue a PhD or a Doctorate but if a student receives a high mark in their Masters degree, they may be eligible to do further research. Students studying at PhD or a Doctorate levels must complete a thesis of 80,000 to 100,000 words on a specialised topic. Students need to have a supervisor to support their study and research.

PhD degrees are three-year, full time programs. Doctorate degrees are three to five-year, full time programs.

PhD and Doctorates are only offered at university level.

Where to study PhD or Doctorate

Most universities offer PhD and Doctorate positions. Students must apply to get into the PhD or Doctorate programs.

Reasons to do a PhD or Doctorate
  • Interested in doing research
  • Want to become an expert in your area
  • Enjoy the academic environment
PhD and Doctorate - examples
  • Doctor/Medical Scientist/Scientist
  • Psychologist
  • Engineer
  • Architect
  • Law
  • Any subject!

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