If you wish to get a healthcare qualification in Australia, there are many different types and levels of qualifications that you can choose from.
What is the AQF and why is it relevant?
The AQF or the Australian Qualifications Framework is maintained by the Federal Government, through its Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training, and underpins the national system of qualifications in Australia in the realm of higher education, vocational education and training and schools. All employers and institutions will recognise and accept qualifications that come under the AQF, which has three levels. The main categories are certificates, diplomas and degrees, in that same level of hierarchy.
Certificates I to IV are usually entry level post-school qualifications that take between six months and two years to complete. Certificates I to II provide basic vocational skills and knowledge, while Certificates III to IV provide more advanced skills and knowledge in your chosen stream. As a measure of comparison, a Certificate IV is the equivalent of six to twelve months of degree-level education at university. Note that it’s not always necessary to complete a lower level certificate to be able to undertake a higher one.
Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas
Diploma and Advanced Diploma level courses usually take around two or three years to complete. These courses give students the skills and knowledge required in a healthcare career, including a broad range of complex technical skills and in-depth knowledge. As a comparison, these courses are considered the equivalent of one or two years studying for a degree at university.
The standard university qualification is a Bachelor’s Degree, which usually takes three to four years to complete. Holders of a Bachelor’s Degree demonstrate broad, comprehensive knowledge and the ability to excel in a healthcare profession.
How do I know which course to pick?
In earlier days, IHNA offered only certificate and diploma courses and universities offered degree courses. This has now changed, and IHNA now offers some degree courses while universities offer some diploma courses as well. It is still always the case that the further up the qualifications hierarchy you go, the more you have to work to gain the credentials.
Choose your qualification according to the field in which you wish to work. For example, if you wish to work as child care worker, you can enroll in Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, or a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. If you love to work with old people, then a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability) would be your ideal choice of qualification. However if you want to work as a Registered Nurse, you’ll have to do a University Degree. More and more today, IHNA qualifications are recognised by universities. You can get RPL (Recognition of prior Learning) in the form of credits for any qualifications you have already achieved, and so whatever you have studied can be used as a stepping stone to further education.