Vocational education and training

Australia – a place where work and study meet

Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) institutions offer practical expertise which will give you an advantage over other graduates.

When you study in Australia you can study many different areas including business and management, science and technology, design and arts, communications, sport and recreation, community service and health, tourism and hospitality, engineering and building, horticulture and land management and English.

Programs are provided by public Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Institutes, private colleges and a number of schools and universities.

You will learn both theory and practical skills – you will learn through experience not just books. If you want, your qualification can be built on to achieve higher qualifications, provide the basis to begin or change a career, or assist with further study at university. Your IEA-A representative can help you with these decisions.

Practical qualifications offered in Australia

You can choose these courses anywhere in Australia. You can achieve an AQF qualification (usually at Certificate or Diploma level) in specialised areas of study.

Like all Australian institutions, you are assured a quality education.

The Australian education system is different from many countries because of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF provides one national system for education.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) regulates all Australian Education and Qualifications. AQF provides clear rules on the level of education each qualification title represents and must provide.

The AQF also contributes to the worldwide recognition of Australian qualifications, as it is easy for other countries to understand what level of education each Australian qualification represents.

The AQF allows you to move from one level of study to the next and from one institution to another easily. It allows for choice and flexibility.

If you’re studying with International Education Agency – Australia towards an AQF qualification, you can be sure that your institution is Australian Government-authorised.

The AQF makes it easier for international governments to recognise your qualifications. It ensures world recognition.

Australia education system diagram

Australian Vocational Education and Training Diagram

Vocational education and training qualifications

The qualifications offered at vocational education and training institutions are Certificates I-IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma. They must meet national industry standards and prepare you for many careers.

Schools Sector

Vocational Education and Training Sector

Higher Education Sector

Doctoral Degree

Masters Degree

Vocational Post Graduate Diploma

Post Graduate Diploma

Vocational Post Graduate Certificate

Post Graduate Certificate

Bachelor Degree

Advanced Diploma

Associate Degree

Advanced Diploma



High School Certificate

Certificate IV

Certificate III

Certificate II

Certificate I

Vocational Education and Training (VET and TAFE) Qualifications

Certificate I – 4 to 6 months

Certificate 1 prepares you to perform a range of routine activities. Skills including preparatory access and participation skills, broad-based induction skills, and specific workplace skills possibly in a team environment, are taught.

Certificate II – 6 to 8 months

Certificate II provides the knowledge and skills to perform a range of varied activities or knowledge application in a range of contexts.

Certificate III – 12 months

With a Certificate III the student acquires a breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies. Technical and leadership skills are also taught.

Students will exercise discretion and judgement and group or team coordination may be involved.

Certificate IV – 12 to 18 months

You will acquire a breadth, depth and complexity of knowledge and competencies that cover a range of activities – these are usually complex and non-routine. Students are expected to demonstrate leadership and contribute to technical solutions.

You will have to demonstrate evaluating and analysing skills and be able to create new criteria and procedures for performing current practices. In addition to showing leadership you are expected to accept responsibility for others and demonstrate some organisational skills.

Diploma – 12 to 24 months

Some Diplomas are also offered by universities.

Diploma study involves depth and complexity covering planning and initiation of alternative approaches to skills or knowledge applications across a range of technical and/or management requirements, evaluation and co-ordination. Diploma holders will gain substantial depth in some areas where judgement is required and in planning and selecting appropriate equipment, services and techniques. A diploma student will participate in the development of strategic initiatives and take personal responsibility as well as organising others. Participation in teams is common.

Advanced Diploma – 12 to 36 months

Some Advanced Diplomas are also offered by universities.

This study involves depth and complexity involving analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation across a range of technical and/or management functions. Skills include developing new criteria or application or knowledge or procedures. You will learn to apply principles and complex techniques across different contexts. Also involved is contributing to the development of a broad plan, budget or strategy. You will learn to be accountability and responsibility.

Vocational Graduate Certificate

Some Vocational Graduate Certificates are also offered by universities.

This study involves the self-directed development and achievement of broad and/or specialised areas of knowledge and skills building on prior knowledge and skills.

It involves initiation, analysis, design, planning, execution and evaluation of technical and/or management function skills in varied and/or specialised contexts.

Applications involve high level, independent judgements in major, broad or specialised planning, design, operational, technical and/or management functions in different contexts. It may include management functions.

Vocational Graduate Diploma

Some Vocational Graduate Diplomas are also offered by universities.

This study involves the attainment of broad and/or specialised areas of knowledge and skills building on prior knowledge and skills.

Skills include making the high level, independent, complex judgements in broad and/or highly specialised functions in highly varied and/or highly specialised contexts. It may involve full responsibility and accountability for all aspects of work of others.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

In simple terms, it means past work and qualifications can be recognized and credited.

Each institution has its own policy regarding AQF, so check with your institution.

Some AQF qualifications are offered by more than one type of institution. For example:

  • both vocation education and training institutions and schools may offer vocational education and training for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and Certificate I-IV qualifications;
  • older students can study for their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education at a vocational education and training institution;
  • both universities and vocational education and training institutions offer Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas;
  • universities and other higher education institutions may issue Certificate I-IV qualifications; and
  • vocational education and training institutions, usually in association with universities, may offer degrees, Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas.

Quality assurance in VET

The National Training Framework is an agreement between the Australian Federal Government and Australian state and territory Governments in Australia on the nationally consistent training products and quality assurance arrangements for the vocational education and training (VET) system.

When you study in Australia, The Australian Quality Training Framework consists of two sets of standards: one for the State and Territory Accrediting and Registering bodies, and another for VET providers. Institutions wishing to offer vocational education and training courses to students must be a ‘Registered Training Organisation’ (RTO) and provide evidence of compliance with the AQTF standards.

The Australian Government monitors the operation of the National Training Framework through the National Training Quality Council, which provides advice on the quality issues to the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA).

Peak VET sector bodies

  • The Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) is the peak association of private providers of higher education and vocational education and training in Australia. It represents over 400 members and is concerned with enhancing the quality, choice, innovation and diversity in Australian education and training for individual, national and global development.

· The Australian Council of Independent Vocational Colleges (ACIVC) is the peak body of private vocational colleges in Australia that deliver business and business-related courses. It promotes and guarantees that students will be provided with the tuition for which they have enrolled.




Canberra Institute of Technology



TAFE NSW – South Western Sydney Institute


TAFE NSW – North Coast Institute


TAFE NSW – Riverina Institute


TAFE NSW – Northern Sydney Institute


TAFE NSW – Hunter Institute


TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute


TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute


TAFE NSW – New England Institute


TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute


TAFE NSW – Western Institute


Northern Territory

Charles Darwin University (TAFE Division)



Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE


Gold Coast Institute of TAFE


The Bremer Institute of TAFE


Southbank Institute


Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE


Tropical North Queensland TAFE


Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE


Brisbane North Institute of TAFE


Sunshine Coast TAFE


Central Queensland TAFE


South Australia

TAFE SA – Adelaide South


TAFE SA – Regional


TAFE SA – Adelaide North



South West TAFE


Swinburne TAFE


Victoria University of Technology (TAFE Division)


East Gippsland Institute of TAFE


Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE


Sunraysia Institute of TAFE


William Angliss Institute of TAFE


Holmesglen Institute of TAFE


University of Ballarat


Box Hill Institute


Wodonga TAFE


Goulbourn Ovens Institute of TAFE


Chisholm Institute of TAFE


Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE


Gordon Institute of TAFE


Kangan Batman TAFE


RMIT University



TAFE Tasmania


Western Australia

TAFE WA – South West Regional


TAFE WA – Pilbara


TAFE WA – Kimberley


TAFE WA – Swan


Curtin University of Technology


TAFE WA – Cy O’Connor


TAFE WA – Great Southern


TAFE WA – Challenger


TAFE WA Central West


TAFE WA – West Coast


TAFE WA – Central


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