Understanding tertiary qualifications. What are tertiary qualifications? Are they important in writing your resume?

Within Australia, tertiary education refers to continuing studies after a student’s Higher School Certificate. It also refers to any education a student receives after final compulsory schooling, which occurs at the age of 17 within Australia. Tertiary education options include university, technical and further education or private universities.

So, what is a tertiary qualification?

Tertiary education generally culminates in the receipt of certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees. And this certificate, diploma, or academic degree is your tertiary qualification.

Certificate, Degree, Diploma, Bachelor, Honours, Masters are some examples of tertiary qualifications. It is important to know what each qualification means and what their differences are in order to identify what a prospective employer is looking for and use it to your advantage.

Below is a detailed discussion of each to help you in understanding tertiary qualifications:

CERTIFICATE COURSES
– usually granted by TAFE colleges, community education centres, private colleges and registered training organisations

Certificate I
– basic tertiary qualification after high school, gaining foundational knowledge and skills for initial work and/or further learning
– usually 4-6 months and generally does not require HSC completion

Certificate II
– developing knowledge and skills for a specific work and/or further study.
– usually 6-8 months

Certificate III
– developing factual, procedural, technical and theoretical knowledge and skills in a defined area of work. Greater depth of knowledge than Certificates I and II
– for people who are planning to change jobs or move out of entry-level roles
– usually 12 months

Certificate IV
– developing theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for work in a specialised or skilled area
– leads to further learning
– for people looking for roles with greater responsibility and complexity
– usually 18 months

Examples:
– Certificate II in Business at TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute
– Certificate III in Education Support at Open Colleges

UNDERGRADUATE vs GRADUATE / POSTGRADUATE DEGREES DIPLOMA
– specialised knowledge and skills for skilled work and/or further learning
Period: 1-2 years
Pre-requisite:
– depends on what and where the diploma is taken
– some may require holding a diploma at some university in order to study an undergraduate bachelor’s degree at the same time
– minimum requirements of other diplomas is Year 12 HSC, while others don’t require an ATAR

Example:
– Diploma of Language Studies at UNSW
– Western Sydney University Diploma Programs (do not require an ATAR)

ASSOCIATE DEGREE
– shorter undergraduate academic degree that upgrades competency and skills in a particular field, preparing you to enter into the workforce
– associate degrees can be taken at universities and TAFE

Period: 2 years
Pre-requisite: Year 12 or equivalent, Certificate III or Certificate IV
Example: Associate Degree in Business at RMIT

BACHELOR DEGREE AND BACHELOR DEGREE (HONOURS)
– standard university degree, basic qualification to enter a particular field/profession. You generally major in at least one area.
– considered as a higher qualification than an Associates Degree.
– You can apply to extend your bachelor degree by 1 year of honours study. Honours is an advanced study with a specialised focus related to your bachelor degree. Honours can lead to postgraduate study.

Period: 3-4 years (longer if you’re doing a combined double degree) – combined law degrees take 5 years or more
Prerequisite: Year 12 or equivalent, Certificate III or Certificate IV
Example:
– Bachelor of Science at USYD
– Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), at UNSW

GRADUATE CERTIFICATE AND GRADUATE DIPLOMA
– Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are for further study in a university after an undergraduate bachelor degree.
– A Graduate Certificate expands skills and knowledge from your undergraduate degree, or develops vocational (employment/occupation related) skills in a new industry.
– A Graduate Diploma is more specialised, vocationally-focused. It develops advanced skills and knowledge in a new industry.
– Generally leads to professional or highly-skilled jobs

Period: Certificate – 6 months / Diploma – 1 year
Prerequisite: Bachelor Degree (in some circumstances and at some universities, relevant work experience is sufficient)
Example:
– Graduate Certificate in Commerce at UNSW
– Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies, at UTS

MASTERS DEGREE
– the second highest qualifications you can earn in Australia
– Its objective is to enhance skills and knowledge in a specific area, consisting of independent research and/or course work.
– usually leads to professional practice and/or further research in a particular area

Period: 1-2 years
Prerequisite: Bachelor Degree or Bachelor Degree (Honours)
Example: Master of Psychology (Clinical) at ACU

DOCTORAL DEGREE OR DOCTORATE
– the highest qualification awarded by universities in Australia
– Professional Doctorate Degrees consist of research, coursework and sometimes professional work.
– usually involves completing a research project and thesis in a particular area
– Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a particular doctorate consisting of independent research in a specialised area, producing a written dissertation or portfolio of published works in the academic field.
– generally leads to further specialised research, professional practice or academic teaching

Period: At least 3 years
Prerequisite: Honours or Masters Degree
Example:
– Doctor of Business Administration at Charles Sturt University
– Doctor of Philosophy, at Macquarie University

Here is a flowchart to summarise all of the information mentioned above and guide you in understanding tertiary qualifications.

understanding tertiary qualifications

source: https://artofsmart.com.au/tertiary-qualifications/

(updated 2021)

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