TAFE (IPA: /teɪf/) stands for Technical and Further Education. Offered by government-run organisations in Australia, the TAFE courses provide practical, industry-relevant skills required to thrive in the workplace. TAFE can be opted for after high school in vocational areas like accounting, IT, business, childcare, beauty, and many more.
This way, TAFE graduates are prepared to step straight into the workforce. These courses are a cheaper, quicker and more practical way to learn career-relevant skills.
Universities and TAFE (or VET) institutes both offer tertiary education. Nonetheless, TAFE programmes typically offer practical or “focused” knowledge for a given field or sector. University courses frequently include more theoretical material, autonomous learning, and research.
Depending on your employment choice, earning a TAFE certificate might be more expedient and less expensive than going to university.
TAFE courses ensure Easy Entry Requirements
TAFE courses are flexible as they can be studied full-time, part-time, on-campus or online.
TAFE courses are affordable, thanks to the government funding program to make higher education accessible, irrespective of your budget or income.
TAFE courses can be used as pathways to undergraduate programs, meaning that you can reduce the period of undergraduate study by up to a year.
TAFE courses can support your hobby.
While opting for any TAFE course can help you with your career, it is always important to consider certain factors so that you can get familiar with the ins and outs of the course you are looking to opt for.
The first step in choosing a TAFE course is to identify your goals and interests.
What industry are you interested in? What kind of job do you want to have in the future? Do you want to gain a specific skill set, or do you want to explore a range of topics?
Once you have a clear understanding of your goals and interests, you can choose from the TAFE courses that align with them. For example, if you’re interested in healthcare, you could look at TAFE courses in nursing, aged care, or disability support.
Opting for any TAFE course is an important decision. So don’t hesitate to take your time to decide the right one for you.
Most candidates take a gap year after finishing school, especially if they are not sure what they want to pursue next. In the case of TAFE, you don’t need to take a gap year. Just a gap of three months should be enough to ponder over what course interests you.
TAFE courses are known for their flexibility.
They are available in a variety of formats such as part-time courses, full-time courses and hybrid (a mix of both). Moreover, there are online courses for people living remotely or who want to balance their work, study and other commitments.
TAFE semester courses are designed based on their predetermined dates, including exam dates, starting dates, assignment dates, closing dates, etc. Generally, on-campus courses are semester based, but not all online TAFE courses are. Also, keep in mind that semesters vary based on region and institute. For example, TAFE courses in Victoria might not be available at the same time as those in Queensland.
Online TAFE courses are available at many brick-and-mortar institutions. However, the online study might not suit all courses.
In this scenario, you can look for any TAFE institution offering hybrid courses letting you attend a certain number of tutorials or lecture hours per study unit or course.
TAFE short courses are a versatile and practical way to gain knowledge and skills across a range of subjects. They serve a multitude of purposes, catering to the needs of different individuals at various stages of their careers.
For beginners, TAFE short courses can provide an excellent introduction to specific applications, such as Microsoft Word. These introductory courses offer a solid foundation that can be built upon with intermediate and advanced courses, allowing individuals to improve their skills and knowledge in a particular area.
What’s great about TAFE short courses is their flexibility. They vary in duration, ranging from half-day to six weeks, and can be scheduled to fit in with busy lifestyles. This makes them an ideal option for those who want to upskill, but have limited time to commit to longer courses.
TAFE courses can be a cost-effective way to gain skills and knowledge in your chosen industry, but it’s still important to consider the cost when choosing a course.
The fees vary based on the qualification level, the number of contact hours, and your eligibility for a government-subsidised seat.
Certain states, such as Victoria, offer programs where the government funds your training. The Government of Australia provides VET Student Loans to help eligible students pursuing approved diploma courses or higher pay their tuition fees.
The repayment of the loan is determined by your income, so you commence paying off the loan only when your earnings exceed the minimum repayment threshold.
It is equally important to determine which career pathways your chosen courses can lead to.
At the Career Progress database, we have linked courses with job descriptions and potential career options so that you can get familiar with a range of occupations for which that course can serve as the base qualification.
Each job description comes with information on the typically required skill set for the role, typical job activities, and work environment, and the types of qualifications you would need to land that job.
Just because you have chosen a particular course, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it forever. One of the big positives of doing TAFE is that you don’t require an ATAR to get enrolled on a course. But once you complete your TAFE course, you will get an ATAR-equivalent score that can be used as a pathway to university if you are planning to undertake further study.
If you’re considering TAFE as your next step in education, you may be wondering which location in Australia is best for you. Here are some of the top locations to do TAFE in Australia:
TAFE courses and RTO courses from various Australian regions. Select a region to find out more.
Fee-free TAFE courses, as the name suggests, are courses that are funded by the government. To put it simply, they are subsidised courses, meaning that you will be charged with little to no fee. Subsidised TAFE courses are provided across Australia in almost every field such as healthcare, community, business, hospitality, etc. Although these courses are government funded, you will get the same quality of training and education as with the paid courses. With fewer course fees, you are more likely to focus on your studies, rather than being troubled by your finances.
Many subsidised TAFE courses are at a Diploma level or above. However, if you are looking to get your Certificate Level course funded, there are many options such as Government incentives and loan programs. Since they may vary based on the state, make sure to check them out at the Government’s MySkills website.
The government funding options vary from state to state such as:
NSW Smart and Skilled
The Smart and Skilled scheme introduced by NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) System provides subsidised training opportunities for eligible students. The subsidy is available for courses up to and including Certificate III level, as well as selected priority areas for Certificate IV, Diploma, and Advanced Diploma qualifications.
This initiative aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workforce and contribute to the economic development of NSW.
Certificate 3 Guarantee (QLD)
The Certificate III Guarantee is a program in Queensland that lets eligible individuals attain their first Certificate III qualification in selected priority areas.
The program also focuses on supporting students who need to develop foundational skills, such as language, literacy, and numeracy, before commencing their Certificate III course. The Certificate I and II qualifications that lead to Certificate III are also included in the program, making it easier for individuals to build up their skills and progress to higher-level qualifications.
Skilling South Australia (SA)
This Vocational Education and Training (VET) initiative offers a range of benefits, including funding for training, employment, and skills development.
Higher Level Skills (QLD)
The Higher Level Skills program in Queensland provides individuals with the chance to pursue a subsidised qualification at Certificate IV level or higher in targeted priority areas, aimed at enhancing their employment prospects and career progression.
Jobs and Skills (WA)
The Western Australian Jobs and Skills program is a government-funded initiative aimed at providing specialized training to equip individuals with the skills required to meet the current and future demands of the job market. The program offers government-subsidized training to eligible participants in State Priority areas of Western Australia, comprising 150 qualifications and numerous traineeships.
ACT Australian Apprenticeships (User Choice)
The Australian Apprenticeships (User Choice) program in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is a national policy scheme that supports the allocation of funding to Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). This initiative aims to promote Vocational Education and Training (VET) in meeting the demands of both the workforce and the industry. Under the User Choice program, funding is provided directly to the relevant RTOs.
Skilled Capital (ACT)
Skilled Capital is an innovative funding scheme launched by the ACT Government to provide Australian citizens residing in Canberra with an opportunity to acquire the essential training and expertise required to thrive in the ever-evolving job market. This initiative aims to future-proof the Australian workforce by developing the necessary skills in targeted industry areas that are in high demand. The initiative offers a broad range of training opportunities in various industry sectors, including business, construction, and health.
Free TAFE (Victoria):
Counted among one of the largest programs to finance education in Australia, Free TAFE offers a range of financial incentives and support to TAFE students in Victoria. This program offers over 70 free TAFE programs. Moreover, Free TAFE lets you pursue more than one Free TAFE course within the same occupational pathway. For example, you can pursue Certificate III, Certificate IV and Diploma within the same pathway without paying tuition fees.
Australian citizens or permanent residents who are over 15 years old are eligible for government-funded education and training courses. The primary aim of this funding is to provide job seekers with the necessary skills and qualifications to enter or re-enter the workforce, but it is also available to employed individuals seeking to upskill or reskill.
The funding for the courses varies depending on the course, qualification level, and the provider. Some courses may have full course fees covered, while others may be partially subsidised, and some may require only an enrolment fee. It is important to note that eligibility requirements may differ from state to state, and it is advisable to contact the relevant authorities to learn about the variations in government-funded training in different regions, such as Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and so on.
VET Student Loan Program
Australian Apprenticeships Incentive Scheme
Productivity Places Program
Investing in Experience
*Please note that these are popular categories, and may contain both TAFE and private RTO courses.
Aged Care Courses
Alcohol & Drugs Courses
Allied Health Assistant Courses
Animal Studies Courses
Artificial Intelligence Courses
Beauty Therapy Courses
Building Construction Courses
Business Administration Courses
Business Leadership Courses
Business Management Courses
Child Care Courses
Community Services Courses
Cyber Security Courses
Data Science Courses
Dental Assistant Courses
Early Childhood Education Courses
Education Support Courses
Graphic Design Courses
Health Administration Courses
HR: Human Resources Courses
Individual Support Courses
Interior Design Courses
Machine Learning Courses
Medical Receptionist Courses
Mental Health Courses
Occupational Therapy Courses
Personal Training Courses
Practice Management Courses
Project Management Courses
Real Estate Courses
Social Media Courses
Speech Pathology Courses
Training & Assessment Courses
Travel & Tourism Courses
Work Health & Safety Courses
Youth Work Courses
With TAFE, students have a range of study methods to choose from depending on their preferences and lifestyle.
Each study method has its unique advantages, and choosing the right one for you can make all the difference in achieving your educational goals.
The first and perhaps most traditional study method for TAFE is on-campus learning. This involves attending classes and lectures at a TAFE campus. Students have access to facilities such as libraries, computer labs, and workshops, as well as interaction with instructors and peers. On-campus learning is ideal for students who enjoy face-to-face interaction with their instructors and peers, and who want to take advantage of the facilities and resources offered by the campus.
Additionally, on-campus learning provides a structured and disciplined approach to learning, which can be beneficial for some students who may struggle with self-motivation or require additional support.
Blended learning is a relatively new study method that combines on-campus and online learning. This approach provides students with the best of both worlds, as they can attend classes on-campus and interact with their instructors and peers, while also accessing course materials and other resources online.
Blended learning is an excellent option for students who are looking for flexibility in their learning, as they can work on course materials and assignments online at their own pace.
Blended learning is also ideal for students who live far away from a TAFE campus or have other commitments that prevent them from attending classes on campus.
Online learning is ideal for students who have busy schedules and need to study at their own pace. It is also a great option for students who live in remote areas or who may have mobility issues that prevent them from attending classes on campus.
Workplace learning is a study method that involves learning on the job in a real-world setting. Students receive training and supervision from their employer, and their progress is assessed by a TAFE assessor.
Workplace learning is ideal for students who want to gain practical experience in their chosen field while studying. It also provides students with the opportunity to build professional networks and gain valuable industry insights. Workplace learning is typically suited to students who are already working or have secured employment in their chosen field.
Apprenticeships are a study method that is specifically designed for trades and skilled professions. It involves a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning, to develop practical skills. Students are typically employed by a company and receive a wage while they study. Apprenticeships are ideal for students who are looking to gain hands-on experience in a particular trade or profession. They are also a great option for students who may not have academic qualifications but have a strong interest in a particular field.
Traineeships are similar to apprenticeships but are typically focused on non-trade occupations. They typically involve on-the-job training and classroom learning, to develop practical skills in a particular field. Students are typically employed by a company and receive a wage while they study. Traineeships are ideal for students who are looking to gain practical experience in a particular field but do not necessarily want to pursue a trade or skilled profession.
Certificate-level courses are ideal for those who are looking to gain foundational knowledge and skills in a particular field or industry. These courses typically range from six months to a year and cover a range of subjects, from business and finance to construction and hospitality.
One of the key benefits of certificate-level courses in TAFE is the hands-on, practical nature of the training. Many courses involve a combination of classroom-based learning and on-the-job training, allowing students to develop real-world skills and experience that can be applied directly in the workplace.
Certificate-level courses in TAFE are also highly regarded by employers. Many TAFE courses have industry-specific accreditation and are developed in consultation with employers to ensure that graduates are job-ready and have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workforce.
Certificate I is an introductory-level qualification that provides learners with the basic knowledge and skills required for entry-level work or further study. It is typically designed for those who have had little or no prior training in the area.
Certificate II is the next level qualification that builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in Certificate I. It is designed for those who are seeking to develop skills in a particular area or industry and are interested in entry-level positions.
Certificate III is a more advanced qualification that builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in Certificate II. It is typically designed for those who are seeking to gain employment in a specific trade or occupation or wish to continue their studies at a higher level.
Certificate IV is the highest level of certificate qualification and is designed to provide learners with advanced skills and knowledge in a particular area of study. It is typically designed for those who are seeking to gain employment in a higher-level role or wish to further their education at a tertiary level. Certificate IV may also provide a pathway to further study at a diploma or degree level.
Diplomas in TAFE are particularly useful for those seeking to gain higher-level qualifications in specific areas of study.
Unlike a university degree, a Diploma course is more focused on practical training and work experience, making it an excellent choice for individuals who want to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field.
TAFE offers a range of Diploma courses across various industries, including business, healthcare, community services, information technology, and creative arts. Some courses are designed to prepare students for entry-level roles, while others offer a pathway to further study, such as a Bachelor’s degree.
Advanced diplomas are a step up from diplomas and provide students with advanced knowledge and skills in their chosen field.
These courses typically take 18 to 24 months to complete, and they can be completed full-time or part-time, depending on the student’s availability. They are designed for students who already have a basic understanding of their chosen field and wish to further their studies to become an expert in their area.
One of the key benefits of studying for an advanced diploma at TAFE is the practical nature of the courses. Students gain hands-on experience in their chosen field, and the coursework is designed to give them the skills and knowledge required to excel in their chosen industry. The course content is regularly updated to reflect changes in the industry, ensuring that students receive the latest training.
With a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma course, you can learn the skills and knowledge to take on management or supervisory roles or become an expert in a particular area. The length of Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma courses at TAFE varies depending on the course and study mode. A Graduate Certificate course typically takes between 0.5 and 1 year to complete based on the full-time study, while a Graduate Diploma course takes between 1 to 2 years based on full-time study.
Understanding the different TAFE qualifications can be overwhelming for prospective students, especially when faced with options such as Certificate III, Certificate IV, Diploma, and Degree.
However, having a clear understanding of these qualifications is crucial for potential students, job seekers, parents, career advisors, and employers alike. By understanding the correlation between qualification levels and job positions, students can choose the right level of training for their career goals.
The Certificate II qualification is designed for trainees, while a Certificate III is suitable for a competent, self-managed employee. On the other hand, Certificate IV is geared towards a supervisory role. Diploma, Advanced Diploma, or Degree qualifications are intended for positions in management.
It is important to note that not everyone will start at the lowest qualification level.
TAFE courses allow students to upscale by going from Certificate II to III, to Certificate IV, and then to a Diploma or higher level of training. Before commencing a course, TAFE teachers can assess a student’s abilities based on their previous studies, work experience, and life experience. This assessment, called Recognition of Prior Learning, helps students determine the most suitable level of training for them.
Understanding TAFE qualifications and their levels is essential for choosing the right course of study and advancing in one’s career.
Make sure to check the guidelines associated with the qualifications.
Entry requirements can vary depending on the specific course and level of study. Some courses may have mandatory entry requirements, while others may have recommended prerequisites or prior knowledge.
It’s important to check with your preferred TAFE training provider to ensure you meet the entry requirements before applying for a course. This will help avoid any disappointment or delays in starting your studies.