Study options to suit you

Kangan Institute Blog Study options: which is right for you?

Date: 23rd April 2018
Study options: which is right for you?

If you are considering further study or going back into education we understand it can be a daunting process. With so many TAFE courses, TAFE certificates, study options and often a bunch of jargon that doesn’t align with what you are looking for it can be a bit overwhelming.

So we have done some of the thinking for you and put together a few ideas worth considering when planning that next step to your dream career or passion.

So let’s start with the basics what is a qualification and how does that relate to different areas of study?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a qualification as “a condition that must be fulfilled before a right can be acquired.” From an education context, the “condition” can be a number of subjects (often referred to as “units of competency”).

These can be either mandatory, core subjects or unit electives and are chosen by the student – most qualifications consist of both. If your area of study has optional subjects you can be guided by your training institution or teacher to elect the ones that will closely relate to your chosen area of study.

So what is the difference between a TAFE Certificate and a diploma course?

With so many course options what is the difference between them?


Think of certificates as the building blocks for knowledge in a particular study area. TAFE courses range from Certificate I to IV – the higher the number the longer the TAFE course duration and/or detail of the qualification. TAFE certificates are the foundations of a TAFE course, that can provide you with a pathway to University.

As a rule, Certificate I and II require no prerequisites / prior learning and can be a refresher if you haven’t studied for a while or are new to studying. Certificates III and IV are much more comprehensive and often require some level of Secondary School completion (year 10 or above) or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

It is important to understand that some areas of study may not offer a certificate level TAFE course. It does, however, vary from subject to subject and between training providers

Casual employees vs apprentices

To Diploma or advanced diploma that is the question?

Completing a Diploma course often builds on from skills learnt at a certificate level. Whilst some Diploma courses such as our Advanced Diploma courses may require the Certificate III / IV / V having been completed first, some have the core certificate modules included as part of the diploma course structure.

The duration of a Diploma course usually ranges from 1 - 2 years and aims to provide a mix of theory and practical skills. An Advanced Diploma course is an extension of a Diploma, requiring a more comprehensive field of knowledge and practical application, and sits neatly between a Diploma and a University Degree.

Pathway Courses to University

University pathway courses are great if you are looking to transition gradually with your training, especially if you have other commitments such as work or family and require flexible study options. Whilst university pathway courses may seem like an indirect route to a Degree or further study they allow you to utilise completed qualifications as a “shortcut” to the next level. They can either be used as a substitute for Degree entry requirements (e.g. a completion of a Certificate instead of VCE or a Secondary School certificate) or course credits/Recognised Prior Learning (RPL). These pathway degree options will give you access to complete some course areas quickly – meaning you can get qualified faster!

Don’t forget any relevant work experience can often be used as an asset to your pathway degree options so make sure you have documented proof of your achievements and demonstrated skill set. This is essential to enter into any pathway courses to University.

Pre-apprentice and Apprenticeships

If you enjoy a more practical, and real-world approach to work and study an apprenticeship can be a great option for you to learn not only the practical skills but also the theory, in your chosen field. As a student, you will be able to start your career the moment you begin your apprenticeship. By learning in the workplace you will also be skilled on the job and be a paid worker. Being mentored by a qualified tradesperson you will also be supported by a network of businesses within the trade as well as some formal in-class learning. As your skills and knowledge increase your wages will also reflect the level and competency you have gained during your apprenticeship.

We understand that making a decision on training and further education can be daunting and a possibly expensive exercise. We have a great team at Kangan Institute who will be happy to discuss your options further. If you would like some advice please visit our Skills and Job Centre for a discussion, we offer career advice and tips and tricks for getting ahead during a workplace interview process plus guidance on TAFE course areas and flexible study options to help you take the next step.