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Should I study a Cert I, II, III, IV or Diploma? I'm confused!

This article appears in:
Future and Focus, Vocational Education and Training

Do I study a Certificate I, II, III, IV or Diploma? What’s the difference? How do I know which one is right for me? Do I have start at the beginning or can I skip a few levels? These are the questions you face if you’re thinking about studying a vocational education and training course. Read on as we break it down and simplify your options.

If you’re just starting out or changing careers


If you’re just starting out with studies, haven’t studied for a long time, or need a very basic introduction to a new field, a Certificate I or Certificate II may be a good start.

A Certificate I covers the basic skills for moving into new industry and is often a starting point for high school students or those moving into a completely different industry. For example, a Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management will teach you basic skills in working safely and supporting natural area conservation.

A  Certificate II is an introductory-level course teaches you more industry-specific skills than a Certificate I and prepares you to perform routine work. It can be a stepping stone to further study or a great way to add value your CV and demonstrate commitment.

Browse Certificates I and II by study area

If you want to move beyond an entry-level role or expand your skill set


A Certificate III can help you learn and consolidate skills for a particular career, by teaching you job-specific skills. The qualification is designed to help you progress from an entry-level role and get started on your career journey.

You may already hold a Certificate I or II in the field, or have work experience under your belt and be ready to take the next step.

For example, if you’ve been working in the building industry and want to become a carpenter, you may study a Certificate III in Carpentry. Or, you may want to consolidate your customer services skills with a Certificate III in Retail to make you a stronger candidate for a senior sales assistant role. 

Browse Certificates III study area

If you’re working towards a management or supervisory role or want to specialise in your industry

A Certificate IV or Diploma is the highest level of vocational education and training, and can be a good way to hone your technical, problem solving and decision making skills.

These are more in-depth qualifications than a Certificate III and are designed to prepare you for supervisory positions or specialist roles (for example, a Diploma of Nursing can qualify you as an Enrolled Nurse) or supervisory positions. Depending on your course, there may be an on-the-job component. 

Both qualifications are a pathway to a Bachelor’s degree and, depending your circumstances, you may even be able to transfer credits to your degree and get a head start.

Browse Certificates IV and Diplomas study area

Your next step is to find the right course. Browse CDU VET’s Certificates and Diplomas by study area. If you need some help choosing, get in touch with our team today. We’re here to help! 

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This article appears in:
Future and Focus, Vocational Education and Training

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