Do I need a certificate, a diploma, or a degree?

Professional skills training is often necessary to get your start in any industry, though it can be daunting to pick the right course. With a myriad of programs and certification options out there, how do you find the best fit for your career goals?

Below, we break down the most common types of qualifications among job-seekers: certificates, diplomas, and degrees; the best choice for your specific career path, and how AIICT’s courses can get you started in the thriving, in-demand field of ICT.

The Australian Qualifications Framework

Before diving into the differences between certificate, diploma, and degree qualifications, it helps to firstly understand the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

Nationally Recognised TrainingThis system divides Australia’s nationally-recognised qualifications into ten levels, categorising them by complexity, difficulty, and the independent work required to achieve it. Each level also determines the potential soft/life skills a student will build; the type of work or further education it can lead to; the knowledge and skills they’ll gain, and how they can apply these in the “real world”.

Levels 1-4 encompass Certificate I to Certificate IV qualifications, level 5 represents diploma qualifications, and level 7 represents degree qualifications. The higher the number, the higher the skills and knowledge level the qualification provides.

Our following breakdown of these three course types will refer to the AQF’s measurement of skills, experience, employment value, and how challenging they may be to complete.

What are certificates?

Certificates are often considered “entry-level” qualifications, helping one gain the technical skills and knowledge to jumpstart their career in a chosen industry. Individuals can choose from four levels of certification – with the course content growing more in-depth and advanced the higher you go.

With Certificates I and II, students will typically acquire the basic practical skills necessary to get started in entry-level industry roles. Certificates III to IV build upon these skills through further, more complex training; while a Certificate IV can be considered the equivalent of six to 12 months of degree study.

The benefits of certificate qualifications

Study online with AIICTCertificates are popular among those looking for a taste of what their desired field has to offer. Due to their brevity (often taking less than year to complete), they’re a common choice for professionals seeking a quick boost in skills, knowledge, and industry experience.

These courses are also considered ideal starting points for those new to studying, as they offer valuable pathways to higher-level qualifications or degrees. Prior knowledge, training or education are typically not required.

Certificate programs are also helpful for getting one started with entry-level job roles in their industry. For example, the Australian Institute of ICT’s (AIICT) certificates in networking, web development, and general IT can help one snag starting opportunities as a help desk assistant, programmer, and network administrator in the tech field.

What are diplomas?

Diploma qualifications offer a more advanced look into one’s industry, helping students gain a deeper, theoretical understanding of their sector as well as more complex technical skills. Students undertaking these courses will often further exercise their critical thinking and analytical abilities, equipping them for more complicated workplace tasks and challenges.

As such, diplomas are ideal for those seeking progression (or a pay rise) in their current role, or those who wish to explore above-entry-level opportunities in a new field. In contrast to certificates, these qualifications can take between two and three years to complete, though offer more comprehensive training for your career goals.

The benefits of diploma qualifications

Diploma programs are valuable for those looking to specialise in their chosen field, or who simply wish to build on their basic skills. These courses focus on more technical tasks and theoretical concepts, arming you with a more well-rounded understanding of your industry. They can also train professionals to become more independent workers, helping them solve problems, tackle new challenges, and brainstorm new ideas more productively.

Diploma graduates are therefore more likely to land jobs requiring more complex skill and knowledge, rather than routine tasks. For instance, compared to AIICT’s ICT40120 – Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web Development), their ICT50220 – Diploma of Information Technology (Back End Web Development) explores the concepts, techniques, and principles of the field with greater detail; leading to higher-skilled (and more specialised) job roles such as a back-end web developer and a web application developer.

What are degrees?

Finally, degree qualifications are those commonly offered by universities, providing a far more intricate, thorough, and well-rounded exploration of one’s professional field.

These programs can take between three and four years of full-time study to complete, comprising in-depth theory, practical experience, and technical skills training. The enrolment process can be competitive (depending on the field), and may assess one’s prior education and industry experience.

Plenty of professional and “high-skilled” jobs have degrees as a basic requirement, or are preferable among employers. Certificates and diplomas are commonly used as pathways into a degree program, helping one build the skillset and confidence to commit to years of further, more in-depth training.

The benefits of a degree

Australian Institute Of ICTThe comprehensive training a degree provides can help build one the sharp, competitive, and up-to-date expertise they need for the workplace. Compared to certificate and diploma qualifications, these programs delve further into the concepts and technicalities of one’s field, helping them stand out in the job market upon completion. However, in contrast to the previous qualification levels, degrees often take the longest (and are typically the most challenging) to achieve.

Some degrees may also offer “course credit” to those who complete a diploma or certificate. These allow students skip ahead in their degree program due to previous training and experience, helping them accelerate their studies.

With a longer, more in-depth training program, degrees can also help one expand their industry network. Students are likely to find greater opportunities to collaborate and work with others, allowing them to build their professional contacts for the future.

Get certified for an exciting career in ICT!

Consider yourself an aspiring techie – or simply looking to build your skills for the digital world?

As mentioned, AIICT offers a wide range of certificate and diploma programs across Australia’s most in-demand tech fields; including cyber security, cloud computing, and web development. Get the training you need to pursue further tertiary education, or to get started with entry-level roles in the job market.

Alongside diplomas and certificates, we also offer shorter “boot camp programs” in areas of data science, project management, growth marketing, and more – helping those strapped for time gain the quick boost in skills they need.

Best of all, each course is delivered online, giving you the freedom to train around your personal needs and schedule.

Join an ever-expanding field of innovation and lucrative opportunity, and enquire with us on a course today.

AIICT offers a wide range of courses:

ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security)
ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Back End Web Development)
ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Networking)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web Development)
ICT40120 Certificate IV in Information Technology (Systems Administration Support)
ICT30120 Certificate III in Information Technology

Certified Project Management Professional
Certified Full Stack Developer
Certified Artificial Intelligence Professional
Certified Cyber Security Professional
Certified Data Science Professional
Cloud Computing Certified Professional
Growth Marketing Professional