To work in health care, you don’t necessarily need to spend seven years at university studying to become a doctor or four years to be a nurse. There’s actually a whole range of health and social services jobs, including mental health care, work health, and safety and health research, which can be attained via a VET qualification.

What is VET?

VET stands for Vocational Education and Training, which is an education pathway that’s focused on gaining practical skills and providing you with a nationally-recognised qualification, ranging from a Certificate I to Certificate IV, to a Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate.

A VET course is similar to a university degree in that you spend a chunk of your time getting qualified for a real-world career, but it’s generally shorter, less theoretical and more hands-on, and more work-focused. You can complete a VET course at TAFE or another registered training organisation (RTO). Statistically, those who complete a VET course, have higher rates of employment and, on average, get paid slightly better than university graduates.

Why is VET relevant to the industry?

VET courses offer a whole bunch of very specific training for those with health and social services career aspirations that stray from the standard doctor/nurse role. Whether it’s researching public policy for local government, implementing work health and safety protocols or drug and alcohol counselling, there are plenty of roles to pursue as a long term, stable career.

While university is the more commonly understood pathway into the industry, VET courses tend to be more specified to a particular job title, which means they are likely to provide good career results at the end. VET courses also tend to have more variety in length, taking anywhere from a couple of weeks to four years for an apprenticeship. In considering VET, you want to ask yourself how long it will take, how much it will cost, how practical it is and the employment outcomes afterwards.

What are some courses that I can do?

One of the most appealing parts of VET is that the courses are generally shorter and cheaper than a bachelor’s degree. Rather than doing a 7-year degree, the tendency is to do a short course in order to get qualified and then learn more while on the job. As you progress through your career, you can then upskill with more VET training. Alternatively, many people turn to a VET course before or after they’ve completed a university degree in order to enhance their skills and gain more practical experience. Here are a few examples of training courses, from entry level to advanced:

  • Certificate II in Community Health Research (Entry Level)

This course takes a holistic approach to health and looks at how it plays out across the whole community. It’s an entry-level program that provides an introduction and an entry point to the sector. More than 85% of graduates are satisfied with this course but it’s more likely to lead to further training than an immediate job in the industry.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Trade Level)

This course trains students to provide support to health care professionals in the therapeutic elements of the allied health. The course take one year to complete and once you’re qualified, you might work in a specialty area or work generally across the organisation in delivering allied health assistance services. The job prospects from this course are solid, with more than 50,000 job openings over the next 5 years.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Diploma of Mental Health (Advanced Level) 

This course is designed to qualify graduates to work in the mental health sector, in the areas of counselling, referral, advocacy, and education. It’s a year-long program that could see you working as a mental health professional across a whole range of different roles. Over 82% of those who complete the course are satisfied with it and 57% receive job related benefits from training.

See stats and outcomes.

What are the career outcomes?

The job titles associated with health and social services are many and far reaching. Here are a couple of examples to kick start your imagination:

Community health worker, community health researcher, community health advocate, community health educator, health support worker, mental health practitioner, allied health assistant, health administrator, workplace health and safety officer, health admin worker, health lobbyist, public health advocate.

For more info on courses and career paths, check out the My Skills website.

If you’re keen on getting into Health and Social Services through VET, you should check out Madeline’s story here. As a soon to be registered nurse, she knows how valuable VET can be in getting a career in an industry you love- she’s definitely worth checking out.