It’s commonly understood that you need a bachelor’s degree or higher to work in science, technology and IT, but that’s not necessarily true. In fact there are numerous VET courses that can provide practical training to get your foot in the door for a stable and rewarding career in these industries.

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 niche career aspirations. Whether it’s designing an app, testing food safety in a lab or studying weather patterns at the Bureau of Meteorology, there are plenty of pathways in these sectors that can be pursued as a long term, stable career.

This is where VET comes in: VET courses provide the opportunity to work up from an entry level role, such as a lab assistant, into something more high-tier, such as a technician, web developer or engineer. Essentially, there’s a lot of room for career progression in these sectors.

Universities offer bachelor’s degrees in science and tech but VET courses tend to be more specified to a particular job title. 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 3- to 4-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 Information, Digital Media and Technology (Entry Level)

This course is designed to provide graduates with an introductory knowledge of IT to work in a range of different industries. It’s a 6-month, entry-level program that covers commercial computing, basic problem solving techniques and interactive online content. Over 86% of those who complete the course are satisfied with it and it’s expected that there will be between 25,000 and 50,000 job openings in the industry within the next 5 years.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Certificate IV in Food Science and Technology (Trade Level)

This course is all about the science and safety of food. It’s a year-long program that could see you working as a food technologist, a quality systems coordinator or an environmental officer in food processing. More than 84% of graduates are satisfied with this course and almost 60% received job-related benefits from the training.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Diploma of Laboratory Technology (Advanced Level)

This course covers the intricacies of scientific-technical testing. It’s an advanced level, 18-month program that is designed to lead to a whole range of roles working with senior technical staff, laboratory managers and medical professionals. Almost 90% of graduates are satisfied with the course and the median salary is roughly $40k a year.

See stats and outcomes.

What are the career outcomes?

The job titles associated with tourism and hospitality are many and far reaching.

App developer, lab technician, biochemist, chemical engineer, chemical technician, climate data analyst, clinical data research, computer systems manager, pharmacy assistant, computer programmer, computing consultant, computer systems manager, environmental data analyst, front end developer, forensic chemist, health research assistant, immunology scientist, IT systems administrator, IT support staff, intranet specialist, intranet support, laboratory assistant, laboratory technician, medical communications director, medical scientist, molecular biologist, organic lab research assistant, programmer, pharmaceutical assistant, pharmaceutical technician, pharmacy assistant, public health specialist, quality control supervisor, research assistant, research chemist, research technician, research scientist, satellite data analyst, science technician, scientific programmer, scientific writer, software developer, software engineer, statistician, stem cell researcher, structural biologist, systems analyst, technical writer, technology research analyst, toxicologist, web developer.

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

If you’re keen on getting into this industry, head here to check out James’ story. James is completing the third and final year of his Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology and is acing it in his industry so he’s definitely worth checking out.