While it’s true that you don’t always need qualifications to work in tourism and hospitality, there are a range of different VET courses that can provide practical training to get your foot in the door for a stable and rewarding career.

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 tour-guiding, cooking in a restaurant or getting qualified to be the captain of a boat. Hospitality and tourism jobs are often seen as casual and temporary but for those who are really passionate about it, there are plenty of pathways 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 dishwasher or cleaner, into something more high-tier, such as hotel manager, executive chef or business manager. Essentially, there’s a lot of room for career progression in tourism and hospo.

Universities offer bachelor’s degrees in international tourism and hospitality management 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- or 4-year degree, the tendency is to do a short cours e 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 Tourism (Entry Level)

This course is designed to qualify graduates to work with travel agencies, tour wholesalers, tour operators and cultural and heritage sites. It’s a 9-week, entry-level program that could see you working as a travel agent, a tour guide at an adventure tourism company or operating the rides at a theme park. Over 82% of those who complete the course are satisfied with it and 57% receive job related benefits from training.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Certificate IV in Hospitality (Trade Level)

This course is all about the intricacies of the service industry. It’s a year-long program that covers managerial skills, team management and customer service within hospitality jobs, such as hotels, restaurants, bars and catering companies. More than 84% of graduates are satisfied with this course and it’s expected that there will be between 5,000 and 10,000 job openings within this industry in the next 5 years.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management (Advanced Level)

This course is suited to those who’ve already got a fair bit of experience in hospitality and want to upgrade their training for a more managerial role. It’s an 18-month program that is designed to lead to a whole range of high-tier job titles, including hotel management, owning your own café or managing a commercial kitchen.

See stats and outcomes.

What are the career outcomes?

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

Here are a couple of examples to kick start your imagination:

Chef, cook, bartender, concierge, front desk clerk, tour guide, guest services officer, housekeeper, maintenance worker, marketing coordinator, porter, travel agent, valet parking attendant, hotel manager, event planner, event manager, promoter, public relations manager, catering staff, ski/snowboard instructor, deckhand, boat captain, waiter, dishwasher, restaurant manager, delivery driver, wine maker, barista, gambling attendant, dive master, surf teacher.

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

Keen to know more about tourism and hospitality? Rachelle knows all about it- she has an Advanced Diploma of Event Management and has landed a gig as Event Planning Coordinator (Administration and Small Events) at the Adelaide Convention Centre- so she’s definitely worth checking out.

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