There is a wide range of Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses available in the health services field, including certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas. Courses train graduates to support health professionals such as nurses, optometrists, dietitians and pharmacists. There are some general VET qualifications that train graduates to work in a range of healthcare settings, including courses in allied health assistance, health services assistance and health support services. Other qualifications prepare graduates to work in specialised roles, including courses in anaesthetic technology, home and community care, mental health, nutrition and dietetic assistance, pathology, pharmacy support, optical technology and remedial massage.
In addition, there are VET courses in the health services field that prepare graduates to work in administrative roles in the healthcare field, such as work health and safety, health administration and population health. Natural therapies courses are also available, which include disciplines such as aromatherapy, homoeopathy, reflexology, naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.
Generally, VET qualifications are more practical than degrees in the higher education sector. If you are looking for a course with an academic focus or want to enter a more senior role, you may consider studying in the higher education sector. VET qualifications can provide a good pathway into undergraduate health services degrees.
Rehabilitation, like a number of other professional fields, is only taught at undergraduate or postgraduate degree level, but VET courses in health services can be a very good pathway into the field. See Undergraduate study in health services and rehabilitation for more information.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. For more information about VET courses and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.
Where to study
VET courses in health services can be studied at TAFE institutes, private colleges and universities with a TAFE department. Some private colleges even have a special focus on the health services field. If you are thinking about progressing to an undergraduate health degree after completing a VET qualification, enquire with institutions about their pathway schemes to see whether you will be awarded credit for your studies.
The course you choose will usually depend on your particular interests within the healthcare field, such as whether you would like to gain a general set of skills (through a certificate III in health services support, for example) or skills that are related to a particular type of work (such as a certificate IV in optical technology). You might also consider whether you are interested in mainstream or alternative health care.
The facilities and equipment offered by institutions are particularly important, so we recommend doing your research. In the practical disciplines, look for work experience opportunities (such as clinical placements and on-campus clinics that allow you to practise treating patients).