Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in science offer many practical learning opportunities and are often more applied than science degrees from the higher education sector. The most common science courses offered in the VET sector throughout Australia are certificates and diplomas in laboratory skills, laboratory techniques and laboratory technology, which equip students for employment as technical officers or lab technicians in a range of science-based industries. There are also many specialised course options that lead to more specific careers, including animal technology, biotechnology, environmental monitoring and technology, food science and technology, forensic testing, geoscience, health science and pathology, among others. VET qualifications in science aim to develop high-level technical skills and sound scientific knowledge, and work experience is included in many of the courses. VET qualifications in science can also be used as a pathway into science degrees in the higher education sector, which may be required for more senior scientific and research positions.
Applicants must meet academic and English language entry requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some VET courses in science require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school or relevant laboratory experience. For more information about VET qualifications and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.
Where to study
VET qualifications in science are offered at both metropolitan and regional campuses throughout Australia. You will find courses offered at TAFE institutes, universities with TAFE departments and some private colleges.
Your choice of course will depend on your area of interest and your career goals. If you are unsure about which area of science you are interested in, you might consider a general science course (laboratory technology, for example). If you know the scientific area that interests you, you may wish to select one of the more specific courses (pathology or biotechnology, for example).
Since practical experience is an important aspect of many of the courses in this field, it is important to check that the courses and institutions you are considering have good facilities and provide access to the latest equipment and techniques. The best courses should also have good contacts with industry and employers and be able to assist students to find work experience placements.