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Do I need a certificate, diploma or bachelor’s degree?

By Ben Madden

When completing higher education, it can be difficult to work out what type of qualification you want to complete. Certificates, diplomas and bachelor’s degrees are all great ways to progress your career, and each can be beneficial depending on what your next career move is set to look like. 

We’ve taken a look at how you can decide between the three, and the benefits of each one. 

Further study is always a great option, but it’s important to know what the outcomes of each one may look like! 

What are the differences between a certificate, diploma and bachelor’s degree?

Certificates, diplomas and bachelor’s degrees are all great qualifications, and choosing one comes down to what career path you’re looking to take, and when you want to complete your study. 

Certificates and diplomas are usually practical qualifications and are likely to get you job-ready sooner, while bachelor’s degrees provide you with both practical and theoretical knowledge which can be applicable in a wide variety of contexts.

Certificates/diplomas can take anywhere from 6-24 months, while bachelor’s degrees often take 3+ years to complete. What type of course you choose will also depend on whether you’re looking to make a quick career pivot or set yourself up for a lifetime in a certain industry. You can’t go wrong with any of the types of qualifications, so read on to find out which one might best fit your situation.

woman studying at home


What are the benefits of pursuing a certificate?

If you’re looking for a career change, or you want to upskill, then a certificate might just suit you. They take less time than a degree, and will give you practical, job-ready skills that you can implement as soon as your course finishes.

Are there any entry requirements for a certificate?

While the entry requirements for certificates will vary by course, they usually require completion of Year 10 or equivalent, with some more advanced certificates requiring a higher level of secondary education.

How long does it take to complete?

A certificate can take anywhere from six months to two years, depending on what course you’re completing, and whether it’s a Certificate III/IV or a Certificate I/II. You can complete most certificates in a year or less.


What are the benefits of pursuing a diploma?

A diploma is a great way to help improve your problem-solving skills, as well as your communication abilities. It’s designed to provide you with a range of skills in a particular role/industry, so you have a deeper understanding of your chosen field.

Are there any entry requirements for a diploma?

Diplomas, like bachelor’s degrees, will require the completion of Year 12 or equivalent. It’s always worth reaching out to the educational institution to find out more.

How long does it take to complete?

Diplomas usually take one to two years to complete, depending on what diploma you complete. 

Bachelor’s degree 

What are the benefits of a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a qualification that’s both applicable to the workplace, as well as a foundation for further study. If you’re someone that’s interested in specialising in a particular field and know that you’re in it for the long haul, then a bachelor’s degree may be for you.

Are there any entry requirements for a bachelor’s degree? 

The requirements for bachelor’s degrees can vary – some will require a certain score on your high school exams, while others may require the completion of a certificate/diploma. In some instances, you can use certificates and diplomas as pathways into a bachelor’s degree.

How long does it take to complete?

A bachelor’s degree typically takes three to four years to complete if you’re studying full-time, so it’s a fair time commitment – but if you’re looking for a deep understanding of your field, then it’s a great choice.

How to determine what qualifications you need 

man deep in thought

A great way to work out what qualifications you need to enter a certain industry is to reach out to people in your network that have the job/s you can see yourself working in one day. LinkedIn is a great place to find like-minded people in your dream industry, so you can get a sense of what steps you can be taking towards entering that industry and progressing up the career ladder.

It's also worthwhile reaching out to educational institutions and discussing your career options with them. There are career consultants available to help you get a clearer sense of what qualifications you’ll need, as well as ways you can gain valuable experience to separate yourself from the crowd.

What about short courses?

Short courses are a great way to upskill or make a quick pivot from your current industry. If you’re someone that’s looking for practical skills that you can take straight from the classroom to the workplace, then a short course may be your best option. 

Upskilled provides a range of online short courses on things like social media, administration & business, IT and marketing, which can help you decide what you’re interested in before going on to complete a certificate, diploma or bachelor’s degree.

Looking for a helping hand with your next career move?

Upskilled provides a range of certifications in all types of industries, so you can find the course that is right for you. You can find out more by visiting our website here. 

Get in touch with Upskilled’s education consultants on 1300 009 924 to speak about what type of qualification might be right for you!
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