What qualifications and requirements are needed?

The right qualification proves you have the right knowledge and skills – and makes you more employable.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) requires students to meet their standards and the educational institutions offering the courses meet them too.  It is the AQF’s job to make sure that the education you pay for meets the benchmark set by the profession you will be entering. Qualifications can take a while to complete, but if courses are good then they help workers to feel confident and safe in their work.

If you are in high school, you might be working towards your Higher School Certificate (HSC). A HSC can give you an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which you can use to apply to get into university and study to be anything from a doctor or sculptor to a linguist or an archaeologist.

For a more practical qualification such as beauty therapy or animal care you might start a Certificate I or II at high school. If you are planning to do a trade such as cabinetmaking or plumbing, you might start with a traineeship or apprenticeship, which combine paid work and study, usually at a TAFE institution or CIT in the ACT.

To enter into one of the skilled professions, such as nursing, architecture or engineering or something that involves a lot of research, like psychology, your best option is university. The first qualification you can obtain at university is a bachelor degree. Once you are qualified in your field, you might decide to do a masters or a doctoral degree.

Many institutions have admission requirements that you need to meet before you are eligible for a course. The admission requirements are there to make sure you have the best foundations for success when you embark on a course of study.


Many courses have specific requirements or ‘prerequisites’ that are related to studying particular topics. For example, to get into an engineering degree the study of mathematics is a prerequisite. This means you must have studied maths to receive an offer to study a Bachelor of Engineering course.

Assumed knowledge

Assumed knowledge can also be a requirement for a course. To study visual communication, for example, it is assumed that you have studied or worked in the area of visual arts or design and have some knowledge of these areas, but is not compulsory.

Recommended studies

Recommended studies means it is recommended that you study a particular subject before you take on a course. For example, it’s recommended you study biology or chemistry at school before you study nursing. However, they are not compulsory.

Additional selection criteria

Some courses, especially creative courses in art, music or performance studies, may have requirements known as additional selection criteria. These can include presenting a portfolio of your work, attending an interview or audition, or completing a questionnaire or test. These additional requirements can be considered either instead of or together with your ATAR.

How to work out what is required

If the course you are interested in has any admission selection criteria or course requirements, these will be outlined in the description of the course. The easiest way to check the course description is to look on the institution’s website.