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Rehabilitation is a field of study that prepares you for roles that are closely aligned with other health professions, particularly medicine. The type of role you go into depends on the qualification you obtain, as this determines whether you work at a paraprofessional or professional level.

Browse Rehabilitation courses by state

You should be aware that the mainstream health professions are increasingly being challenged by newer ‘natural’ therapies. See the health services and support profile for more information. If you're interested in this field, you should also consider courses in psychology, medicine, veterinary science and dentistry.

VET study in rehabilitation

Courses and specialisations

Like various other professional fields, such as medicine or pharmacy, courses in rehabilitation are largely restricted to universities and are offered at bachelor degree level and higher. There are a limited number of courses in this area, which cover fields such as audiometry and occupational health and safety assistance.

These courses prepare students for auxiliary roles in their associated niche health fields. It's worth looking into the health services and support field for more information.

Undergraduate study in rehabilitation

Courses and specialisations

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Audiology

  • Chiropractic

  • Occupational therapy

  • Optometry

  • Orthoptics

  • Physiotherapy

  • Podiatry

  • Speech pathology

Rehabilitation courses prepare you for occupations that are closely aligned with other health professions, particularly medicine. They are highly regulated and include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology.

You cannot practise unless you meet the very strict requirements set by the profession. This means that the courses within each field tend to be very similar no matter where you do them, although the sub-fields are very different from each other.

Courses in the rehabilitation professions typically involve four years of full-time study. Many involve practical placements, and considerable amounts of time may need to be spent in a clinical setting gaining hands-on experience. When considering your course options you may want to check out what each institution offers in the way of clinical facilities and placements.

A new degree structure, which has already been established in some fields at selected institutions, has the potential to become more popular in some areas of rehabilitation. The structure follows a US-style model, where undergraduates enter a general pre-professional degree (perhaps in science or applied science) and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in their professional area.

Where to study

Although rehabilitation is a sizeable field of study, these courses are still in fairly limited supply, meaning that, depending on where you live, you might have to be prepared to travel to take the course you want. These courses are usually only offered at universities, and demand for entry to these courses is high, making them tough to get into in some cases.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities

Graduates in this field can work in a broad range of settings in both public and private healthcare organisations. They may find themselves working in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, private practice, schools, mental health services, sports clinics, sporting teams or fitness centres. They may also work in government departments or universities in managerial or research positions.

According to the 2014 Course Experience Questionnaire survey, new graduates were very satisfied with their teachers, their overall course experience and the skills they gained. Employment prospects are very good, with 24 per cent of recent graduates still looking for work after four months. The average starting salary was also good, at $59,603.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in rehabilitation

Courses and specialisations

Almost all postgraduate rehabilitation programs are designed for those who are graduates or workers in related fields — osteopaths, podiatrists, speech pathologists and physiotherapists, for example. A small number are designed for graduates from related degrees who want to qualify in one of these niche health professions.

There are some graduate certificate and graduate diploma programs but the majority of coursework options in rehabilitation are offered at masters level. If, on the other hand, you are contemplating a research degree you are in the minority (14 per cent of students) and options in each state are limited. If you would like a program with a mix of coursework and research, you can choose a professional doctorate.

Where to study

Postgraduate rehabilitation courses are offered by a number of universities, but your options may be limited depending on where you live.

Since professions in this field are tightly regulated, the courses tend to be fairly similar between institutions and locations. That said, many courses in rehabilitation involve considerable amounts of time spent on practical work, so it may be worth ensuring that the course you’re considering offers good facilities and access to equipment.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities

According the the latest national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates of this field look favourably on their courses — rating their skill development five stars and the teaching quality and overall satisfaction four stars. Job prospects were good, with only 15 per cent of graduates still seeking work four months after graduation. Salaries, however, were below average, at $68,235 per year.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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