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Study education and training courses in Australia

Field of Study: Education and Training Course Information

Due to the constant demand for teachers, education is often seen to be a ‘safe’ choice of occupation. This perception often overshadows the reality of what the job actually involves. Teaching can be very rewarding, but it is also incredibly challenging and requires a lot of hard work. Teachers may benefit from great holidays, but the reality is that they spend much of that time preparing class plans and writing reports.

Teachers affect people’s lives — whether positively or negatively — so the profession comes with a significant amount of responsibility. Working directly with children and young adults is the central focus of teachers, so if the thought of spending whole days with this demographic is not appealing, this is perhaps not the field of study or profession for you. Support for new teachers in the workforce is also topical. Many argue that increased funding and resources, such as professional development and mentoring, are needed for new graduates. The amount and type of support can vary greatly between employers.

Classroom teaching is not the only long-term career option in education. Some people choose to stay in the field and transfer to a different role (a school principal or university lecturer, for example), while others spend a few years in the profession and then move on. Another group take the opposite route, moving into teaching (whether in the school or tertiary sector) after years of working in a certain profession. Teachers may develop a range of skills that equip them for careers with employers ranging from large companies (educational publishers, for example) to government departments.

For more information about careers and education in this field, visit the Australian College of Educators, Australian Institution for Teaching and School Leadership and Australian Teacher Education Association websites.

Depending on your interests, courses in the following fields may also appeal: communications, health services and support, humanities and social sciences, psychology, sciences and social work.

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VET study in education and training

Courses, majors and specialisations in education and training

In the VET sector, you will find many courses that offer preparation for those who require language, literacy and numeracy or other skills in order to enter further education or work. These are known as ‘preparation’ courses. However, this field contains another group of VET qualifications that actually train students to work as educators, mostly offered at certificate III level and above. These are called ‘training’ courses.

You may come across the following specialisations:

Preparation courses

  • Adult tertiary preparation

  • Education studies

  • English for employment or further study

  • Industrial skills/work preparation

Training courses

  • Education support

  • Children's services

  • Teacher assistant

  • Training and assessment

  • Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Where to study education and training courses

Because this is such a large field of study, you will find that VET courses are available at TAFE institutes as well as private VET providers. Many courses follow national training packages, so there will little variety in how they are delivered or the specialisations they offer. That being said, it is worth conducting some research into each institution you consider. If you are completing a ‘training’ course, described above, it’s worth looking into each institution’s arrangements for practical experience as well as the facilities on offer (such as on-site childcare centres or mock activity rooms where students can get experience). Some institutions may even offer fast-track options if you have relevant employment.

If you are hoping to go onto higher-level study in the field — whether this means a higher-level VET qualification or a qualification from the higher education sector — it's worth investigating pathway options and credit arrangements. For example, a diploma in children’s services may give you a significant amount of credit if you continue on to a degree in early childhood or primary education.

Career opportunities in education and training field

VET graduates of this field are in two distinct groups and have equally distinct career outcomes. Some in this field are gaining foundation skills in order to undertake study in another area, while others are learning to become educators and trainers.

For the education and training graduates who plan to practise in the field of education, there are a number of career options. Most of these can be broadly described as teaching assistant or education aide roles. VET graduates in the education field are generally associates or assistants to qualified teachers, who must have a bachelor degree.

Education aides can develop skills to enable them to work in all areas of a school setting. However, they can also focus on a particular subject, perhaps providing support to students in information technology, or help with certain types of students (such as students with special needs). They will generally be employed in schools, but other community organisations might also require their services.

Apart from assistant roles, there are also courses in training and assessment that are designed for trainers who wish to deliver training in an industry area or area of subject matter expertise. These trainers tend to work as independent professionals, rather than as assistants to other teachers.

Undergraduate study in education and training

Courses, majors and specialisations in education and training

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

  • Aboriginal education

  • Adult education

  • Careers education

  • Early childhood education

  • Mathematics education

  • Outdoor education

  • Primary education

  • Secondary education

  • Special education

  • Vocational education

There is a lot on offer in this field. Most courses still lead into an area of school teaching that focuses on either a particular group of students (such as early childhood, primary or secondary), a particular subject (such as English, information technology or science) or a particular aspect of teaching (such as librarianship or special education). The best courses in the education field offer an engaging general education, looking at everything from philosophical issues to school structures, including within education systems in other countries.

Education is one of the biggest fields of study, and you can study an education course almost anywhere in the country. Some courses are also available part time and by online or distance education.

As far as specialisations go, expect to be blown away by what's on offer. Just some of the specialisations that are available include Aboriginal education, adult education, careers education, curriculum studies, early childhood education, education management, educational counselling, extension education, Montessori education, Rudolf Steiner education, special education, technical and further education, training and development, and vocational education. There are also specialisations in specific subject streams, such as physical education, drama, visual arts and languages.

The federal government’s push to revolutionise education has seen a number of changes to the education system, including the introduction of additional teachers in schools across the country and numerous scholarships to encourage students to take up teacher training. One example is the Science Graduate Scholarship — a Victorian Government initiative to fund graduate-entry teaching study for graduates of science degrees. In New South Wales, the Department of Education and Communities’ Graduate Recruitment Program grants students interim approval to teach in a temporary or casual capacity in their final year of study.

Nationally, the Teach for Australia initiative places top university graduates (from any discipline) into the classroom for at least two years to gain practical experience and earn a fast-tracked teaching qualification.

Following calls to boost teacher quality in Australian schools, new federal government regulations will see student teachers sit literacy and numeracy tests before they can graduate. Primary school teachers will also be pushed to choose a subject specialty, with priority placed on maths, science and languages.

Where to study education and training courses

Education courses are widely available at universities throughout the country, as well at some private providers. TAFE institutes are also beginning to offer degrees in the field, which may have more flexible entry requirements than similar courses at universities.

When considering a course, make sure that it meets the practical and subject requirements for registration in the state, sector and subject areas you wish to work in. Most states and territories have a body that regulates the qualifications and experience required to be a teacher, although a national standards framework and registration process is being implemented by the states and territories. Independent and Catholic school systems fall under the same registration system, but have additional administrative bodies. When choosing a specialisation and subjects, keep an eye on future options and the possibility of postgraduate or specialist study.

Some universities do a good job of preparing students for the practical realities of the classroom, while some are more theory based. Use course handbooks and subject descriptions to check out the kinds of courses on offer and the amount of practical experience built into them — there should be plenty of it. Not only should practical placements exist, but adequate administration support should be provided to obtain them. Some universities have better implementation processes than others and have established relationships with schools that are willing to take on student teachers. Since practical placements are increasingly difficult to come by, this relationship can make a huge difference in where you are placed and how much time and effort you have to put in to find a school.

When researching your institution options, also ensure that you are looking out for facilities relevant to your studies. For example, if you are studying primary education, look out for mock classrooms.

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 in education and training field

New graduates are not all that satisfied with their courses, but starting salaries have risen to an average of $55,978. The prospects for career progression are high, with options to move up to coordinator or school principal level. The graduate unemployment rate sat at 30 per cent in 2014, and only around one in 10 graduates undertook further study.

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

Postgraduate study in education and training

Courses, majors and specialisations in education and training

There are three kinds of postgraduate studies in education: career-change programs for graduates wanting to become educators; advanced and specialist programs for practising professionals in areas ranging from workplace education to early literacy; and research degrees. These categories blur in some masters programs and professional doctorates, which may combine coursework with a research thesis or report.

Teachers are big consumers of postgraduate studies, so enrolment numbers are high enough to support a vast range of programs at a wide range of institutions. Most programs are available part time (a popular option for postgraduates), and some are offered via distance or online education as well. The challenge is choosing the right program.

If your goal is to qualify as a teacher after completing undergraduate study in another field, make sure your program includes plenty of practical teaching experience — there is no better way to ensure you are prepared for the realities of the classroom. While career-change programs in education are open to graduates from a range of fields, many require a certain number of units in one or more areas, such as English, science or music. Check any prerequisites carefully.

If you’re looking at programs in the second group, you may be interested in meeting professional development requirements or extending your areas of expertise. In either case, you are probably already working and will be particularly interested in the flexible study options available. If you want to expand your career options in school education, programs in areas such as school leadership, gifted education or teacher librarianship could lead to an exciting new role.

Many programs offer interesting pathways from school into other workplaces and careers. For example, there are a growing number of programs in workplace education that could take you into a human resources job. Adult education, vocational education, tertiary education and career counselling open up further options that still relate to education but provide some new scenery away from the school environment. Be sure to look into all of the options in this field and others. If, for example, you are considering a program in educational leadership, why not consider a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

Where to study education and training courses

Postgraduate teaching and education courses are available both at universities and at some private higher education providers, so you shouldn't have much difficulty finding an appropriate program. If you are contemplating a research degree, you shouldn’t necessarily focus on the research performance of the institution overall, but on the activity of the academics in education specifically. Education is a special area, and quality research and leading academics in its various specialisations are not necessarily found in one type of university (research intensive, for example) or another. As always, take note of the specifics, including the strengths and weaknesses of possible supervisors.

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

Career opportunities in education and training field

According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates are happy with the teaching quality of courses, but are not satisfied with the skills they gained. Employment ratings are also average compared with other fields, with 79 per cent of graduates finding work within four months of graduation. Graduate salaries have risen but are still below average when compared with other fields, at $74,045 per year.

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

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