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Health services and support

The health services and support field encompasses a wide range of professions. Some health workers focus on running things (such as those in health administration); some on advising and educating people (health promotion or occupational health and safety); some on working for or advising public agencies and other organisations (public health); and some on delivering health services (radiography or nutrition).Browse Health services and support courses by state
Before commencing tertiary study, it is likely that you may have little knowledge about the breadth of courses and occupations in this field. We strongly recommend that you research the course you are interested in and ask the provider to suggest organisations that employ people in the field so that you can go and talk to some of them. You may be surprised how pleased people are to talk about their work, even if you ring up out of the blue.If you are interested in health services you should also see what is on offer in the fields of rehabilitation, nursing, medicine, dentistry, social work and veterinary science.
VET study in health services and support
Courses and specialisations
Health services and support courses in the VET sector are career focused and provide plenty of practical learning opportunities. You can choose from a broad range of courses and specialisations, including aged care work, counselling studies, home and community care, nail technology, nursing (enrolled), optical dispensing, remedial massage, retail cosmetic services and herbal medicine.It will pay to do your research into the different course options, both subject area and qualification level, to ensure you find the best fit for you. You may find that the area you're considering requires further study at degree level or that a degree will significantly improve your job prospects.
Where to study
VET courses in this field are widely offered across the country at TAFE institutes and private VET providers, so you will not have trouble finding a suitable course.
Career opportunities
Career options in this field are extremely broad. Depending on your particular area of interest you could choose a career in anything from home and community care, aged care and occupational health and safety to homoeopathy, naturopathy, herbal medicine and massage.Keep in mind that VET qualifications will prepare you for paraprofessional roles, so entry to some professional areas will require further study at undergraduate level. As interest in alternative medicines and practices increases, so too do job opportunities in many of these fields. See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Undergraduate study in health services and support
Courses and specialisations
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:
  • Ambulance services
  • Community health
  • Disability studies
  • Environmental health
  • Health promotion
  • Natural medicine
  • Nutrition and dietetics
  • Oral health
  • Osteopathy
  • Radiography
Health services and support is a huge field of study, particularly at undergraduate level. In addition to broad areas such as dietetics and public health, there are also many degree options in complementary health disciplines, such as homoeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine, which offer an alternative to Western approaches.Some other majors include Aboriginal health studies, ambulance services, beauty therapy, mental health, music therapy, radiography, rural health and women's healthYou should also note that many courses in this field will be narrowly focused on preparing students for particular occupations. This can be great, but make sure that it’s what you want or that you can change focus down the track if you need to. When it comes to choosing a particular institution or course you might also consider the amount of practical training you will receive, the clinical facilities available and (depending on your interests) whether the faculty or college utilises any of the increasingly popular online technologies that simulate the practical aspects of the work.A new degree structure, which has already been established in some fields at selected institutions, is becoming increasingly popular in health sciences. The structure follows a US-style model where undergraduates enter a general pre-professional degree (perhaps in science, health science or applied science) and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in their professional area.
Where to study
Courses in this field are widely available at nearly all universities and at many private providers. Many health professionals, such as medical imaging technologists and osteopaths, need professional registration in order to gain accreditation to practise, so check that your course meets the requirements of your chosen occupation before you apply.Health services courses are quite tough to get into, maybe due to the fact that they include a few rare and popular courses, some dramatic and exciting (paramedics) and others closely related to increasingly important roles that promote healthy lifestyles and workplaces (nutrition and occupational health and safety). Remember that degrees in this field will not always be called ‘health’ or ‘health science’; many will be named after their specialisations (for example, a Bachelor of Oral Health or Bachelor of Health Promotion).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
The national Course Experience Questionnaire survey found that starting salaries in health services and support are slightly above average at $54,620, and the graduate unemployment rate has remained stable at 29 per cent. In the longer term, the number of jobs in these occupations is expected to grow substantially. A large number of graduates (22 per cent) went onto further study, perhaps to specialise in a particular area after completing one of the broad health science degrees.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Postgraduate study in health services and support
Courses and specialisations
Many postgraduate programs in this field are designed for those who are already qualified practitioners working in one of the numerous health professions. Others enable graduates of generic health courses (such as health science) to specialise in a particular field (optometry, for instance). There are also some programs for graduates with qualifications and experience in other fields who need some knowledge about health and health services and support. These usually combine a focus on health science with studies in areas such as management, public policy and occupational health and safety. Alternative approaches to health care — acupuncture, naturopathy, herbal medicine and Chinese medicine, for example — are making slower progress at the postgraduate than the undergraduate level. Most postgraduate students in this field are doing coursework rather than research. But if research is your ambition, you are likely to be better off looking at one of the established research institutions, not so much because the academics will be better, but because they will be better placed to open up the academic networks. You are also more likely to find a critical mass of research students and better access to resources and scholarships. But as always, look into the specifics — especially the strengths and weaknesses of possible supervisors.
Where to study
Although many campuses offer programs in the health services and support field, the sub-divisions are so numerous that the range in a particular specialisation is sometimes more limited than you would expect at any one campus. However, if you can’t find what you want where you want it, a good number of programs are now available through distance education. In fact, this field has one of the higher rates of external study (48 per cent).To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.
Career opportunities
According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, recent graduates of these programs are generally quite satisfied with their programs. Employment outcomes are above average, with 86 per cent of graduates finding work at the completion of their studies. Salaries are also above average, at $92,547.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
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