When you’re looking to study online in Australia, it’s important to know about the different types of accreditation and recognition that online courses can have. This will help you choose a course that’s credible, valuable, and can help you reach your career and education goals.

Australian Accreditation & Recognition Overview 

Australian Qualifications Framework

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national system for all qualifications in Australia, including some online courses. It covers everything from Certificate I to Bachelor Degree to Doctoral Degree, and each level typically builds on the skills and knowledge from the one before.

Examples of AQF-recognised qualifications:

  • Certificate IV in Aged Care
  • Diploma of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Nursing
  • Master of Psychology

Industry Specific Certifications 

These certifications demonstrate that you have met the standards set by a particular industry for a specific role or profession. They show that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to perform effectively in that field. Industry-specific certifications are often required or preferred by employers, and they can help you stand out in a competitive job market. Earning these certifications usually involves completing a combination of education, work experience, and passing an exam.

Examples of industry specific certifications: 

  • Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) for accounting
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) for IT networking
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM) for project management
  • Australian Institute of Personal Trainers (AIPT) certification for fitness

Vendor Specific Certifications

These certifications are offered by specific companies or vendors to validate your expertise in their products, services, or technologies. They show that you have a deep understanding of how to use, troubleshoot, and use these tools effectively. Vendor-specific certifications are highly valued by employers who use those particular products or technologies, as they demonstrate your ability to work with them efficiently. To earn these certifications, you typically need to complete training courses and pass one or more exams. 

Examples of vendor specific certifications: 

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) for Microsoft technologies
  • Google Ads Certification for digital marketing
  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) for Creative Cloud products
  • Salesforce Certified Administrator for customer relationship management

Skills-Based Certifications 

These certifications focus on a specific set of skills that are applicable across different industries and job roles. They demonstrate that you have mastered a particular skill set, such as project management, digital marketing, or cybersecurity. Skill-based certifications are often pursued by professionals looking to enhance their expertise in a specific area or transition into a new field. Earning these certifications usually requires a combination of education, experience, and passing an exam.

Examples of skill-based certifications:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) for project management skills
  • Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) for digital marketing skills
  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) for business analysis skills
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for cybersecurity skills

Non-Accredited CPD-Endorsed Online Courses

Non-accredited CPD-endorsed online courses allow you to learn new skills or expand your knowledge without pursuing a formal qualification. These courses have been approved by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Service, ensuring they meet high standards for quality and relevance to your professional growth. Some will also provide you with RPL credit (Recognition of Prior Learning) which you can put towards more formal qualifications. 

Examples of non-accredited CPD-endorsed online courses: 

  • Allied Health Assistance Pathway Course
  • Business Management (Advanced Micro-Credential)
  • Medical Reception and Terminology Course
  • Veterinary Assistant Pathway Course 
  • Personal Training and Nutrition Business Micro-Credential

Many of our non-accredited CPD-endorsed courses provide you with credit (RPL – Recognition of Prior Learning) toward various Nationally Recognised Certificates with our partner RTO.

  • This means: If you complete certain OCA courses, you will earn credit for parts of a nationally recognised qualification offered by our partner RTO.This credit is given through RPL, which recognises that what you learned in the OCA course is similar to what you would have learned in the RTO’s qualification.
  • For example: A Veterinary Assistant Pathway Course through OCA will earn you 40% credit (RPL) toward the Nationally Recognised ACM30122 Certificate III in Animal Care Services with our partner RTO 2875.

Personal Training and Nutrition Business Micro-Credential provides you with 35% credit (RPL) toward the Nationally Recognised SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness with our partner RTO 32107.

This can save you time and money when going for a nationally recognised qualification. By getting credit for units you’ve already done with OCA, you might have to study fewer units with the RTO, making your studies shorter and cheaper.

Non–Accredited Courses 

These courses are designed to provide you with knowledge and skills in a particular subject area, but they do not lead to a formally recognised qualification or certification. Non-accredited courses can be a good option for personal or professional development, as they allow you to learn at your own pace and often at a lower cost than accredited programs. However, they may not carry the same weight with employers as accredited courses or industry-recognized certifications. They can take many forms, such as online tutorials, workshops, or short courses. 

Examples of non-accredited courses: 

  • Short courses on platforms like Udemy or Coursera
  • Workshops or seminars by industry experts
  • Online tutorials or bootcamps for specific skills
  • Personal development courses by influencers or coaches

How to Choose the Right Online Course for Your Career

Selecting the right online course can be a game-changer for your career trajectory. With plenty of options available, making an informed choice requires understanding your career goals, the credibility of the course provider, and how the course aligns with industry standards. Here are some tips to help you choose the right online course for your career. 

1. Define Your Career Goals

Before diving into the sea of available online courses, clearly define what you want to achieve. Are you looking to gain a specific skill, earn a promotion, switch careers, or simply expand your knowledge base? Setting specific, measurable, and realistic goals will help you choose a course that aligns with your aspirations.

2. Research the Course Provider

Not all course providers are created equal. Look for providers that are reputable and have a track record of success. Check if the provider is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) if you’re pursuing an AQF-accredited course. Read reviews and testimonials from former students to gauge the quality of the course and the provider’s credibility.

3. Assess Course Content and Delivery

Review the course syllabus to see if it covers all the topics you need to learn. Also, consider the mode of delivery—does the course offer interactive elements, live sessions, or is it self-paced? Make sure the learning style of the course matches your preferences and schedule.

4. Check for Professional Recognition

Especially relevant for career-focused learners, check if the course is recognised by professional bodies or industry leaders. This recognition can enhance your resume and make you a more competitive candidate in your field.

5. Evaluate Cost vs. Benefit

Consider the cost of the course and weigh it against the potential career benefits. Does the course offer a good return on investment? Are there financial aid options or payment plans that can make it more accessible?

6. Plan for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

If you’re a professional looking to keep your skills up-to-date, consider how the course fits into your CPD requirements. Courses that offer CPD points can be particularly beneficial as they contribute to your professional growth and compliance with industry standards

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are online courses recognised in Australia?

Yes, many online courses are recognised across Australia, especially if they are accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) or by specific industry groups. Always check the course’s accreditation status if you need it for professional or educational advancement.

How do I know if a course is accredited in Australia?

To find out if a course is accredited, you can look for information on the course provider’s website, check if it’s associated with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), or see if it’s listed under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). If in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the provider for details.

What is the most respected accreditation?

In Australia, the gold standard for course accreditation is usually the AQF for academic courses. For professional fields, however, the most respected accreditation might come from specific industry bodies relevant to your career, like CPA Australia for accountants or Engineers Australia for engineers.

Are non-accredited CPD-endorsed courses worth it? 

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) courses can be very worthwhile, especially if they align with your career goals, help you maintain professional licences, or offer a competitive edge in your field. They are designed to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date, demonstrating a commitment to professional growth which is valued by employers.

Is a CPD-endorsed course right for me?

Consider your career objectives, the gaps in your skills, and the demands of your industry. If a CPD course can help bridge any skill gaps, support your career goals, or is required for regulatory compliance, it might be a good fit for you.

Who accredits courses in Australia?

Courses are accredited by different bodies depending on their focus:

  • Higher education courses are accredited by TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency).
  • Vocational courses generally come under ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority) or, in some cases, state-based authorities.

Which accreditation is best?

The best accreditation really depends on what you need from your course. If you’re aiming for a degree or diploma, look for AQF accreditation. If you’re after specific job skills, industry-specific certifications and CPD-endorsed courses might serve you better.