What is the difference between vocational education and higher education?

Sage Education Australia > Blogs > Childcare Courses > What is the difference between vocational education and higher education?

Whether you’ve just finished school, fancy a new career change, want to broaden your skill set or need a qualification to get the job of your dreams, there’s a course out there for everyone. 

At Sage, we’re committed to helping everyone find educational courses that suit them. That’s why we’ve put together this article to help you understand your options.

In this handy guide, we’ll discuss the differences between vocational and higher education, go in-depth on the benefits of each mode of study, and explore which option is best for you.

What is vocational education?

Vocational education and training (VET) courses focus on providing you with job-ready skills.

These courses are usually offered by a registered training organisation (RTO). They aim to provide you with skills that you can apply in a trade, craft or technical role.

Compared to higher education courses, VET courses usually emphasise hands-on training over theoretical knowledge. Students will work through many targeted exercises that build their practical expertise and help them succeed in a particular role.

What is higher education?

Higher education includes Universities, RTOs and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes that provide bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, graduate diplomas and doctorate degrees.

Whereas vocational courses focus on practical skills, higher education usually emphasises broad, in-depth knowledge of a specialist subject and involves many more written assessments, exams and theory-based tests.

Higher education courses usually take much longer to complete than vocational courses and are much more intensive. They are helpful for starting careers in highly-specialised fields.

Who is vocational education suited to?

Vocational qualifications are suited to a wide range of people from all walks of life. They are perfect for those who are:

  • Interested in a career in a trade or craft role. If you’ve recently finished your studies and want to get involved in a practical role, a VET course is the perfect way to get the hands-on expertise you need to get started.
  • Looking for a career change. As vocational courses are usually quick to complete, they are an excellent option for anyone looking for a change. Within weeks, you could learn a new skill and get employed in a rewarding industry.
  • Wanting to boost their employability. If you’re already in a trade or craft role but want to further your skills, a VET course is a perfect choice. The flexibility of the training programs means you can fit your studies around a busy working schedule.
  • Returning to work after time off. If you’ve previously worked in a trade or craft role but have recently taken a career break, a VET course can help you get back up to speed with best practices in your industry.

Why should I choose a vocational course?

Vocational education has several key advantages that make it a great choice over traditional study. Here are some key reasons you may want to opt for a vocational course.

You want flexibility

VET courses are known for their flexible study options. This makes them ideal for people who need to work their learning around full-time work or family life.

At Sage, many of our vocational courses are self-paced and can be completed at any time. This means you can study at a speed that suits you, whenever you like, and from wherever suits you.

You like time-efficiency

On average, vocational education courses are much quicker to complete than higher education courses. This makes them an excellent choice for people who want to quickly gain employability skills, start a new role, or change career paths without completing years of study. 

For example, many of our vocational courses at Sage can be completed in under six months. If you’re looking to get employed quickly, vocational courses are the best choice for you.

You prefer hands-on training

If you prefer getting your hands dirty to spending time writing in a classroom, a VET course is the way to go. Vocational education has an experiential focus, meaning you can take the skills you learn and immediately apply them to a work situation. 

At Sage, our number one priority is securing jobs for our graduates. That’s why each of our courses is designed to build lifelong skills and practical expertise.

Who is higher education suited to?

Higher education can be a great way to gain expert knowledge in a specialist subject. This makes these courses are ideal for those who:

  • Need a degree-level qualification to get the job they want. Career paths such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and physiotherapists all require a higher education qualification because they require a large amount of theoretical knowledge.
  • Would like to specialise in a niche area. If you’re looking to gain expert knowledge in a niche field, a degree can be a great way to do so.
  • Are interested to become an academic. A degree-level qualification is a must if you’re interested in becoming a leading academic or researcher on your chosen subject.

When should I choose higher education?

Higher education can be a great pathway into a specialised niche. Here are some reasons why you may decide a degree-level qualification is right for you.

You prefer a classroom setting

If you’d rather be in the classroom studying than doing practical activities, higher education could be the way to go.

On a degree-level course, you can expect lots of reading assignments, written tasks and knowledge-based assessments. This makes higher education an excellent option for students that thrive in an academic environment.

You want a deeper understanding of your subject

If you want to gain a more comprehensive, in-depth understanding of your chosen subject, degrees are an excellent way to do so. 

Whereas vocational courses provide practical expertise, higher education encourages critical thinking and intellectual curiosity, giving students a chance to develop their knowledge and become experts in their field.

You’d prefer to stick to a strict schedule

Vocational courses are well known for their flexibility, but a relaxed program isn’t for everyone. On a higher education course, you will usually need to stick to a strict schedule, adhere to deadlines and attend regular classes. If you’d prefer to be held accountable while on your course, higher education could be the right option for you.

Not sure which path is best for you?

When so many options are available, it can be tough to make a final decision. Sage is on hand to support you as you choose a path that works for you.

Since our launch in 1998, we’ve helped over 3000 graduates build practical skills, learn lifelong skills and kickstart rewarding careers. If you’re looking to study with flexibility, we have a variety of world-class accredited courses that will provide you with the job-ready skills to get the career you deserve.

Still wondering whether a vocational course is right for you? If you’d like to get in touch, contact us here. We’re happy to discuss your goals and talk about your options. No matter your ambitions, we’re committed to helping you take your next steps with confidence. 

Copyright 2023 Sage Education Australia | All Rights Reserved