Certificate III Aged Care and Certificate IV Ageing Support: What’s the Difference?

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Overtime and going home late is now a work health and safety issue

Australia’s population is facing an alarming trend: we’re getting older – fast.

Our population is ageing so quickly that 1 out of every 5 Australians will be 65 years or older within just a few decades, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics only expects it to “increase more rapidly over the next decade.”

This means Australia now needs more qualified aged care workers, disability workers, and personal and community care givers than ever to support the millions of elderly and senior Australians to meet this massive demand.

As such, many Australians today are pursuing a career in this high-demand industry, but there has been some confusion on what exactly is needed to get qualified, particularly for aged care courses:

Do you need the Certificate III in Aged Care course (now called the Certificate III in Individual Support)? Or do you need the Certificate IV in Ageing Support course?

What’s the Difference Between the Certificate III Aged Care and Certificate IV Ageing Support Training Courses Anyway?

Here are answers to some of the questions you might have:

1. What is the Certificate III in Aged Care and the Certificate IV in Ageing Support?

The Cert III Aged Care (CHC30212) was formerly the standard qualification to work in an aged care facility was one of the most popular nationally accredited courses among employers. Many aged care assistants and home and community workers hold this entry-level course.

This training course was superseded in 2015 and replaced by the latest aged care course, called the Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015).

The certificate in aged care is formally called the Certificate IV in Ageing Support (CHC43015), and is a step higher than both Certificate III courses. This course superseded 2 Cert IV qualifications in 2015, the Cert IV in Aged Care (CHC40108) and the Cert IV in Home and Community Care (42012).

2. How is Certificate III in Individual Support different from Certificate IV in Ageing Support?

Both courses will allow you to become a qualified aged care worker and equip you with the necessary skills, but they do have several differences.

The Certificate III in Individual Support is the standard qualification for the aged care industry. This is most popular among students who are entering a career in an aged or home and community care facility for the first time.

It puts emphasis on person-centred support in community and/or residential setting, regardless of why the support is required—whether due to ageing, disability, etc. Students enrolled in this course can also specialise in Ageing, Disability, or Home and Community, depending on the elective units they will get.

The Certificate IV in Ageing Support meanwhile puts emphasis on more advanced skills suited for those who want to become an aged care Team Leader. This role includes specialised tasks on how to manage other care assistants in an aged, residential, or community environment.

3. How are they similar/different in terms of units?

Both the courses have the following core units:

  • CHCCCS023 – Support independence and wellbeing
  • CHCDIV001 – Work with diverse people
  • HLTAAP001 – Recognise healthy body systems
  • HLTWHS002 – Follow safe work practices for direct client care

The rest of the core units for each course are as follows:

Certificate III in Individual Support (with electives for specialisation):

  • CHCCCCS015 – Provide individualised support (core)
  • CHCCOM005 – Communicate and work in health or community services (core)
  • CHCLEG001 – Work legally and ethically (core)
  • CHCAGE001 – Facilitate the empowerment of older people (ageing and home and community elective)
  • CHCAGE005 – Provide support to people living with dementia (ageing elective)
  • CHCCCS011 – Meet personal support needs (ageing and home and community elective)
  • CHCDIS001 – Contribute to ongoing skills development using a strengths-based approach (disability elective)
  • CHCDIS002 – Follow established person centred behaviour supports (disability elective)
  • CHCDIS003 – Support community participation and social inclusion (disability elective)
  • CHCDIS007 – Facilitate the empowerment of people with disability (disability and home and community elective)
  • CHCCCS025 – Support relationships with carers and families (home and community elective)
  • CHCHCS001 – Provide home and community support services (home and community electives)

Certificate IV in Ageing Support:

  • CHCADV001 – Facilitate the interests and rights of clients (core)
  • CHCAGE001 – Facilitate the empowerment of older people (core)
  • CHCAGE003 – Coordinate services for older people (core)
  • CHCAGE004 – Implement interventions with older people at risk (core)
  • CHCAGE005 – Provide support to people living with dementia (core)
  • CHCCCS006 – Facilitate individual service planning and delivery (core)
  • CHCCCS011 – Meet personal support needs (core)
  • CHCCCS025 – Support relationships with carers and families (core)
  • CHCLEG003 – Manage legal and ethical compliance (core)
  • CHCPAL001 – Deliver care services using a palliative approach (core)
  • CHCPRP001 – Develop and maintain networks and collaborative partnerships (core)

You can also potentially choose from 53 other elective units for Individual Support and 59 other elective units for Ageing Support that are related to Health and Community Care, Business, Hospitality and Transport, and Logistics. In many cases, your training provider will have already picked electives and designed a course that will ensure you get great career outcomes from your new qualification.

The complete list of possible electives for both courses can be found on training.gov.au.

4. What careers or job roles can students who complete these courses pursue?

Here are some of the career pathways available to people who finish the courses:

Certificate III in Individual Support:

  • Accommodation Support Worker
  • Accommodation Support Worker (Disability)
  • Disability Services Worker
  • Food Services Worker (Aged Care)
  • Personal Care Giver
  • Respite Care Worker

Certificate IV in Ageing Support:

  • Care Service Team Leader
  • Care Supervisor in Aged Care
  • Community Program Coordinator
  • Aged Care Activity Worker
  • Residential Care Worker

Students who are specialising in individual support may also ask their trainers and assessors regarding specialised jobs that they can qualify for after finishing the course.

5. How much do I pay to enrol and study these courses?

The average course fee for the Certificate III in Individual Support is $3,000, according to MySkills.gov.au.

Meanwhile, the average course fee for the Certificate IV in Ageing Support is higher at $4,850.

  1. How much study time will it take to complete the course and gain my qualification?

The average course duration for the Certificate III in Individual Support is 26 weeks, which is equal to around 7 months.

The Certificate IV in Ageing Support takes longer to complete than the Certificate III, as it has more core units and is more specific to ageing. The average duration for this course is 1 year.

6. Is vocational placement required? For how long?

Hands on experience is extremely important in the health and community care industry. Both courses require its students to undergo at least 120 hours of vocational placement work in a registered care facility.


Demand for aged care services for elderly Australians is now more massive than ever, pushing up demand for aged care workers.

To get qualified in this industry, two of the most popular entry level courses are the  Certificate III in Individual Support (formerly called the Cert III in Aged Care course) and the Certificate IV in Ageing Support.

Both training courses are nationally accredited and are excellent entry-level qualifications to start a career in the aged care industry. To make these qualifications work for you though, you must first decide on what role you want to pursue and the tasks you will enjoy doing for the elderly.

The Cert III aged care course may be better if you:

  • Have minimal experience in the aged care industry
  • Prefer to gain experience right away as an aged care worker or community care assistant
  • Are looking for a shorter and less expensive course
  • Would like to specialise in aged care, disability care, or home and community care (or any combination of these 3)

The Cert IV aged care course may be better if you:

  • Are planning to pursue advanced Team Leader roles in aged care
  • Want to gain advanced skills
  • Are interested in managing teams
  • Want a course that covers both Aged Care and Home & Community Care

If you are still unsure of which option to take, or would like more details on your ideal training course, please click here to enquire and ask about the Certificate III in Individual Support, or click here to ask about the Certificate IV in Ageing.

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There’s 12 comments (add a comment)

  • catherine says:

    I just want to know if you do an enrolled nurse course, because I have just finished a
    care working course with you, and if so can it be done without doing the whole course again?
    Thanks Catherine

    • Joshua says:

      Hi Catherine. Thank you for choosing to study with us for your aged care course! Unfortunately, we are not offering any nursing course at the moment. You may click here to view all our course offerings.

  • Danielle Howarth says:

    Hi i was wondering i have my cert III in aged and disablility how do go about up grading that to a cert 4

    • Joshua says:

      Hi Danielle. You can definitely upgrade to a Certificate IV in Ageing Support to advance your career with a Cert IV qualification. Our Enrolment Coordinator will be glad to discuss this with you. Kindly enquire here to get in touch.

  • Jeannie Mifsud says:

    Hi ..I have done both certificates..can you suggest what would be the next step as I have been working in the aged care sector for nearly 14 years now …is there another Cert after Cert IV ….I would really like to do out in the field work next within the community…if there is a role in this area…

    • Joshua says:

      Hi Jeannie! Have you considered taking a Diploma level qualification, like the Diploma of Community Services? Kindly send us an enquiry here so our Enrolment Coordinator can get in touch with you.

  • Ebony Ward says:

    Hi i was wondeing if i need a Cert 3 to complete a Cert 4 ?

  • candy says:

    Hi, I am wondering that i did cert. 3 Aged care course in 2013 (NMIT), but i did not get aged care work experience. now, i would like to upgrade high level go to cert.4. ageing support so that i can able to get a job in health industry, can you give me detail information,such as how much (hold concession card), location.how long to take.

    • Joshua says:

      Thanks for your interest, Candy. If you have the necessary documents to provide evidence for your competence, then you may get RPL. The Cert IV Ageing Support course is now available for only $990, in line with our Spring Sale. You will be given up to 12 months upon commencement to complete the online course, including vocational placement. You may enquire here to get more information.

  • Julia says:

    can i take certificate IV only ? actually ive graduated in bachelor of nursing already in indonesian

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