diploma vs certificate featured image

Diploma vs Certificate: What’s the Difference

Diploma vs Certificate? Which one to take?

When it comes to career decisions, it is important to carefully assess and understand every option you have. Get all the right information before you make that big move.

If that big move is looking at different career options, wanting to move up the ladder and looking for a promotion, or entering the workforce for the first time, then there are certain things you need to know before making a final decision.

You might be wondering what might be the best qualification to take, given your specific situation? Should You go for a diploma or a certificate?

Read on and learn all about the difference between a diploma vs a certificate.


Australia’s Variety of Qualifications

There are ten (10) levels of qualifications — which was set by the Australian Qualifications Framework or the AQF.

Here is a list of these levels:

  • Doctorate degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Graduate Certificate or Diploma
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Advanced diploma
  • Diploma
  • Certificate IV
  • Certificate III
  • Certificate II
  • Certificate I


Diploma vs Certificate

student studying online

The difference between these qualifications is the level of skills and knowledge you’ll be learning, and what kind of job they can help prepare you for.

There are four levels of certificates and two types of diplomas. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of certificates and an explanation of each.


Certificate I

As the first level on the AQF’s qualification ladder, a certificate I is designed to give you basic, foundational skills on a subject. A certificate I is usually a great place for high school students to start studying for a particular career path.

Certificate II

Leading on from the certificate I, a certificate II will teach you more industry-specific skills that will get you job-ready.

Some jobs don’t require a formal qualification, however, taking one can give you the edge you need to land a spot in your chosen field.

Certificate III

The next step up is the certificate III. This qualification goes beyond foundational teachings to equip you with more industry-specific skills and knowledge.

You may want to study a certificate III as a way to get a promotion.

For example, if you’ve been working for a particular company in human resources for a while and are looking to move up the ladder, you could study the BSB30415 Certificate III in Business Administration to give yourself an edge.

Certificate IV

A certificate IV is designed to provide you with the technical skills you need to perform a job. It’s designed to give you specialised knowledge across a range of contexts.

For example, the CHC43015 Certificate IV in Ageing Support has been developed to teach you practical skills directly related to work a competent and qualified aged care worker/personal care assistant.


A diploma is similar to a certificate IV in that it focuses on technical skills in a broad context. However, it usually gives you a more thorough, deeper understanding of a subject.

For example, if you’re looking to start a job as a safety officer and already have a basic understanding of WHS, then a Diploma is a great way to build on your existing knowledge and also formalise your experience.

Studying the BSB51319 Diploma of Work Health and Safety will teach you the more advanced practices of WHS, and you’ll also have a better resume to present to potential employers.

Advanced diploma

An advanced diploma is the sixth-highest level of qualification a person can receive under the AQF, and it qualifies you to carry out highly skilled work in your chosen field.

An advanced diploma signifies that you have broad technical and theoretical knowledge in a particular area.


Looking to Study a Diploma or Certificate?

Check out Inspire Education’s wide range of nationally recognised Diplomas and Certificates and see if we have the one for you!

CLICK HERE to view our courses and enquire now!

Oops! We could not locate your form.