An Entry-Level Guide to Aged Care Certifications and Training in Australia

The two main certificates for aged care | Working without a certificate | Studying aged care in Australia 

Updated 26th March 2024 | 3 minute read

Written by Jesse Gramenz 

aged care chef at st vincent's Hawthorn


Aged care can often feel complicated.  And trying to find the right training for the job you want to pursue can feel equally as complicated. To make things a little easier, we've put together a short guide on the basics of what kind of qualifications you'll need to pursue a job in aged care, focusing more on those looking to break into the industry for the first time. So, let's get started.

The Two Main Certificates for Aged Care Roles

The two primary certificates that are often sought in aged care are the Certificate III in individual Support and the Certificate IV in Ageing Support.

Certificate III in Individual Support

A Certificate III in Individual Support is often considered the entry-level qualification, designed to equip you with the foundational skills for personal care and support. 

As an example, it takes 6 months to complete at TAFE taking up about 3 days a week in terms of workload. This can be longer for some online courses.

Some core units of the Certificate III include:

  • Provide individualised support
  • Facilitate the empowerment of people receiving support
  • Support independence and wellbeing
  • Recognise healthy body systems
  • Communicate and work in health or community services
  • Work with diverse people
  • Work legally and ethically
  • Apply basic principles and practices of infection prevention and control
  • Follow safe work practices for direct client care

Source: TAFE Queensland

Certificate IV in Ageing Support

For those looking to move into leadership roles, the Certificate IV in Ageing Support offers advanced training, emphasizing leadership and specialized care techniques and is designed for people already working in the aged care industry.

While a Certificate IV shares some core units with the Certificate III, there are a range of differences which we've highlighted below:

  • Facilitate the interests and rights of clients
  • Facilitate the empowerment of older people
  • Coordinate services for older people
  • Implement interventions with older people at risk
  • Provide support to people living with dementia
  • Facilitate individual service planning and delivery
  • Meet personal support needs
  • Support independence and wellbeing
  • Support relationships with carers and families
  • Work with diverse people
  • Manage legal and ethical compliance
  • Deliver care services using a palliative approach
  • Develop and maintain networks and collaborative partnerships
  • Recognise healthy body systems
  • Follow safe work practices for direct client care

Note: Some of the different core units highlighted are available as elective subjects in a Certificate III depending on your location

What types of jobs can I get with each certificate?

QualificationPotential Job Roles
Certificate III in Individual SupportPersonal Care Assistant (PCA)

Aged Care Support Worker

Assistant in Nursing (AIN)

Home Care Assistant

Community Care Worker
Certificate IV in Ageing SupportAged Care Team Leader

Aged Care Coordinator

Lifestyle Coordinator (with additional training)

Senior Personal Care Assistant

Case Manager (with additional training/experience)

Read on: Explore St Vincent's Aged Care jobs in Melbourne

Can I work in aged care without a certificate?

You can work in aged care without a certificate. BUT, for any care related roles, it's very unlikely you'll be hired for a role unless you're at least working towards a certificate.  

The practical and academic sides of degrees and certification mean that aged care residents have fully trained and qualified people caring for them.

But, there are lots of roles in aged care that don't require formal training such as aged care cooks, cleaners, lifestyle coordinators, maintenance workers... and more!

List of common aged care jobs (with required qualifications)*

Role in Aged CareLikely Required Qualification/Degree
Aged Care Support WorkerCertificate III in Individual Support
OR Certificate IV in Ageing Support

Assistant in Nursing (AIN)Certificate II in Individual Support
OR Certificate IV in Ageing Support

Aged Care NurseBachelor of Nursing (Registered Nurse)
Aged Care Enrolled NurseDiploma of Nursing (Enrolled Nurse)
Aged Care Facility ManagerRequirements can vary. Most roles require an AHPRA registration as a Registered Nurse 
Aged Care Maintenance ManagerTrade certified or with similar qualifications 
OR experience in a similar role with coordinating contractors and tradespeople
Aged Care Cleaner & Laundry AssistantNo qualifications needed
Previous experience as a cleaner often desired but not essential
Aged Care Cook & ChefsCertificate III or IV in Commercial Cookery (Hospitality)
OR previous experience in similar roles
Aged Care Kitchen HandNo qualifications needed
Leisure and Lifestyle CoordinatorNo qualifications needed
Certificate IV in Leisure and Health is often desired but not essential

*Requirements for each role will differ depending on the organisation. Use this table as a rough guide only.

How to Study Aged Care in Australia

Obtaining an aged care qualification in Australia requires a mix of both practical knowledge and academic understanding.

Whether you're becoming a supporrt worker or a chef, there will be some combination of both.

Some of the main providers of aged care certifications in Australia include:

Parting Thoughts

While starting a career in aged care can feel a little overwhelming, the rewards are absolutely worth it. You'll be joining an in-demand industry that is incredibly rewarding and with a little training to get there, you'll be well on your way to a job and a career that you can have for many years to come.

If you're looking for a career in aged care, why not check out our Careers page. We might have just the perfect role for you.