The construction industry is unique in that the jobs occupied and frequently sought after vary quite significantly in skills and expertise required. For instance, a carpenter’s role is quite different to an architect, and both cannot be compared to a project manager. For an industry with such scope and breadth of exploration for those that enter it, there is the expectation that qualifications are an important requirement. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) outlines the levels and standards of educational qualifications in Australia. In total, there are 10 levels, and they are as follows:


  • Certificate I
  • Certificate II
  • Certificate III
  • Certificate IV
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma
  • Masters Degree
  • Doctoral Degree


This blog will outline each of the 10 levels which have a defined correlation to not just  construction but also the advancement of knowledge and skill to open up more opportunities. Some levels are more prominent than others (which will become evident from reading about each level and the purview of learning and specialisation available) however you should be able to gain an understanding of the 10 levels of construction and where you might like to begin. 


Before explaining these levels, it is important to note that each course within a level is composed of units of competency. The competencies establish workplace requirements or abilities that are needed to perform tasks in the workplace that are related to the course. 


1.Certificate I


This level is the starting point and the most basic of all the levels. It serves an introduction to construction, the simple concepts and learning objectives to gain an understanding of the area of work. You will also be introduced to the core competencies which will be expanded in further levels, and it may also give you some sort of feel for how you would like your career to generally pan out. A common course at this level is the Certificate I in Construction, which serves as a base that many find suitable to begin. It is most applicable to school leavers looking to start early in construction, and people just looking to obtain general basic skills in and knowledge in construction. Certificate I courses generally last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. 



2.Certificate II


Certificate II is the next level of the AQF, and as it is sequential, it is considered to be the continuation of Certificate I, mainly in terms of the rise in the difficulty and quality of content taught. Because of this, it is seen as the first level which enables you to enter trade in the construction industry, with the exception of plumbing. Accompanied with an apprenticeship, it makes for a perfectly reasonable start to working in construction. The courses that are on offer for this level include areas such as Joinery, Carpentry and Bricklaying. Just like Certificate I, it lasts 6-12 months. 



3.Certificate III


Certificate III follows on from its predecessor, and stresses the importance of core competency units of Certificate II having been completed through introducing more theoretical concepts.  This will allow you to enhance and build upon the content you would have learnt in the previous level, whilst making you better prepared for the workforce. It also aims to encourage students to pursue higher-level education by continuing studies instead of heading straight to looking for employment. The timeframe for completing a Certificate III is 1 to 2 years, and up to 4 years for the inclusion of an apprenticeship.



4.Certificate IV


This is the level that distinguishes itself from the previous 3 levels. It prepares students for the complexities of construction, whilst providing greater scope for exploring different areas of the industry. Many who wish to begin working in construction begin from this point, because it allows you to gain the necessary qualifications for building and construction, whilst avoiding completing a Certificate I, II or III. Since it offers these benefits, it can be considered a broad qualification in the sense that there are many areas of specialisation, which will teach students how to apply what they have learnt in a wide context. A course commonly sought after is the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. What this course aims to do is enable you with skills in planning projects, applying codes and regulations, and managing resources effectively. It also aims to enhance your knowledge in building and construction to an advanced level, which drastically increases chances of landing job opportunities. Roles that are pursued upon completion of this course include contract administrators, estimators, site supervisors etc.



5. Diploma


The Diploma represents another drastic increase in difficulty. This is evidenced by the fact that it can lead to university courses in a specialised field. Theory and practical learning objectives are heavily expanded upon, as difficulty increases. People who reach this level can apply their knowledge in management or supervisory positions, and potentially grow a high level of expertise in a particular area. A course usually undertaken at this level is the Diploma of Building and Construction, which continues on from the Certificate IV course mentioned in the previous level. As this is an advanced course, it is generally aimed at tradespeople and other employed people in the construction industry who are looking to advance their skills in management and development of residential/low-rise construction. Students who undertake this course will generally look to progress to roles such as Site Manager, Project Manager or Domestic Builder.



6. Bachelor’s Degree


A bachelor’s degree can be undertaken at university level. Further specialisation is expected, as areas of focus are strengthened from additional content and skill-building. As with the Diploma, the types of courses at this level are for management and highly-technical areas, thus there are less courses on offer. Examples include the Bachelor of Building Design, Bachelor of Building Surveying, and Bachelor of Construction Management.



From this point on, the final levels are Honours/Graduate Certificate/Graduate Diploma, Masters, and Doctoral (PHD). Specialisation reaches a point whereby one becomes an expert in a particular field. Generally, people looking to enter construction do not reach this point as it is not necessary for the majority of jobs on the market. However, it is more suited to those seeking to perform research-based roles that are theoretical in nature. 


As you can see, the range of which you can explore an area like construction is expansive. There are many courses and roles, and subsequently domains of specialisation, that can be focused on and developed. This can be done by progressing through the AQF’s levels of qualifications, and it will be up to you to decide where you would like to begin.


Parker Brent is an accredited provider of building and construction courses, specialising in the Certificate IV and Diploma of Building and Construction, which are designed to give you the best head start in beginning your construction journey. For more details, enquire now: www.parkerbrent.com.au