Choosing the right course

There are many study options available to aspiring community workers, with courses ranging from certificate level to Masters. Students can undertake certificate level qualifications in community sector areas such as aged care or home and community care (HACC). This can be a good way to get a feel for the sector and job seekers with these qualifications typically gain employment as support workers and personal care workers. The ageing population and increasing need for skilled workers in disability support roles see these graduates in high demand.

The majority of community workers begin their career by undertaking a relevant diploma level qualification. The most common of these is the Diploma of Community Services Work which provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to work with a wide range of clients in a variety of settings.

However, this is not the only qualification which can prepare you for this career. Other diploma courses focus on specific areas within the community services sector such as disability or youth work.

Diploma courses should involve a 400 hour fieldwork placement component which is the professional standard and which enables students to put their skills into practice through supervised field experience. It is for this reason that community work-related diplomas are not normally undertaken 100% online.

Bachelor degree qualifications studied at university also provide a pathway to employment and common courses include Bachelor of Human Services and Bachelor of Social Science.

People with previous experience in the community sector may wish to explore gaining recognition of prior learning (RPL) through a course provider. RPL allows your skills, knowledge and experience to be counted towards a formal qualification.

If you are thinking of becoming a community worker you will want to give yourself the best possible opportunities for employment and a satisfying career by undertaking a good quality course. ACWA accredits community services courses to ensure they include all relevant subject units and provide students with the real life experience of supervised fieldwork.

Graduating from an ACWA accredited course will make you more employable, provide you with the makings of a very important network and give you the confidence that you can give your best to your work. Importantly graduating from an ACWA accredited diploma or degree also makes you eligible for full ACWA membership.

The community also has an expectation of community work practitioners in that they demand professionalism, ethical practice, and demonstrated skills and knowledge. Employers, in responding to community expectation, need to feel confident in their choice of staff, particularly in entry level positions. Employers when choosing new staff members who have graduated from recognised and accredited courses trust that students have the requisite theoretical underpinning and supervised fieldwork experience necessary for the role.

To find a list of ACWA accredited courses please use the course finder. Undertaking one of these courses ensures that you will graduate with the required skills, knowledge and practical experience to ensure employability.  Students are encouraged to apply for student membership of ACWA.

You can learn more about how being a graduate of an ACWA accredited course and an ACWA member will help get you the job you want here