How to choose a course for your career-switch to a job helping others

Posted by ACAP on 8 November 2017

When you have finally stopped daydreaming about making a career change and you’re ready to take action, the first move is to secure the right qualification to begin your fresh start.

Choosing a degree to enter the community health and social welfare sector means enrolling in a study program you can enjoy for its great content that will also ensure you’re job-ready when you graduate.

Jobs that make a difference

A practical course that matches your learning style and career goals in social work, counselling or psychology should also offer flexible study options, particularly if you intend to stay in your current job while you learn.

You’ll need a bachelor degree for a job in psychology or social work, but diploma or a bachelor degree will get you started on a career in counselling. For example, a Diploma of Counselling Skills is a one-year study pathway that earns significant credits towards a Bachelor of Counselling, if you take the vocational training route to an undergraduate degree.

Counselling courses and careers

A counselling diploma suits people without prior formal qualifications. Some diploma units count toward a future bachelor degree, should you choose to continue your studies in the future. A Bachelor of Counselling qualifies you with the essential practical skills and competencies required by health care employers seeking specialist support workers. Alternatively, a Graduate Diploma of Counselling is a good choice for people who have a degree in a different field and want to make counselling their new area of expertise.

Getting started as a Social Worker

Bachelor of Social Work graduates have good career options because their coursework emphasises student placement. To make your resume stand out for a social work career, look for a bachelor program featuring significant hands-on fieldwork in community agencies. Industry association endorsement of your social work degree is another advantage because it demonstrates high teaching and learning standards to prospective employers. Social work study pathways extend to postgraduate level, which you can add to your credentials later, for career progression.

Psychology options

Many industries engage psychologists to explore and predict human behaviour, to inform and analyse business plans and to direct organisational decisions. Expert counselling is often performed by psychologists in the more typically understood role of psychotherapist, in one-on-one consultations in clinical practice and also in group sessions. A Bachelor of Psychological Science is the first step towards entering this dynamic profession if you’re fascinated by human behaviour. Clinical registration as a psychologist requires six years of a combination of formal study and supervised placement.

Course entry and flexible study

Bachelor degree enrolment for students over 21 years generally requires a written statement expressing ability and aptitude for the discipline. Your prior work experience may demonstrate relevance, along with prior studies, or a combination of both.

Many career-switchers stay in their jobs while they study and take advantage of enrolling part-time or studying some units online. If that’s your plan, check for the study modes available in your shortlisted courses. Also note what’s involved in switching study modes if your schedule changes. ability to alternate between them smoothly as your needs change. But keep in mind that depending on the course you choose, even full-time study might add up to just two or three days of lectures per week, leaving enough time in your schedule for paid work.

What about exams?

Did you know that Counselling degrees typically exclude exams? These courses instead rely on field placements and assessment of your client-facing hours there, as a requirement of graduation. This means: no exam stress – with the additional valuable benefit of practical experience on your resume, making you job-ready on completion of your course.

Ready to start your new career? Explore ACAP’s courses here