Uni not for you? How to kickstart a STEM career without a degree

It’s good to know your options, so while you’re exploring courses don’t forget VET. Image: Shutterstock.

University isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, there are heaps of opportunities to study STEM that don’t involve a degree. We’re talking about vocational education and training – otherwise known as VET.

VET qualifications are designed in consultation with industry and courses tend to be more hands-on than university degrees, so you get a lot of practice learning the skills required before entering the workforce.

Fast-track your career

While bachelor degrees are three to four years long, VET qualifications can take as little as six months to two years, depending on the course you do. That means you can be qualified and work-ready faster, or if you’re not sure what you want to do, you can try it out over a shorter period.

Plus, with VET you can build on your qualifications as you go. And, in some cases, earn recognition of prior learning if you do decide on uni… #winning!

RELATED: The government keeps talking about revamping VET – but is it actually doing it?

What STEM areas can you study within VET?

Engineering is by far the most popular choice. You won’t become a qualified engineer – for that you need a degree – but you might find yourself working as an engineering technician or a CAD drafter.

If you like maths you can help start your career as a bookkeeper, accountant or auditor. Science boffins can study laboratory technology and if tech is your thing, there are IT courses in everything from networking and software development to game design and digital media.

Whatever your career plans, a VET qualification could be a valuable building block in getting you where you want to go. It’s good to know your options, so while you’re exploring courses don’t forget VET!

RELATED: Veterinary science

5 STEM pathways in VET

1. Health

Study: Certificate III in Pathology Collection
Job: Pathology assistants work for medical labs performing a range of tasks including extracting, collecting and labelling patient samples.
Pay: $41K–$57K

2. Tech

Study: Advanced Diploma of Cyber Security
Job: Cybersecurity professionals protect digital systems, networks and programs from attacks.
Pay: $59K–$104K

3. Science

Study: Diploma of Electronics and Communications Engineering
Job: This course could land you a job as an engineering technician, and could also go towards an engineering degree if you want to further your study and qualifications.
Pay: $47K–$105k

4. Engineering

Study: Diploma of Laboratory Technology
Job: Lab assistants help with operating and maintaining lab tools and equipment, data recording, preparing experiments and more.
Pay: $39K–$57K

5. Finance

Study: Certificate IV in Financial Services
Job: Work as an accounts officer or bookkeeper, or use this as a stepping stone to other jobs or qualifications in the financial services sector.
Pay: $26K–$56K*

Chloe Walker

Author: Chloe Walker

Chloe is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne. She loves talking to people about their passions, whether that’s STEM, arts, business, or something else entirely! chloe-walker.com

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