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Where could a diploma take you?

There's an automatic assumption that a university degree will take you places that a "lesser" qualification (like a TAFE NSW diploma) never could. But how accurate is this assumption?

According to LiveSalary, a university degree holder earns a base salary of around $75,000. By comparison, a diploma graduate can reasonably expect to earn a base salary of around $70,000. On the surface of it, the degree holder appears to be better off to the tune of $5,000 per year.

But dig a little deeper and you'll see that it isn't quite as straightforward as that. Once you take into account factors like study duration (a degree generally takes longer than a diploma), cost of training and job availability, that $5,000 a year difference suddenly isn't quite as meaningful.

What is a Diploma?

A TAFE NSW diploma sits above a Certificate IV qualification and below an advanced diploma qualification, to which it's a popular pathway. Both the diploma and advanced diploma levels offer more complex and technical skills and theoretical concepts than the certificate levels cover, and are good at helping people to advance their careers with more specialized, expert knowledge. Graduates at the diploma level will have a broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills that can advance them in almost any area.

Why TAFE NSW?

And it almost goes without saying that a TAFE NSW diploma has the well-known ‘TAFE advantage'. "It's practical, it's very much hands-on," says ex-student James Bruce. "What you learn at TAFE in the classroom is what you use in real life." And James should know. After successfully obtaining his diploma in accounting, he went on to complete the advanced diploma in accounting in 2013."

Susan Jarrett is another holder of a TAFE NSW diploma who went on to forge a killer career for herself. Susan graduated from Sydney TAFE in 2011 with a Diploma of Architectural Technology. Now she runs a successful building design company, Structure Building.

TAFE Illawarra graduate, Ito Rivera, is also in the process of building a great career on the back of a diploma. Ito graduated in 2014 with a Diploma of Children's Services (Early Childhood Education & Care). He was named TAFE Illawarra's International Student of the Year, is now working full-time in childhood education and has an ambitious vision for his future. "I hope to one day have the opportunity to become part of global humanitarian organisations such as UNICEF or World Vision, caring for children across the globe," he said.

Clearly a TAFE NSW Diploma can be a great foundation for a successful career. If this is something you've always considered to be just the "poor cousin" of a university degree, it's time to rethink that outdated and inaccurate notion. Get yourself enrolled for a TAFE NSW diploma qualification and see your own career take off.