Courses during a career break

Short courses are a way to quickly gain practical skills and experience during parental leave or a career break. There are a range of subjects to choose from across many industries. 

In this section you can find information on:

University short courses

Open Universities Australia (OUA) is a partnership between many Australian universities. It offers a wide range of:

  • professional development courses, which can be completed in less than half a day
  • single subject units, which generally run from 3-13 weeks

Single subject units cover diverse industries, including:

  • arts and humanities
  • business
  • education
  • health
  • information technology 
  • law and justice
  • science and engineering

Most OUA single unit subjects have no entry requirements and can be paid for with a HELP loan.


More than professional development courses, micro-credentials are mini qualifications and learning experiences designed to continually expand an employee's skill set. They can be:

  • developed in-house or by an agency for a specific employer, or
  • offered by private and tertiary education providers

Micro-credentials can be a single module of study or form part of an extended learning pathway. Duration could be from a few days spread over a month, to a semester, and beyond. 

Many of the semester-length, single unit subjects referred to above in Course Finder and OUA could be classed as micro-credentials.

Assessment varies, but might include a combination of:

  • formal assignments
  • attending lectures, webinars or conferences
  • practical tests or a workplace demonstration

You can read more about the benefits of micro-credentials in these articles from:

Community and continuing education colleges

The community and continuing education sector has a unique focus on making learning affordable and accessible. Its wide variety of courses, locations and flexible timetables can help you:

  • improve or expand existing skills
  • gain new training in preparation for a career change
  • explore a personal interest for individual growth or development

Classes are often scheduled across multiple weeks and can be held during the day,  evening and on weekends.

An increasing number of courses are offered online as adult and community education (ACE) providers:

  • update courses with a greater mix of digital content
  • develop their technical and teaching resources to improve online delivery

TAFE NSW Digital

TAFE NSW is the largest online education provider in Australia. In addition to its in-class vocational programs, TAFE NSW Digital has developed over 250 online courses:

  • offering flexible learning options so you can adapt study around your family commitments and lifestyle
  • that range from short courses and certificates, to Diploma and Advanced Diploma level, and Degrees
  • conducted in real-time with teachers and fellow students via live virtual classrooms, forums and chat bots

Not all courses have entry criteria but some have mandatory conditions such as licensing or regulatory requirements. 

Courses range across numerous industry sectors, including, but not limited to:

  • environmental studies
  • arts, design and media
  • business, information and technology
  • community services and health care