Differences Between the Cert III, IV and a Diploma of Community Services 

This article breaks down the most common questions about the differences between these qualifications.  

Every year, thousands of Australians are joining the community services sector1 to be part of ‘a powerful force for change across Australian communities’2.

One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘What’s the difference between the Certificate III, Certificate IV and Diploma of these courses?’ 


Short Answer – the Higher Qualifications Enable You to Work with Greater Independence

You can think of the Certificate III as an entry-level course, the Certificate IV as a mid-level job course, and the Diploma as a management level qualification. Workers with a Certificate III in Community Services will work under the direction of others. Certificate IV in Community Service Workers will often be able to work independently but with limited responsibility. Workers with the Diploma of Community Services can manage and coordinate projects with even more autonomy. 


Your career goals will help you decide which qualification is right for you. 


The Certificate III Breakdown 

A Certificate III in Community Services reflect the role of entry-level community services workers who support individuals through the provision of person-centred services. Work may include day-to-day support of individuals in community settings or support the implementation of specific community-based programs. At this level, work takes place under the direction of others and supervision may be direct or indirect. Work may take place in a range of community services organisations. 


Possible Occupations of a Certificate III in Community Services

  • Residential support worker
  • Indigenous intake and referral worker
  • Community care worker
  • Client contact
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community development worker
  • Weekend recreational activities officer
  • Welfare support worker
  • Support worker (community services)
  • Recreational activities officer
  • Neighbourhood centre worker
  • Youth worker
  • Juvenile justice officer
  • Youth housing support worker
  • Assistant community worker
  • Youth caseworker
  • Youth support worker
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander youth worker
  • Accommodation support worker


 The Certificate IV in Community Services Breakdown 

This qualification reflects the role of community service workers who design and deliver person-centred services to individuals and/or groups. Workers may provide support, advocacy or interventions to individual clients, groups, or communities across a range of services. At this level, workers may be autonomous with limited responsibility within established parameters and may be required to supervise and lead other workers in projects or teams. Work may take place in a range of community service, casework or case management contexts.’ 


Possible Occupations of this Course 

  • Aboriginal health education officer
  • Community support worker
  • Domestic violence worker
  • Women’s health educator
  • Caseworker (community services)
  • Outreach officer
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander
  • Intake and referral worker
  • Early intervention homelessness worker
  • Peak organisation worker
  • Community education worker
  • Welfare support worker
  • Court support worker
  • Support worker (community services)
  • Information and referral worker
  • Personal adviser
  • Health education officer
  • Community legal officers
  • Welfare rights worker
  • Tenant advice and advocacy worker
  • Family support worker
  • Phone advice worker.


The Diploma in Community Services Breakdown 

This qualification reflects the roles of:

  • community services
  • case management and
  • social housing workers

These roles are involved in the managing, coordinating and/or delivering of person-centred services to individuals, groups and communities. At this level, workers have specialised skills in community services and work autonomously under broad directions from senior management. Workers are usually providing direct support to individuals or groups of individuals. Workers may also have responsibility for the supervision of other workers and volunteers and/or case management; program coordination or the development of new business opportunities. 


To achieve this qualification, the candidate must have completed at least 100 hours of work as detailed in the Assessment Requirements of (the) units of competency. But our placement hours are set for 120 hours to ensure that you receive an industry-leading learning experience.’ 


Possible career outcomes of this Diploma 

  • Community care manager
  • Coordinator of volunteer work
  • Team leader
  • Care team leader
  • Family services coordinator
  • Support facilitator (community services)
  • Community housing resources worker
  • Community development worker for social housing
  • Community recreation coordinator
  • Housing manager
  • Housing assistant
  • Assistant community worker
  • Community worker
  • Aboriginal housing worker
  • Community services coordinator
  • Case coordinator (disability)
  • Youth housing support worker
  • Family support worker
  • Community access coordinator
  • Pastoral care counsellor
  • Aboriginal neighbourhood house coordinator
  • Case coordinator (community services)
  • Welfare support worker
  • Senior youth worker
  • Disability team leader
  • Support facilitator (disability)
  • Community housing worker
  • Community work coordinator
  • Early intervention worker
  • Community program coordinator
  • Pastoral care worker
  • Assistant community services worker


Find Out More – The Complete Course Descriptions 

If you want to find out more about Community Services qualifications:


Certificate III in Community Services. 

Certificate IV in Community Services. 

Diploma of Community Services. 


If you have any specific questions about the courses, send us an enquiry and one of our learning consultants will contact you with more information. 



¹ https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-11/Australian%20Jobs%20Report%202020.pdf 

² https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/role/nurse