The Difference Between an RPL & a Credit Transfer


Australia’s education system for trades and other vocational studies is comprehensive. It offers a variety of options for those from all backgrounds and abilities to get the certificates and diplomas they need for every job. One of the main advantages offered is getting Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or a credit transfer if you already have the skills, knowledge or education required for a specific certificate or diploma. One of the commonly asked questions is, how do these two differ from each other? In this article we explain how credit transfers and an RPL work and when you would need either of them.

How RPL’s Work

To put it very simply, when you already have the experience, education and skills of a specific trade: this is when you can look into getting an RPL assessment. This certification basically shows that you already have all the necessary skills and experience to get the qualification. The RPL process involves you submitting a portfolio that shows all the skills and experience you have gained throughout the years that gives you the same proficiency as those who have undertaken a course. This means that you already know your stuff and have been doing it for a while so there’s no necessity for you to study upfront. However, this of course does depend on if your RPL assessment is successful. Once you submit your portfolio to an RTO, it will be given to an assessor. They will look at all the evidence you have provided to see if your RPL can be granted. Occasionally, you might be asked for a follow up interview to better understand your competence. Talking to an education support provider to help you prepare your portfolio will help make this process less stressful.

How Credit Transfers Work

A credit transfer, on the other hand, is a different story altogether. A credit transfer is when you have already studied a specific unit in a different course and want to transfer that over to a course you are currently undertaking so as to not repeat the unit. You can do this if you are able to provide a Statement of Attainment or Transcript that shows the unit(s) codes. This way your education institution can cross check it with the units of your current course to see if any of your previous units are eligible to be transferred over. The tricky thing with this is that sometimes the content of similar units changes, and sometimes they have changed enough that you need to study the unit again. So, credit transfers can only work in very specific circumstances. For example, if you were hoping to get a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery – SIT40516: a credit transfer can be useful if you have previously done units for Certificate III in Commercial Cookery – SIT30816. However, if you have experience working as a Chef and being part of the commercial kitchen space, RPL might serve you better as it will recognise the skills you have.

Understand your options for Certification in Australia

As mentioned earlier, there are many opportunities for education, upskilling and certification in Australia. The best way to make full use of them is to know and acknowledge the skills/qualifications you have and have a goal for where you want to be in your career. If you know this, you can easily decide where to invest your time, money and efforts when it comes to getting qualifications.