What is Recognition of Prior Learning, or RPL?

In the way that an interpreter would take words in one language and convert them into another, RPL converts your experience into a language all employers speak: accredited qualifications.

RPL stands for Recognition of Prior Learning, and it’s the process by which the experience, skills, knowledge and training that a candidate has acquired throughout their career are assessed and converted to nationally recognised qualifications.

This includes:

  • formal and informal learning
  • learning in Australia or overseas
  • paid employment and volunteer work or work experience

RPL acknowledges that not all learning is classroom based, and experience is a valuable part of gaining understanding in a subject or skillset. It’s a holistic approach that takes a rounded look at what you’ve done in your life, prior to your application.

RPL is also an approved assessment method in the Vocational Education and Training sector. It is a part of the Australian Quality Training Framework, the national set of standards developed and regulated by the government to ensure that registered training and assessment services are of a high caliber.

Why do people get RPL?

In today’s competitive market, having accredited qualifications can give you an edge. It shows what you are capable of and knowledgeable in, and demonstrates to employers how you could be an asset to them. People choose to get RPL and find it beneficial for a variety of reasons, but some common ones include:

  • Changing careers/industries
  • Transitioning to civilian life after a service career (Defence, police etc)
  • Re-entering the workforce after a break
  • Advancing their career
  • Enabling them to apply for jobs that require specific qualifications

Here are some examples of people who have attained qualifications through RPL with Churchill:


Anna is an Australian who’d been living in Canada for over ten years. Her career there had gone from strength to strength, and Anna made her way up the ranks to a management position as a Human Resources Development Consultant.

When it was time to come back to Australia, Anna started to look at jobs online and realised she was missing something vital, something that every single employer was asking for- nationally recognised qualifications. Without these, her ten years of experience counted for virtually nothing. Through RPL, Anna obtained two complete, nationally recognised qualifications, a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a BSB51107 Diploma of Management (now superseded by the BSB51918 Diploma of Leadership and Management.), without having to complete any additional coursework.

For Anna, having the qualifications got her foot in the door with the government. Within weeks of her return to Australia, she was hired as an Injury Management Advisor at the NSW Motor Accidents Authority. ‘It literally got me the job,’ she said. ‘Other people had experience too, but I had the qualifications to back it up.’


Christian decided that he needed a lifestyle change after eleven years in the Navy. ‘I was sick of going to sea, sick of going away and missing out on things. It got to the point when I was nearing thirty, and I’d been thinking about it for a while. I needed to either decide to stay and be in it for the long haul, or leave and start a new career.’

Christian worked with our RPL assessors to convert his Defence experience into a BSB51107 Diploma of Management, a BSB51312 Diploma of Work Health and Safety, a CPP51611 Diploma of Security and Risk Management, a BSB41412 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. So, by the time Christian was out of the Navy, he had an impressive list of qualifications on his resume to give him an edge on other applicants who were going for the same jobs.

Find out what you are eligible for

With all those qualifications on board, Christian secured a position as a Learning and Development Advisor for an IT company, not long after leaving the Navy, a position he still holds today.


Fiona was a Sentence Planning Advisor with the Department of Corrective Services in Queensland. She’d been in the job for twenty-eight years but kept being overlooked for promotions, despite her experience. ‘It as because I had nothing to show for it,’ she says. ‘New staff were coming in and they were all fresh out of university with degrees under their belts and here I was, in a position where I’d been around, I knew how things worked, but I didn’t have a degree like they did. That was really frustrating.’

Working with Churchill Education, Fiona found that her experience did indeed count. Through RPL and a bit of extra coursework done in her own time, she was able to make her years of service translate to a PSP50116 Diploma of Government and a BSB51107 Diploma of Management (now superseded by the BSB51918 Diploma of Leadership and Management).

Now, Fiona can hold her head up high amongst her colleagues when it comes to formal qualifications, and she’s hung them on her wall at work to prove it!

At Churchill Education, we have dedicated Skills Advisors who will work with you to understand exactly what you’re looking for, where you’ve been and where you want to go.

When you go through the RPL process, you’ll be required to produce evidence of your knowledge, training and skills. This evidence is then matched with the units of competency (like subjects) within a qualification. This is how you prove your understanding of the material that would otherwise have to be studied in order to earn a qualification.

Matching the evidence to units of competency is called mapping, and once you provide what we need, we take care of the rest. Within 14 days, you can have your qualifications in your hand and on your resume, and the world is your oyster!

Spotlight on: Diploma of WHS

Demand for WHS professionals continues to rise, making this one of our most popular qualifications.

Turn your career experience into qualifications with Recognition of Prior Learning.  Apply for a free assessment today!

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