Studying Alcohol and Other Drugs

Just as there are a variety of job roles in AOD, studying in the AOD field will give you a broad insights into related fields of addiction, mental health, behavior change, forensic clients, public health, community development and public policy among others.

No matter what qualifications you enter the AOD sector with, or where you are up to in your AOD career, you may wish to gain further AOD-specific qualifications.  You can choose anything from individual units of study to a full qualification.  See information of current AOD training being offered by industry based providers.

To ensure that AOD workforce is appropriately and adequately trained and competent to work effectively with clients, you require a minimum skill set upon entering employment in the sector.  These skills and competencies are identified in the Minimum Qualification Strategy (MQS).  In many cases, employers will help you work towards the competencies required by the MQS while you work.

About the Minimum Qualification Strategy

To support a minimum standard of skills among AOD staff, the Department of Health and Human Services introduced a Minimum Qualification Strategy (MQS).

Those who enter the AOD sector without health, social or behavioural science tertiary qualifications will need to demonstrate competence in (or be working towards) qualifications that meet the MQS.  Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) may be available to those seeking the minimum qualifications.

Those who have health, social or behavioral science tertiary qualifications in non AOD courses will need to undertake further studies to meet MQS. This includes the completion of

  • the four core competencies of the MQS or
  • the completion of a Certificate IV or Diploma in Alcohol and other Drugs or
  • an undergraduate degree in AOD or
  • a postgraduate course in AOD

The following four competencies from the Community Services Training Package (CHC) are also known as the CHCSS00093 Alcohol and Other Drugs Skill Set.

CHCAOD001 Work in an alcohol and other drugs context
CHCAOD004 Assess needs of clients with alcohol and other drugs issues
CHCAOD006 Provide interventions for people with alcohol and other drugs issues
CHCAOD009 Develop and review individual alcohol and other drugs treatment plans

The Skill Set may be undertaken while you work in the AOD sector, meaning you need not have completed these competencies before you enter the AOD workforce. You may be able to work towards them over an agreed timeframe. For more information visit the website.

DHHS funding is being provided to Victorian industry based AOD providers of nationally recognized and accredited AOD training to support the MQS process.


Depending on your existing qualifications, and your employer, you may be eligible for assistance with fees or a scholarship towards attaining the minimum qualifications.  Talk to your education and training provider for more details.

Getting Qualified (how to get further qualifications in AOD)

Numerous education providers offer qualifications in AOD, from TAFE institutions to universities and industry based education providers.  Lived experience is also valued in the AOD sector.  Wherever you are up to in your AOD career, there are always more study options to help you advance.  Study areas relevant to AOD work include:

  • Models of addiction – how is it that people become addicted to drugs?
  • Drugs and their effects – what are the physiological effects of drugs on the mind and body?
  • Policy responses to AOD – how do governments set policies to respond to AOD harms?
  • Treatment modalities – what sorts of treatments are there and how do they work?
  • Public health responses to AOD use – how can population scale responses help?
  • AOD and special population groups (dual diagnosis, indigenous, youth, older adult, LGBTIQ+, transcultural) – in what ways do different groups with AOD problems require different responses?
  • Advanced research in AOD – how can you contribute to the knowledge base in AOD?

One of the most effective ways of studying AOD is to study with industry based providers – AOD agencies that are currently providing AOD services to clients and who are also accredited to deliver national qualifications.  These providers have hands-on experience and help translate learning in to practice.  They offer certificate level qualifications in AOD through to a Masters in Addictive Behaviours. Click here for further information on industry AOD based training providers including study options.

Non industry education and training options

As an alternative to an AOD industry RTO, a range of TAFEs and other providers offer qualifications in AOD.   Please check with TAFE Victoria or a higher education provider to learn more about non industry education and training options.   Visit

There is also a range of universities offering related courses in areas such as public health, social work and psychology, among others.  These courses can provide a strong grounding for work in the AOD sector however gaining additional AOD-specific competencies and qualifications can build on these.