How to Achieve a Diploma Qualification as a Single Working Parent

Working from home and taking on studying can be done as a single parent

How do you get a diploma as a single working parent? Juggling employment and young kids is difficult, even more so if you are a single working parent. Of the 7.2 million Australian families, 1.1 million are single-parent households. Single mums head the vast majority (83%) of these households.

Why should I study as a single working parent?

Why would already busy single parents want to increase their load by choosing to study as well? Spare time as a single parent is limited. With financial burdens often a consideration, many single parents take on a second job to help cover living costs. While this is a good short-term solution to money problems, it may not be the wisest long-term solution. Another choice is to return to study, such as an online diploma, to set you up for a healthier future.

Choosing the right course means you’ll learn the skills and knowledge you need to help you get into higher-paying roles in the future. By undertaking a diploma, you are opening yourself up to a wider variety of workplaces. The list of benefits is large and you don’t have to set foot outside the house. Online diplomas allow flexibility and real results.

So, which online course might be the best for you?

What are the best diplomas for single parents?

Many factors can help you choose a diploma that is right for you as a single working parent. Your field of expertise or interest is a good place to help you decide what to study. Here’s how:

Let’s look at a more specific example. Let’s say:

  • Assessing your skills: You have a background in retail with strong client-facing abilities and the skills to match. You’re familiar with sales tactics and enjoy ‘window dressing’ in your retail role.
  • Deciding what you want: Flexibility is important to you, so your dream job would provide opportunities to work remotely across flexible hours. You decide social media management may be an ideal career as you can do it freelance or from home.
  • Matching your skills and goal with a qualification: You discover that a Diploma of Social Media Marketing (10904NAT) will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills you need. Your sales skills and innate understanding of clients and what looks good will lend naturally to this new career direction, too. You can also study it part-time over a year or two so that it works around your job and kids.

You might be looking to move from a full-time to a part-time career, or if you’ve been a stay-at-home parent since having kids, you might not want to jump straight into a full working week. Here are three options that might work for you:

1. Nursing to practice management

Nina has a background in nursing. She wants shift work or a part-time role that will give her a higher income but still allow her to spend plenty of time with her daughter. She also enjoys working in the healthcare industry and doesn’t want to exit it completely. A Diploma of Practice Management (HLT57715) may be a perfect stepping stone for what’s next.

2. Administration to HR

Luke has worked in admin for nine years and has a wealth of skills and knowledge that can be applied across most industries. However, they haven’t been the highest-paying roles. Now that he’s a single dad, he could use a boost in income. Luke decides to take the skills he has and apply them to a Diploma of Human Resource Management (BSB50320). Jobs in HR are higher paying and sometimes have elements that can be done remotely from home, meaning he doesn’t have to sacrifice time with his family to increase his income.

3. Salesperson to business owner

Ashleigh is an entrepreneurial type of person, who’s worked in sales. She has lots of great ideas for products or services of her own. She decides to enrol in a Diploma of Business (BSB50120) so she can gain the tools and confidence to start her own business. Then she can hire a few staff to help and work hours that suit her and her son.

Study Success Guide: How to Study when you have no Time

How can I find time to study online?

If you are working as well as parenting, well done! The key to success from this point onwards is time management, which is any parent’s best asset. To begin, evaluate how many hours a week can be set aside to study.

Are you sitting on the bus or train for an hour on your way to work? Use that time to study (perhaps by using your phone as a hotspot to your laptop). You might like to alter your existing work hours, so you are not travelling at peak times. Another option is to take your annual leave more frequently, such as one day a fortnight and dedicate that time to study. Even getting up half an hour earlier each day frees up about 15 hours a month.

Remember to be realistic. Do your research about which state and federal government assistance you might be able to receive and put that money towards a babysitter or childcare. You can also ask for help from friends, family, colleagues or a neighbour. Our online courses offer support from experienced learning coaches who have lots of tips and resources to offer.

Support yourself with a framework

Take time to set up a home study area and make your space as comfortable as possible. Shop around for a second-hand desk and ergonomic chair. Get a pot plant, a fishbowl or anything that ‘softens’ your study space and makes you feel good to be there.

Try to stick to a regular study routine in terms of hours per week as repetition breeds retention.

Don’t feel guilty about taking frequent breaks – schedule them as part of your day so you can stay fresh and focused. Remember that you are investing in a better work-life balance, a higher salary and the pride of saying, “I did that!”

What can I expect when I finish my diploma?

More Australians than ever are finding the value in more education. In 2006, 46% of Australians held a post-school qualification. Within a decade, that had jumped to 56% and has shown no sign of slowing down since. Employers are hungry for qualified and job-ready applicants to fill vacancies.

Qualifications open many doors, especially those endorsed by the industry’s governing body. Upon completing your diploma, you’ll have a broader range of job opportunities with a choice between full-time, part-time, or casual work. You’ll also be able to apply for higher-paying jobs that will create a stronger foundation for your financial future.

More industries are moving to an ‘off-site’ or working from home (WFH) model, where employees no longer need to travel to a designated workplace. You’ll have a head start on being seen as self-directed and reliable compared to others who have not recently studied. Employers generally look favourably at an employee taking the initiative to self-improve and up-skill by studying online. Setting and communicating your career goals is the key to promotion and gaining a diploma qualification is a milestone step in that direction.

Gaining a diploma proves you are willing to invest in yourself. If you can manage that successfully (and you can) while juggling a family as a single working parent, that is even more impressive. Back yourself and go for it!