How do you go about gaining a skills assessment?

We’ve written about gaining a skills assessment as an IT professional with an Australian degree and those are pretty straightforward, but what about those with qualifications attained overseas? What about those of you who have plenty of experience in the field but did not complete your studies in subjects closely related to your profession?

Read: Staying in Australia with a Degree in IT

Here are Australian Computer Society’s (ACS’s) guidelines to what the requirements an IT professional (holding overseas qualifications) needs to meet for a positive skills assessment are.

(Taken from the ACS website)


* ‘last 10 years’ is the 10 year period immediately before the point of application and ‘anytime in past work history’ would mean total years of experience in your lifetime.

Let’s go through a few examples:

  • Jesse has a degree in IT majoring in Computer Engineering from India and has worked as a software engineer for 1 year. His qualifications are closely related to his occupation and he falls into Category 1. Jesse will need at least further year’s experience to achieve a suitable skills assessment.
  • Paati has a degree in IT majoring in Computer Engineering from India and has worked as a multimedia specialist for 5 years. Her qualifications and occupation are not closely related. She falls into Category 2. Because has more than enough work experience, she would obtain a suitable skills assessment.
  • Takayo has a Diploma in Information Technology Systems from Japan and has worked as a web developer for 4 years. His qualifications and occupation are not closely related and he falls into Category 6. As such he needs at least 6 years of experience for a suitable skills assessment. He needs a further 2 years of experience.


Assessing Education

When is anything visa related ever straightforward? Your qualifications will not be taken at face value. ACS will assess if your qualifications meet Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) levels or simply put, the Australian standards. This means that there may be a chance that whilst your educational institution would have defined your qualifications at a certain level, ACS may consider your qualifications to be at a different level.


Vendor certifications

Some Microsoft and Cisco certifications are considered to be comparable to graduating with an ICT major at the AFQ Diploma level. If you are using these certifications, they must be valid at the time you make your skills assessment application.

For the full list, please read the official ACS guidelines here.


Assessing Employment

For employment to be considered, you will need to have worked for at least 20 hours a week. Employment must also not have been part of gaining qualifications.

In the same way as assessing education, employment that you think is related may be assessed differently by the ACS. Employment needs to happen at a professional level as well as be relevant to the nominated occupation.

How do you know how ACS assesses education and employment?


Closely related

How do you determine if your qualifications and your work experience are closely related to the occupation that you are nominating? ACS thankfully takes out the guess work with a document that sets these parameters for you. Under each occupation in this document, ACS expands on the both it’s expected job description and core related study units. You should, through this, be able to determine if your work experience and qualifications are closely related or not.

As you would be able to tell from the table above, work experience will need to be related to your nominated occupation, but it is not the end of the world if your qualifications are not considered closely related. You just need more experience under your belt.


Deemed skilled

This bit is only applicable to those getting skilled assessments for general skilled migration (GSM) visas (subclass 189,190 and 489). If you are not applying for any of these, you can ignore this section.

In the table above, the minimum work experience in a closely related occupation (to your nominated occupation) is also the point at which you would be ‘deemed skilled’. ACS calls this the ‘skill requirement met date’. An applicant looking to claim skilled employment points can only claim experience held after their ‘skill requirement met date’. This means that a person with an closely related overseas Bachelor’s degree with 4 years of overseas work experience will only be able to claim experience after meeting the minimum skill level after 2 years of experience.


We won’t get into the details here because we wrote a comprehensive guide to this recently.

Read: Claiming Skilled Employment Points on the Points Test 



As you can tell, ACS assesses each applicant’s qualifications and work experience quite extensively. For them to be able to do this, your supporting documents will have to be equally thorough.

As you would expect, identity documents – birth certificate or passport, and qualification documents – graduating certificate, academic transcript are part of the document checklist. If you hold a Masters, you will need to provide evidence of your Bachelors, and if you hold a Doctorate, you must have evidence of your Masters and Bachelors.

Evidence surrounding employment is a little trickier. You will need employment references for all the experience you wish to include. Each reference must have the following:

  • Start and finish dates of employment
  • Detailed job description
  • Hours worked
  • Country or countries employment was undertaken
  • Be on a company letterhead
  • Be signed by your employer or authorised person, complete with the person’s position and contact details

If you have been self employed your reference will come in the form of a statutory Declaration. You will also need to provide other supporting documents such as business registration certificates, statements from your accountant and statements from clients. You can read more about submission of documents for self employment on the ACS guidelines which you can find here.

All documents are required to be certified. The application is made online here and the processing time is around 12 weeks. Priority processing is available if you have a visa deadline that falls under 12 weeks. You will need to provide evidence of your visa deadline (document that shows the expiry date of your visa).

If your application is unsuccessful, you may be recommended to nominate a different occupation for which you would be successful. Otherwise, you may apply for a review, which allows you to change the occupation for which you were applied to be assessed as skilled for, or pad your application with more work experience or qualifications. Finally, you may appeal your application, which calls for a reassessment but will not allow you to alter your application. Further fees apply for all these scenarios.

ACS is quite comprehensive in their guides and we urge that you visit their site and fully digest all the information they have provided. Decision ready applications are required (all the necessary documents with all the necessary information) so you will save yourself some heartache if you give this application proper attention.

In case you’ve missed it above, here is their official guideline to skills assessment applications