Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis

This qualification covers the skills and knowledge required by technical specialists who already have a relevant higher education or vocational qualification, or have extensive vocational experience without formal qualifications and require the competence to develop or adapt analytical methods and operate and troubleshoot advanced analytical instruments.

This qualification was developed in response to a widespread industry shortage of technicians who have more than 'a black box' knowledge of analytical instruments and an ability to optimise them for specific analytical methods and samples. It replaces a non-Training Package qualification and has strong industry support.

Job roles/employment outcomes

The Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis provides training in advanced instrumental analysis techniques for individuals who already have some previous training or work experience in laboratory operations at AQF V or higher. Employment outcomes targeted by this qualification include senior technical officers, senior technical specialists, analysts and similar personnel.

Senior technical officers who undertake analysis using advanced analytical instrumentation are able to:

conduct a wide range of complex and specialised tests

exercise considerable analytical and judgemental skills to determine appropriate methods and procedures from a range of alternatives

install and configure a range of accessories that extend the capability of analytical instruments

modify methods to cope with non-routine tests and analyses where unusual samples could be involved

develop or adapt methods and procedures

optimise and troubleshoot the performance of analytical instruments by applying a specialised knowledge of the sample characteristics, instrument sub-systems and analytical procedure problems/remedies

maintain analytical instruments fit for purpose.

Senior technical officers require both broad and highly specialised knowledge and skills. For example, they need to be able to:

apply complex chemical principles to prepare samples and separate species effectively

apply complex principles associated with heat, temperature, fluid flow, behaviour of gases, ionisation, interaction of ionised particles with electric/magnetic fields and the electromagnetic spectrum to understand the design of sample injection systems, instrument pathways, detection and control systems

interpret complex technical manuals and test methods and apply logical and lateral thinking, fault finding and troubleshooting skills to optimise instruments and methods

apply a detailed knowledge of measurement principles (accuracy, precision and calculation of uncertainties),calibration and quality control procedures to instrumental analysis

Senior technical officers work under broad direction from scientists/medical staff/engineers and accept responsibility for the day-to-day operation of their work/functional area (This may include responsibility for conducting analyses using one or more specific instruments).

In the course of their normal work, they:

plan, allocate and monitor resources for their work area and are responsible for their work group's outputs

explain complex instructions and procedures to others

define and solve complex problems by investigating, developing and testing alternatives in response to vague or ill-defined information which is not readily accessible and requires selective analysis

liaise with clients, suppliers and contractors on technical matters

provide technical information to internal and external customers.

An example of the work of a senior technical officer is given below.

A senior technical officer works in forensic science laboratory and may use advanced chromatography techniques (GC-MS) and micro-spectrophotometric techniques (UV/VIS/NIR and FTIR) to analyse samples collected at crime scenes.

A senior technical officer works in an environmental monitoring laboratory and may use ICP-MS to measure the presence of heavy metal ions in water.

A senior technical officer works for a major pharmaceutical company and may undertake pharmacokinetic studies using LC-MS techniques to establish the time taken for selected company products to be eliminated from the human body.

This qualification applies to experienced senior technical officers and technical specialists who conduct instrumental analysis in laboratories providing consultancy, research and development and quality assurance services. These services may be provided for a wide range of industry sectors, such as forensic science, biomedical, environmental monitoring, food and beverage processing, pharmaceuticals and many other kinds of testing of manufactured products.


Packaging Rules

To be awarded a Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis, competency must be achieved in a total of eleven (11) units of competency, consisting of:

seven (7) core units of competency

four (4) elective units of competency.

Units listed under core are considered essential for all technical specialists. The units listed as electives may only apply to some personnel according to the size and scope of the particular enterprise and the instrumental techniques employed in the laboratory.

Note: Units marked with an asterisk have one or more prerequisite requirements and must be considered in the total number of units. Please refer to individual units for details.

Core units of competency

Select all seven (7) units of competency listed below.

Unit code

Unit title


add topic MSL944001A

Maintain laboratory/field safety

add topic MSL974001A

Prepare, standardise and use solutions

add topic MSL924001A

Process and interpret data

add topic MSL925002A

Analyse measurements and estimate uncertainties


add topic MSL976003A

Evaluate and select appropriate test methods and/or procedures

add topic MSL977003A

Contribute to the validation of test methods


add topic MSL977004A

Develop or adapt analyses and procedures


Elective units of competency

Select four (4) elective units of competency from Groups A and B, as specified below:

a minimum of one (1) unit must be chosen from Group A

the remainder may be chosen from Groups A and B, to bring the total number of electives to four (4).

Group A

Unit code

Unit title


add topic MSL977006A

Apply specialised knowledge of gas chromatography techniques to analysis

add topic MSL977007A

Apply specialised knowledge of liquid chromatography techniques to analysis

add topic MSL977008A

Apply specialised knowledge of inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy to analysis

Group B

Unit code

Unit title


add topic MSL977009A

Apply advanced ultraviolet, visible and near infra red spectroscopic techniques to analysis

add topic MSL977010A

Apply advanced infra red spectroscopic techniques to analysis

add topic MSL977011A

Contribute to the selection, commissioning and maintenance of analytical instruments

Two (2) electives relevant to instrumental analysis may be chosen from this Training Package, other endorsed Training Packages and accredited courses where those units are available at Diploma or above.

Registered Training Organisations should seek a determination from Manufacturing Skills Australia regarding the suitability of any unit proposed for use in this qualification.


    Pathways into the qualification

    Entrants to the Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis are required to have one of the following:

    relevant extensive vocational practice without formal qualifications

    a relevant Diploma or Advanced Diploma, such as MSL50109 Diploma of Laboratory Technology or MSL60109 Advanced Diploma of Laboratory Operations, together with significant relevant vocational practice

    a Bachelor Degree in Science in a relevant discipline, such as chemistry, biochemistry, forensic science, environmental science, physics, geology or food technology

    a relevant higher education qualification, with relevant vocational practice.

    For the purposes of this qualification, the term 'vocational practice' is defined as experience of:

    performing a wide range of instrumental analysis in a laboratory that provides consultancy, research and development or quality assurance services

    installing, commissioning and maintaining analytical instruments for a company that manufactures/supplies instruments.

Entry Requirements

Not applicable.

Licensing Information

There are no specific licences that relate to this qualification. However, depending on the jurisdiction, licensing or regulatory requirements may apply to the use of some units in this qualification. Local regulations should be checked for details.

Employability Skills


Employability Skill

Industry/enterprise requirements for this qualification include:


Liaise with clients, suppliers and other laboratory personnel about technical matters (e.g. samples, testing methods, advanced analytical equipment)

Interpret complex test methods and technical procedures

Explain complex technical problems, issues and possible solutions

Prepare complex technical reports and submissions

Obtain 'sign off' for results and/or outputs from relevant persons


Work autonomously or as part of a team

Contribute to developing and/or validating test methods and analytical procedures

Contribute to improving the quality of laboratory services

Problem solving

Analyse data quality issues

Determine root causes of problems with sample preparation, testing procedures and/or advanced analytical instrument performance

Evaluate options for quality improvements, corrective and/or preventative actions

Initiative and enterprise

Research current and new technical developments and assess their significance for the laboratory or own job role

Network with other technical specialists to extend own knowledge

Recognise opportunities for quality improvements and recommend improvement strategies

Planning and organising

Prioritise work activities

Determine resource requirements and organise/optimise resource use in work area

Organise schedules to optimise work outputs without sacrificing quality

Adjust plans to suit new information, changing conditions and priorities


Manage own time and establish own work schedule

Monitor and evaluate own work quality

Maintain professional and ethical standards in own work

Comply with legislative requirements, codes of practice and organisational policies and procedures


Identify opportunities for own learning

Maintain current technical knowledge of instrumental analytical techniques used in job role


Set up and optimise advanced analytical instruments to obtain reliable results

Conduct routine maintenance of advanced analytical instruments used in job role

Use instrument control software, laboratory information management systems, information directories, databases, online data search facilities and computer networks.