If you have at least 3 to 5 years of bookkeeping experience and are currently running your own contract bookkeeping business, you may be eligible for RPL for some of the units of competency in the FNS40222 Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting. 

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Bookkeeping Institute of Australia requires those applying for RPL to undertake in full the following assessments, which are core subjects in the FNS40222 Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, and these subjects must be completed before the RPL process:

FNSTPB41 -  Complete Business activity and instalment activity statements

FNSTPB402 -  Establish and maintain payroll systems

  The RPL assessment process

The RPL process formally assesses your current experience and skills and identifies any further training needed to complete in order to obtain a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping. The process involves:

  1. Completing an application form which will enable assessment of suitability for RPL.

  2. A face-to-face interview or telephone/video conference on your knowledge, skills, experience and abilities.

  3. Providing written evidence of your knowledge, skills, experience and academic achievements.

  4. Completing a number of assessments/challenge tasks that fill in the gaps in your skills.

If you would like to proceed with the RPL process, you will need to first contact Debra Lewis, enrol in the RPL, and complete a standard enrolment form as well as an RPL Application Form.  

  What is RPL?

“Recognition of prior learning, also referred to as RPL or recognition of current competencies, is the formal recognition of a person's current skills and knowledge, no matter how, when or where the learning occurred. Even if you have never formally studied or trained in a particular area, you may have gained knowledge and skills through your education, training, work and life experience.”            

SourceDETA Qld

RPL is an assessment process that assesses the individual's non-formal and informal learning to determine the extent to which that individual has achieved the required learning outcomes, competency outcomes, or standards for entry to and/or partial or total completion of a qualification.

RPL is about recognising existing learning outcomes rather than how, when or where the learning occurred.  For example, if you are a Financial Services student and you have already worked in that field, you will know some of the content of the course. RPL is a way of getting credit for this learning, which may reduce the amount of time you spend studying. RPL gives you credit for your life skills – skills and knowledge you have acquired at work, home or through clubs and hobbies. 

 RPL assessment processes

In order to recognise prior learning, it is necessary to:

  • Compare the informal or non-formal learning the individual has achieved against the learning outcomes or performance criteria of the course or qualification for which the student is using as a basis for seeking entry or the award of credit

  • Determine appropriate evidence to support the claim of prior learning

The processes used to assess RPL applications may take the following forms, which are not mutually exclusive:

  1. Participation in exactly the same or modified versions of the assessment unit (i.e. recognition of a current competency)

  2. Assessment based on a portfolio of evidence

  3. Direct observation of demonstration of skill or competence

  4. Reflective papers , journals or portfolios that relate past learning to the learning or competency outcomes of the current course or qualification

  5. Provision of examples of the student work drawn from the workplace, social, community or other settings in which the student applies their learning, skill or competence

  6. Testimonials  of learning, skill or competence; and combinations of any of the above

 Steps in the RPL process

Step 1 – Provide information about your skills and experience

Complete the RPL questionnaire and provide as much information about your previous experience in the financial services and bookkeeping industries as you can. This is your first opportunity (but not the last) to provide proof of your variety of experience in the industry.  Here you can supply examples of your work history which could include:

General employment documents

  • detailed CV or work history

  • position descriptions

  • certificates/results of the assessment

  • details of in-house courses, workshops, seminars, orientation or induction sessions

  • references/letters from previous employers/supervisors

Workplace documents (NB: please block out any confidential client information)

  • task sheets / job sheets

  • documents you have produced that show you can use software (eg. letters, memos, spreadsheets)

  • copies of equipment maintenance registers you have completed (eg. organising printer repairs and service, equipment log books)

  • financial reports and period-end financial statements you have prepared

  • taxation documents and reconciliations you have completed

  • working papers for operational budgets you have prepared

  • asset and inventory records you have maintained

  • file notes or memos showing where you have provided advice in a legal contex

  • any other documentation that may demonstrate industry experience


Step 2 – Conversation with Assessor

An assessor will review the information provided and begin to match up the skills to the units/subjects in the qualification.   At this point, there will be the opportunity to discuss and identify previous experience with the assessor, who will understand the industry experience and conduct a competency conversation.  The student will be required to answer financial services industry-related questions to identify current skills.   If not located in the same city as the assessor this conversation will take place via telephone/video.

Step 3 – Practical demonstration of your skills

If appropriate and possible, the assessor will conduct a practical skills test at the workplace or at another suitable venue. This, again, is an opportunity to demonstrate the level of competence. This assessment will be focussed on skills that are required in the qualification. The assessor will identify the skills that are required to demonstrate.

Further steps

After completion of the above, your assessor provides information about the skills that have been recognised. If skill gaps have been identified, these may be addressed through flexible training and specific assessments.

 How to check my skills against the course information?

Read through the course outlines on our website ( and determine if you can demonstrate or provide evidence that you have the skills and knowledge in the areas covered in the units.

Then you should read the detailed information on the units and the competency/learning outcomes that you wish to be assessed against, and then compare them with your own knowledge and skills before deciding whether you want to apply for RPL. This detailed information can be found by searching on the unit code at the National Training Information Service.  The National Training Information Service (NTIS) is a database on vocational education and training in Australia. NTIS is the official national register of information on Training Packages, Qualifications, Courses, Units of Competency and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

Once you have completed your application for RPL with BIA, we will email you an RPL kit and application form, which contains details of all of the competency units, including the elements, performance criteria, skills and knowledge required for all of the units.

 Available support

The RPL Process is designed to be as fair, flexible and supportive as possible. If at any time throughout the application process, you require additional information or clarification, please contact your trainer/assessor at first instance or if the matter cannot be answered/resolved.

 Who can apply for Recognition of Prior Learning?

Anyone who believes they have the skills and knowledge identified in the outcomes of a unit is encouraged to apply for RPL. The following factors may help you decide whether an application will succeed.

  • Do you have the underpinning knowledge required in the unit?

  • Can you demonstrate the skills required in the unit?

  • Can you apply the knowledge and skills in a work situation?

  • Can you apply the knowledge and skills in a range of work situations?

  • Are your knowledge and skills current?

  • Can you provide evidence of your skills and knowledge ?

 Guidelines for supplying evidence

AQTF Standards state that assessment must be based on what is sometimes termed the 'rules of evidence' - validity, reliability, fairness and flexibility.  This is also good teaching and assessment practice and ensures the best learning outcome for students.  

Evidence plays a critical role in the Recognition of Prior Learning processes, as it is on this basis the decision to grant RPL is made. When supplying evidence to support an RPL application, it is important the evidence is:

  • Valid. Evidence must focus on the specified skills and knowledge in the Performance Criteria and Evidence Guide of the unit of competency.

  • Sufficient. Evidence must satisfy all elements of the unit of competency, taking into account the Range of Variables and Evidence Guide. To ensure you are supplying enough evidence, it may be necessary to use supplementary sources such as – verbal confirmation, written testimonials, completed performance appraisals, certificates, job descriptions or third-party reports.

  • Authentic. Evidence must relate to the performance of the person applying for RPL, not that of another person.

  • Current. This is a particularly important aspect, as you must be able to demonstrate your evidence is still relevant and current according to the competency requirements. As a general rule, if the evidence is over two years old, it’s probably too old unless you have been continually working in that environment and applying those skills and knowledge.

 Tips and hints to help prepare for recognition

To have skills formally recognised in the national system, assessors must make sure you have the skills and knowledge to meet the industry standard. Assessment happens in a variety of ways.  Being prepared can save you valuable time and hassle and make the recognition process stress-free.

Here are some tips and hints for you:

  1. At your interview, be prepared to talk about job roles and work history.   Provide a resume and jot down a few points about where worked, either paid or unpaid, and what was performed.

  2. Bring the position description and any performance appraisals.

  3. Consider the possibilities for workplace contact. 

  4. Think about who can confirm skill levels. Think about current or recent supervisors who have seen your work in the past 18 months and will be able to confirm the skills. The assessor will need to contact them. There may be also community contacts or even clients themselves who can vouch for skill levels.

  5. Collect any certificates from in-house training or formal training undertaken.

  6. Letters from employers, records of professional development sessions, employers or clients in related industries or government agencies, acknowledgements, workplace forms or other relevant documents.

 Evidence Guide

Please include as much evidence as possible with the RPL application to give your trainer/assessor enough information to assess the competencies.  

The following are the main types of evidence to include:

  • CV or resume

  • Signed, original references and letters from past employers outlining your responsibilities and achievements

  • Certified copies of AQF qualifications eg. Statements of Attainments, Certificates, Diplomas, Degree

  • Awards or certificates at work or through prior studies

  • Examples of work completed (this evidence may be documents, photographs, or videos)

  • Observation. The Institute may arrange for a demonstration of your competency to BIA trainers/assessors

Note – this is not an exhaustive list.

 Appeal options

Applicants will have the opportunity to appeal the RPL decision made by the Institute via the Compliments, Complaints & Appeals procedure.  See further information about complaints and appeals in this Student Handbook or on the Institute website.