How to Start Your Own Registered Training Organisation (RTOs) Leave a comment


Starting your own Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in Australia is a commendable ambition. The first step is understanding the RTO registration process. It is not just about submitting an RTO registration application; it is about aligning with the standards of the Australian Skills Quality Authority and navigating the intricacies of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

This guide aims to simplify the complexities of starting an RTO. From the importance of a robust RTO business plan to the ins and outs of the RTO audit process, we will provide a clear roadmap. Whether new to the National Vocational Education world or a seasoned educator, this guide is your key to unlocking success in the training sector.

Understanding the Basics

Before establishing an RTO, it is crucial to grasp the foundational elements. Here is a breakdown:

Key Authorities and Frameworks:

  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA): The primary organisation responsible for regulating and ensuring quality standards of RTOs.
  • Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF): A structured system that defines the levels of educational qualifications in Australia.
  • VET Quality Framework: Ensures the nation’s vocational education and training system delivers quality student training services.

RTO Registration Essentials:

  • RTO Registration Application: The initial form that needs submission to kickstart the registration process.
  • Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool: This tool is designed to assess an aspiring RTO’s financial stability and long-term sustainability.
  • Scope of Registration: Defines the specific qualifications, units of competency, and accredited courses an RTO is approved to deliver.

Key Processes to Be Aware Of:

  • RTO Audit Process: A rigorous assessment to ensure compliance with national standards.
  • Data Provision Requirements: Obligations related to data submission, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • Annual Registration Fee: A recurring fee to maintain RTO status.

By understanding these basics, you are better equipped to navigate the complexities of the RTO landscape.

The Registration Process

Navigating the RTO registration can seem daunting, but with a clear roadmap, the journey becomes more manageable. Here is a step-by-step breakdown:

Preparation Phase:

  • Documentation: Gather all relevant materials for your submission. This can range from training resources to business plans.
  • Financial Viability: Utilise the Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool to ensure your RTO’s economic sustainability.
  • Initial Application: Complete the RTO registration application with all necessary details.

Submission and Assessment:

  • Lodgement: Submit your application via ASQAnet and pay the associated lodgement fee.
  • ASQA Review: The Australian Skills Quality Authority conducts an initial completeness check, ensuring all documentation is in order.
  • Assessment Fee: Upon passing the initial review, an assessment fee invoice is issued.

Audit and Validation:

  • Desktop Audit: ASQA reviews your self-assessment, policies, procedures, training strategies, and more.
  • Validation: This can be an on-site audit or digital means, focusing on the quality of training and assessment.


  • Registration Status: Successful applications are granted a 2-year initial registration with specific conditions.
  • Feedback: If there are areas of improvement or non-compliance, ASQA provides feedback for rectification

Understanding each registration process step ensures a smoother journey towards establishing a successful RTO.

Market Research and Strategy

To ensure the success of your RTO, a deep understanding of the market landscape is essential. Here is how to approach it:

Identifying Your Target Market:

  • Local vs. International: Determine if your courses cater to local students, international students, or both.
  • Niche Specialisation: Identify specific sectors or industries with a demand for training.

Competitive Analysis:

  • Existing RTOs: Research other Registered Training Organisations offering similar courses.
  • Gap Identification: Determine what unique value or courses you can offer that others might not.

Engaging with the Industry:

  • Feedback Collection: Speak to employers, industry leaders, and potential students to understand their needs and expectations.
  • Adjustment: Refine your courses based on the feedback received to ensure they meet industry standards and demands.

Strategic Planning:

  • Course Offerings: Decide on the courses you will provide, considering both demand and your expertise.
  • Pricing Strategy: Determine a competitive yet profitable pricing structure for your courses.
  • Promotion: Plan how you will market your RTO, considering online and offline channels.

Essential Market Research Tools:

Tool Description
Surveys Gather feedback from potential students and stakeholders.
Industry Reports Access data on trends, demands, and gaps in the market.
Competitor Websites Analyse course offerings, pricing, and marketing tactics.

Compliance and Regulations

Navigating the regulatory landscape is crucial for any RTO. Here is a concise guide to ensuring your RTO remains compliant:

Understanding Key Regulatory Bodies:

  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA): The main regulatory body overseeing RTOs, ensuring quality and compliance.
  • Training Accreditation Council: Recognises training providers and accredits courses, ensuring they meet quality standards.

Key Compliance Areas:

  • VET Quality Framework: RTOs are expected to comply with a specific set of standards and conditions, ensuring quality training and assessment.
  • RTO 2015 Standards: Specific criteria and guidelines that RTOs must meet to maintain their registration.
  • Data Provision Requirements: Obligations for submitting accurate and timely data about operations, training, and students.

Staying Updated:

  • Regular Audits: Understand the RTO audit process to ensure continuous compliance.
  • Consultation: Consult RTO registration consultants who can provide expert advice and guidance.
  • Training: Ensure staff are regularly trained on compliance updates and changes.

Potential Challenges:

  • Third-Party Arrangements: Ensuring any third-party providers also adhere to compliance standards.
  • Renewal of Registration: Regularly updating and renewing registration to avoid lapses.
  • Scope of Delivery: Ensuring the courses delivered are within the approved scope of registration.

Key Compliance Documents:

Document Description
Certificate of Registration Proof of an RTO’s official registration status.
Scope of Registration Details the specific courses an RTO is approved to offer.
Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool Evaluate an RTO’s financial health and sustainability.

Financial Planning and Viability

Ensuring the financial health of your RTO is paramount for its long-term success. Here is a guide to effective financial planning and understanding viability:

Key Financial Components:

  • Startup Costs: Initial expenses to get your RTO up and running, including registration fees, materials, and infrastructure.
  • Operational Costs: Recurring expenses like salaries, rent, utilities, and marketing.
  • Revenue Streams: Income from student fees, government funding, or third-party contracts.

Financial Viability Tools:

  • Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool: A comprehensive tool provided by ASQA to evaluate an RTO’s financial health.
  • Budgeting Software: Digital tools to help track expenses, forecast revenue, and manage cash flow.

Planning for the Future:

  • Business Case Requirements: Building a robust business case to justify investments or expansions.
  • Contingency Funds: Setting aside funds for unforeseen expenses or downturns.
  • Growth Projections: Estimating future revenue based on market trends, course demand, and expansion plans.

Understanding Charges:

  • Application Fees: Costs associated with the initial RTO registration application.
  • Annual Registration Fee: A recurring fee to maintain RTO status with ASQA.
  • Assessment Fees: Charges related to the audit and assessment process.

RTO Financial Overview:

Financial Component Estimated Cost/Revenue
Startup Costs $20,000 – $50,000 (varies based on scale)
Operational Costs (Monthly) $5,000 – $15,000 (depending on size and location)
Average Course Fee (Per Student) $500 – $5,000 (based on course type and duration)

Marketing and Growth

Promoting your RTO is crucial for attracting students and ensuring steady growth. Here is a guide to strategic marketing and expansion:

Understanding Your Audience:

  • Demographics: Age, location, educational background, and other factors define your target students.
  • Needs and Preferences: What potential students seek regarding courses, training methods, and outcomes.

Marketing Channels:

  • Digital Marketing: Utilising platforms like social media, email campaigns, and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Traditional Marketing: Brochures, flyers, radio spots, and local newspaper advertisements.
  • Partnerships: Collaborating with local businesses, schools, or community groups to promote your RTO.

Key Marketing Strategies:

  • Content Marketing: Sharing valuable content like blog posts, videos, and infographics related to vocational training.
  • Paid Advertising: Using platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads to target specific audiences.
  • Word of Mouth: Encouraging satisfied students to refer friends or write testimonials.

Growth Considerations:

  • Course Expansion: Introducing new courses based on market demand and industry trends.
  • Geographical Expansion: Opening new branches or offering courses in different regions.
  • Online Learning: Leveraging a Learning Management System to offer courses online, catering to a wider audience.

RTO Marketing Budget Breakdown:

Marketing Component Estimated Monthly Budget
Digital Marketing $1,000 – $5,000 (depending on scale and platforms used)
Traditional Marketing $500 – $2,500 (varies by medium and reach)
Partnerships & Collaborations $500 – $3,000 (based on the nature and scale of partnerships)

Final Steps and Considerations

As you approach the final stages of establishing your RTO, it is essential to ensure all boxes are ticked. Here is a checklist of final steps and critical considerations:

Documentation and Submission:

  • Self-Assessment: A thorough review of your RTO’s compliance with the RTO 2015 Standards.
  • Financial Viability Risk Assessment: Use the provided tool to confirm your RTO’s financial health.
  • Scope of Registration: Finalising the list of courses and qualifications your RTO will offer.

Awaiting ASQA’s Decision:

  • Review Period: ASQA typically takes up to 2 years to review and decide on new RTO registrations.
  • Feedback and Rectifications: Addressing any areas of improvement or non-compliance highlighted by ASQA.

Post-Registration Responsibilities:

  • Continuous Compliance: Regularly reviewing and updating processes to comply with national quality standards.
  • Annual Registration Fee: Ensuring timely payment to maintain your RTO’s registration status.
  • Engaging with Students: Prioritising the needs of learners, offering support, and ensuring quality training delivery.

Potential Challenges:

  • Scope of Delivery: Regularly reviewing and updating the courses offered to ensure they align with industry demands.
  • Quality of Delivery: Maintaining high standards in training and assessment, irrespective of growth or expansion.
  • Third-Party Arrangements: Monitoring and managing any third-party providers to ensure they adhere to compliance standards.

Key Dates and Deadlines:

Milestone Typical Timeline
ASQA Decision Up to 2 years after application submission
Annual Registration Renewal Every year from the date of initial registration
Compliance Reviews Periodic, based on ASQA’s schedule and any industry changes

Conclusion and Next Steps

Establishing a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in Australia is a significant undertaking, but it is an achievable goal with the right guidance and resources. As you have learned, the journey involves understanding regulations, ensuring financial viability, marketing effectively, and consistently delivering quality training.

Key Takeaways:

  • Regulatory Adherence: Staying compliant with the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the VET Quality Framework is paramount.
  • Financial Planning: Utilising tools like the Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool to ensure long-term sustainability.
  • Quality Assurance: Prioritising the needs of learners and ensuring top-tier training and assessment.
  • Growth and Marketing: Adopting effective strategies to promote your RTO and expand its reach.

Next Steps:

  • Documentation Review: Regularly update and review all essential documents, ensuring they align with the latest regulations.
  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated with industry trends, regulatory changes, and best practices in vocational education.
  • Engage with VET Resources: For further guidance, support, and resources, consider partnering with VET Resources, a trusted name in the vocational education sector.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)?

  • The Australian government recognises a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for vocational education and training.

Q2. How do I start an RTO?

  • Starting an RTO involves understanding the regulatory requirements, completing the initial registration form, ensuring financial viability, and setting up a structured training program.

Q3. What is the difference between a ‘registered training organisation’ and ‘RTO’?

  • There is no difference; ‘RTO’ is simply an abbreviation for ‘Registered Training Organisation’.

Q4. I have heard about the Global Competitiveness Report. How does it relate to RTOs?

  • The Global Competitiveness Report, released by the World Economic Forum, ranks countries based on various factors, including education. RTOs contribute to Australia’s ranking by providing quality vocational training.

Q5. What is the ‘art of training’?

  • The ‘art of training’ refers to the skill and expertise required to deliver effective educational programs, ensuring the support of learners, and achieving desired outcomes.

Q6. Can I offer a short course program as an RTO?

  • Yes, RTOs can offer a variety of courses, including short course programs, if they align with the standards set by regulatory bodies.

Q7. How has the structure of businesses evolved over the past few months in the training sector?

  • Over the past few months, many businesses, including RTOs, have adapted to online training methods due to global events, emphasising the importance of a structured training program.

Q8. What is a ‘white card course’?

  • A ‘white card course’ is a training program for individuals wishing to work in the Australian construction industry. It educates them about safety protocols and is a requirement for many construction jobs.

Q9. How long does it take to process the initial registration form for an RTO?

  • Typically, after submitting the initial registration form, preliminary review can take up to ten working days. However, the complete approval process might extend to several months.

Q10. Are there any new regulations for RTOs since the 1st of July 2018?

  • Yes, regulations and standards for RTOs are periodically updated. To ensure compliance, it is essential to check with the Australian Skills Quality Authority for any changes post the 1st of July 2018.

The information presented on the VET Resources blog is for general guidance only. While we strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. VET Resources is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Always consult a professional for advice tailored to your circumstances.

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