How to become an Engineer in Australia
‘Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.’ A.Einstein
Engineering is an occupation that has an exceptionally wide range, covering numerous fields and skills. Engineers work in many different industries to improve the lives of people, increase human capability and create a better, safer and more efficient world. They are inventors, builders, scientists and problem-solvers who address society’s problems and needs on many levels.
Engineers take scientific theories and discoveries and work out ways of applying them practically to solve real-world problems. Using maths, science and technological expertise, Engineers design, develop, evaluate and test new products, technologies and systems. They research and recommend materials, plan and supervise construction, implement failure analyses, install, maintain and inspect anything from machines and buildings to software and electrical systems.
Although Engineers span many different disciplines, the main, primary branches are chemical, civil, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. They work on projects of almost every scale, from atomic-level data storage devices and cellular drug delivery systems to building skyscrapers and neutralising pollutants in soil and the atmosphere to designing aircraft and even space shuttles and probes for deep-space exploration. Engineers have given us roads and trains, clean drinking water, safer food production and storage methods, software that allows us to track and predict weather patterns and devices that enable us to communicate with almost anyone, anywhere on the planet.
Are you a master of logic and problem-solving? Do you love the idea of improving efficiency and creating new and better ways to solve society’s problems? Here are some of the steps you will need to take to become an Engineer.
Step 1: Decide what type of Engineer you want to be
Although many of the skills of an Engineer are transferable between disciplines, it is recommended that you choose a specialisation early, in order to better focus your studies and training. If you wish to help with the design and construction of buildings, transport systems and treatment plants, for example, then you would study civil engineering, whereas, if you are more interested in coming up with more efficient machines, self-driving cars and safer aircraft you might prefer to study mechanical engineering.
Electrical Engineers work on complex electronic and telecommunication systems, as well as improving energy efficiency in a number of different products and devices, and Environmental Engineers help to improve the condition of the world we live in, reducing pollution and improving air and water quality. Whether you wish to create new and exciting compounds as a Chemical Engineer, design smarter programs and devices as a Software Engineer, or design robots and probes to be sent into space as an Aerospace Engineer, deciding what sort of Engineer you would like to be will help you get there faster.
Step 2: Complete your studies
To forge a successful career as an Engineer requires substantial study and training. It is recommended that you first undertake an Associate Degree or Advanced Diploma in Engineering, as these will give you a good foundation in the basics of what it is to be an Engineer. The other advantage to these courses is that they will expose you to many of the different types of engineering, such as civil, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering, thus enabling you to get a better idea of what area interests you. Once you have completed an introductory course you can then undertake a bachelor’s degree with a focus on the area of engineering that you wish to specialise in.
Step 3: Volunteer and work your way up
Finding work as an Engineer straight out of university can be difficult, so you may want to volunteer to gain some work experience to put on your resume. Research companies that you really want to work for and introduce yourself, offer to help out or even ask if they have any internships available. Once you can show people what you can do and prove your worth, there is every chance that your volunteer work could lead to employment and, if not, it will at least give you some more experience on your resume. This isn’t to say that you definitely won’t find work so make sure you keep your eye out for part-time assistant and entry-level positions too. The more experience you can get, the more skilled you will become and the better your resume will look.
Step 4: Register with the appropriate organisation
Now that you have completed your education and gained some experience, you may want to consider applying for additional certification as an Engineer. In Australia, there are a number of qualifications available, depending on your state and specialisation, such as Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) or Registered Professional Engineer (RPEng) from Engineers Australia. Although not specifically necessary for a career in engineering, these certifications demonstrate your training and your ability and commitment to upholding a certain level of professional development and will help make your resume stand out to any prospective employer. There are a number of certifications and registrations available so make sure you do your research and apply to the organisation that most suits your desired career path.
What does an Engineer do?
Engineers work in a wide variety of industries, designing, developing, testing and evaluating new technologies, materials and systems. They take proven scientific discoveries and figure out ways to apply them to practical, real-world problems. Engineers apply their scientific, mathematical and technological expertise to almost every aspect of modern life; from building roads and skyscrapers, improving global communication systems and designing safer cars and aircraft to developing new chemicals and materials, creating more efficient data storage and helping to minimise pollution in our environment. They are the world’s foremost problem-solvers, working at almost every level to enhance our world, extend humanity’s reach and improve the global standard of living.
- Identifying and analysing problems and inefficiencies in machines, systems, programs etc.
- Researching and evaluating useable materials and technologies.
- Designing practical solutions to problems using CAD software.
- Producing specifications and documentation for manufacturers.
- Creating computer generated models and simulations to test designs.
- Liaising with designers and manufacturers.
- Installing and maintaining machines, components and systems.
- Testing and assessing prototypes.
Skills for Success
Engineers are the masters of problem-solving and practical thinking. They use creativity, logic and technological expertise to identify and overcome inefficiencies, problems and challenges. An Engineer must be methodical, organised and intuitive, able to think outside the square and approach challenges from multiple angles. They must have a solid grasp of mathematics and the scientific method, as well as a strong understanding of materials and their applications. Engineers often work in teams and must be able to function cooperatively with other engineers, designers, manufacturers and management, so they also need great verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Engineers need to be comfortable working with computers to create models and simulations as well as having practical, hands-on skills for building prototypes and installing components.
- Creative and intuitive.
- Excellent problem-solving abilities.
- Organised and methodical.
- Solid mathematical and scientific knowledge.
- Technical prowess.
- Practical and logical.
- Analytical and determined.
- Great communication skills.
How much does an Engineer earn in Australia? In Australia, the average Engineer earns around $75,125 per year. This varies greatly depending on a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 04/18