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The engineering and technology field is one of the biggest in Australia. It is also one of the most popular fields among international students due to the strength of Australia’s mining and technology sectors.

Engineering courses cover the basic disciplines (such as civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering), as well as specialised fields such as mining, telecommunications and railway engineering. Technology disciplines range from aviation to food technology and machine maintenance. The large number of courses and specialisations available in Australia means that there is something to suit everyone.

If you are interested in studying engineering and technology, you might also be interested in studying Computing and information technology or the Sciences. If you are considering the management side of the discipline, you could consider courses in Business and management.

The courses and employment opportunities available will depend on the level of qualification you complete. There are three qualification levels in engineering and technology:

VET study in Engineering and Technology

Courses and specialisation

Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in engineering and technology are generally very practical and focused on providing students with the skills that the industries require. Courses are available at all qualification levels within the VET sector, including certificates I to IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas. Generally, the lower-level certificates I, II and III provide basic skills for engineering trades, while certificate IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas prepare students with the skills required to enter specific engineering careers in roles supporting professional engineers.

There are many specialisations in the engineering and technology field. Students can choose from general VET qualifications in engineering that provide the skills required for a number of engineering roles, or specialised qualifications in engineering disciplines such as civil, electrical, electronics, mechanical, telecommunications and renewable energy. There are also a large number of technology specialisations, which are available in areas ranging from automotive technology, food processing, clothing production and furniture making to aviation, electronics and transport and logistics.

Generally, VET qualifications are more practical than degrees in the higher education sector. If you want to enter a role as a professional engineer, you will need to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in engineering from the higher education sector. VET qualifications can provide a good pathway into undergraduate engineering degrees.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses may require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school, a lower-level VET qualification or relevant work experience. For more information about VET courses and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.

Where to study

VET courses in the engineering and technology fields can be studied at TAFE institutes, private colleges and universities with TAFE departments. Due to the wide range of courses offered, they can be studied around Australia and in both metropolitan and regional areas.

The course you choose within this field will depend on the qualification level and type of work that interests you. You should think about the qualification that is needed to work in your field and in the specific role you would like to perform. If you would like to work as a professional engineer, see Undergraduate study in engineering and technology and Postgraduate study in engineering and technology for information about higher education study.

Practical experience is very important in the engineering and technology fields, so we recommend checking that your institution has appropriate facilities and equipment, has strong connections with industry and provides work experience opportunities. You should also check whether your course is accredited by the relevant industry association, which may provide opportunities for professional membership.

Undergraduate study in Engineering and Technology

Courses and specialisation

Most students who complete an undergraduate degree in the engineering and technology field complete a bachelor of engineering in order to qualify as a professional engineer. These four-year degrees are regulated by Engineers Australia and allow students to specialise in a specific engineering discipline, such as aerospace, civil, chemical, computer systems, electrical, electronics, environmental, mechanical, mechatronic or mining engineering. There are also three-year bachelor degrees available in engineering technology and engineering science, which prepare students for more practical careers as engineering technologists (who support professional engineers). In addition, two-year associate degrees in engineering are also available to prepare students for careers as associate engineers.

For those students who do not want to enter into a career as a professional engineer, there are also a number of undergraduate courses and specialisations available in related technology fields such as aviation, metallurgy, maritime operations and motorsports.

Double degrees are very popular, with many students choosing programs that combine engineering and technology with complementary fields such as architecture, commerce, computer science, law and science. Another interesting option is to complete a cooperative (co-op) degree, which combines study with paid practical experience. Co-op degrees can be very competitive to enter, admitting only a small number of students.

Graduates of undergraduate degrees in engineering may be eligible to complete Engineers Australia’s Professional Year Program (PYP). See Engineering and technology jobs in Australia for more information.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses may require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school. For more information about undergraduate courses and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Undergraduate.

Where to study

Undergraduate engineering and technology courses are offered at most universities in Australia, as well as at selected private colleges and TAFE institutes. Note that some specialisations may only be available at a limited number of institutions or better executed in certain parts of the country (Western Australia and Queensland for mining and petroleum engineering, for example).

The course you choose will usually depend on the specialisation that most interests you — whether this is a specific stream of engineering or a technology degree leading to work in a related industry. Not all specialisations are available at all institutions, so check course guides to make sure courses you are considering cover the areas of engineering and technology that interest you most. Your choice will also depend on your career goals, such as if you want to become a professional engineer (and if so, which type of engineer). Within each specialisation, engineering degrees accredited by Engineers Australia do not differ greatly in terms of course content, offering a core curriculum that is determined by the requirements of the industry.

Because this is a very technical field, it is important to research each potential institution to make sure that it has the equipment and facilities you need for your specific degree (such as laboratories, workshops and engineering software). Work experience opportunities are also important in this field, so check course outlines and contact institutions to see whether industry placements are integrated into the course (through a co-op course structure that combines work with study, for example).

Postgraduate study in Engineering and Technology

Courses and specialisation

Engineering and technology is a highly specialised field at postgraduate level. Postgraduate students fall into three groups. The first group is made up of students who studied engineering at undergraduate level and have chosen to return to study, either to improve their job prospects or try out a new (or more advanced) specialisation. The second group includes those who studied a field other than engineering at undergraduate level and who would like to enter the profession (this also includes professionals from other industries wishing to change their career). The final group of students includes qualified engineers who want to upgrade their skills, learn a new discipline or qualify for management positions.

The list of postgraduate coursework degrees is extensive, with options available at graduate certificate, graduate diploma and masters by coursework level. In addition to standard programs such as the master of engineering (with options in the general disciplines such as civil, electrical and mechanical engineering), postgraduate technology degrees are available in areas ranging from aviation and rail operations to biotechnology and sustainable energy.

Research degrees are also popular in engineering and technology, including masters degrees by research, research doctorates and professional doctorates. There are also many specialised management degrees that are designed for professional engineers wanting to qualify for management positions, including the master of engineering management and the master of business administration (MBA) with an engineering specialisation.

Students often complete double degrees that combine engineering with studies in the business and management, computing and information technology or science fields.

Graduates of postgraduate degrees in engineering may be eligible to complete Engineers Australia’s Professional Year Program (PYP). See Engineering and technology jobs in Australia for more information.

Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some courses require previous study or work experience in the field. For more information about postgraduate courses and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Postgraduate.

Where to study

Engineering and technology is a large and well-developed postgraduate field, with postgraduate degrees available at most universities in Australia. There are also some specialised private colleges that offer courses in this field. Note that some specialisations may only be available at a limited number of institutions or better executed in certain parts of the country (Tasmania for marine engineering, for example).

The course you choose will depend on your field of interest, your current qualifications and your intended career path. For example, if you are currently an engineer but want to explore a new specialisation, you could choose a short graduate certificate. On the other hand, a student with a non-engineering undergraduate degree could use a masters degree to enter the profession. Keep in mind that, while some courses are open to students without an engineering background, others are only open to those with a relevant degree or previous work experience. Also note that not all specialisations are offered at all institutions. Read course handbooks carefully to make sure you are eligible for admission and that your specialisation is offered.

Because this is a very technical field, it is important to research each potential institution to make sure that it has the equipment and facilities you need for your specific degree (such as laboratories, workshops and engineering software). Look out for courses that are recognised by the relevant industry associations, such as Engineers Australia.

If you are considering a research degree, we recommend investigating each university’s involvement in the industry and history of research in engineering and technology, as well as the knowledge and expertise of potential supervisors.

Engineering and Technology jobs in Australia

Engineers and associated workers find employment in many different types of workplaces, from government offices to engineering companies and telecommunications firms. There are many different types of engineering fields and therefore many different career options, from traditional fields such as civil, mechanical and electrical engineering to newer fields such as telecommunications, mechatronic, biomedical and environmental engineering. There are also a range of roles in the technology field in areas such as aviation.

VET graduates will generally find work in trade-related roles supporting professional staff (such as engineering associates or engineering tradespeople). Some roles are highly specialised, such as aircraft maintenance engineers (who install, maintain and repair aircraft components) and metal machinists (who make machines and equipment used for production).

To become a professional engineer, you must complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree accredited by Engineers Australia. There are many career options for degree graduates. While most go on to work as engineers in their field, some become involved in different areas of engineering depending on their expertise, such as design or sales. Other engineers go on to work as consults or teachers in the industry. Technology degree graduates are also employed in professional roles — a bachelor of aviation graduate, for example, can become a commercial pilot.

International graduates of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in engineering may be eligible to undertake a Professional Year Program (PYP) through Engineers Australia. This is a year-long program that assists international students to obtain work experience and workplace skills at the conclusion of their Australian degree. Graduates receive 44 weeks of practical training and undertake a 12-week internship with a host company. Graduates who successfully complete a PYP can increase their chances of gaining permanent residency in Australia. For more information about the Professional Year in Engineering, see the Engineering Education Australia website.