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Study engineering and technology courses in Australia

Field of Study: Engineering and Technology Course Information

Engineers help to make things that we use on a daily basis — from the cars we drive and the medical technology we depend on, to our cities’ buildings and our regions’ water supplies. Inspired? You should be. This profession boasts many important achievements, and there would appear to be many more ahead.

In particular, engineering and technology graduates of the next few years are tipped to be instrumental in meeting challenges related to environmental change and the technology (for example, nuclear technology) that may be employed to generate alternative energy sources. Engineers Australia Magazine’s ‘Top 100’ list of most influential engineers shows just how capable engineers are as leaders and how much impact they can and will have on meeting the challenges of the future.

For more information about careers in engineering, check out the Engineers Australia, Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers and Consult Australia websites.

If you are interested in the field you could also consider architecture, built environment, computing and information technology, environmental studies, some sciences and surveying. If you’re an engineer considering a move up the corporate ladder, you should also look into business and management courses.

Browse engineering and technology courses by state

VET study in engineering and technology

Courses, majors and specialisations in engineering and technology

A great range of VET courses are available in the engineering and technology field. Courses are available at all qualification levels (certificates I–IV, diploma and advanced diploma) in a broad range of the more traditional disciplines (such as civil and mechanical), as well as some newer specialisations (such as electronics and communications).

VET courses in this field are very accessible. Specific entry requirements depend on the qualification, as well as the particular course and institution. Generally speaking, however, certificate courses will require Year 12, and may assume knowledge in maths and science. Entry to diploma and advanced diploma courses may require completion of a prior certificate course in the same field.

There are many opportunities in this field to articulate to higher-level VET courses and university study. In some cases, completion of diploma or advanced diploma courses can lead to eligibility for entry to bachelor degrees at university. It pays to do your research and check with individual providers what the articulation options are for the particular courses that interest you.

Where to study engineering and technology courses

Courses in this field are widely available throughout the country at campuses in both metropolitan and regional areas.You will find courses offered both at TAFE institutes and private VET providers.

Many of the courses in this field involve knowledge and expertise with complex systems and technology, so it's a good idea to look into each institution's equipment, facilities and technology, as well as opportunities for practical work experience.

Career opportunities in engineering and technology field

This is a broad and ever-expanding field with great employment opportunities in the face of worsening skills shortages. Many VET courses in this field prepare students for a range of auxiliary and paraprofessional careers, including as engineering associates or engineering technologists in various specialisations. Some courses qualify graduates for membership of Engineers Australia.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Undergraduate study in engineering and technology

Courses, majors and specialisations in engineering and technology

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Aerospace engineering

  • Audio engineering

  • Chemical engineering

  • Civil engineering

  • Electrical engineering

  • Environmental engineering

  • Marine engineering

  • Mechanical engineering

  • Naval architecture

  • Product design

As a prospective member of this profession, your first challenge will be to think carefully about what kind of engineer you wish to be. Many courses automatically set you on a path to one specialisation, although some provide a general first year before you specialise. While some engineering specialisations focus on a certain type of technology (automotive, aerospace, biomedical, telecommunications or marine), others are concerned with adapting certain base elements or resources for a myriad of purposes (electrical, chemical, materials and mechanical), while another group concentrates on harvesting, developing and sustaining natural resources (environmental, agricultural and mining). The newer engineering fields (aeronautics, informatics and mechatronics, for example) have been more popular than the older sub-disciplines in recent years, but this trend may reverse, with industry and faculty leaders decrying shortages of qualified professionals in the more traditional engineering specialisations (civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical).

If you’re unsure of where your specific interests lie, you should research carefully and consider the following points. Most engineering students become engineers and, what’s more, the specialisation they study is the specialisation they practise. It’s not a once-and-for-all decision though; many engineers move into other fields (such as management, project management and consultancy) a few years into their careers. Engineers of all persuasions can also work across different sectors and industries, offering some options for a change of scenery. Nevertheless, this is a field that typically narrows down options.

Along with technical skills, attributes such as good oral and written communication skills, being imaginative, taking initiative and simply knowing how to work with others are often needed for employment but are sometimes overlooked in engineering. You might like to consider doing a double degree — you can combine engineering with arts, business, computer science, environmental science, commerce and law, among others. A double degree allows you to add another dimension to your technical skill-base and keeps your options open. Don’t forget, there is often a difference in the cut-off scores between single and combined degrees.

Overall, engineering is fairly tough to get into compared with other fields. Subjects such as mathematics and sciences (especially physics) are almost always required. Some engineering courses have special deals, scholarships and programs aimed at attracting female applicants, who currently make up a mere ten per cent of the workforce.

In the midst of an engineering shortage, Engineers Australia has confirmed that, while the number of new engineering graduates is increasing slightly, it is growing much slower than the demand.

It has been suggested that an increased exposure to science and mathematics subjects in secondary school will encourage students to opt for engineering courses at tertiary level. A mandatory digital technologies subject, to be taught up to Year 8 level as part of the Australian Curriculum, has been welcomed by Engineers Australia. The subject will aim to provide students with the skills to be ‘efficient operators of technology and critical users of information’.

The industry has also been looking at solutions to the gender bias inherent in engineering — women currently make up less than 10 per cent of the national engineering workforce. The Women in Engineering National Committee, run by Engineers Australia, works to attract, support and retain women in the field. One initiative is the committee’s mentoring program, which provides support for female engineers to achieve their career goals. Another, the Women in Engineering Summit, encourages girls to consider engineering through a camp-style event, providing opportunities to meet with industry leaders, academics and other students who have similar interests. Scholarships and grants are also available. See the Engineers Australia website for details about the steps being taken to foster a more welcoming and desirable working environment for women in engineering.

Where to study engineering and technology courses

Engineering and technology courses are widely available at universities throughout the country. Pay careful attention when browsing course guides as specialisations may vary between institutions and sometimes, even campuses. Ensure that the courses you are considering are accredited by Engineers Australia.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in engineering and technology field

The 2014 national Course Experience Questionnaire survey found that graduates were not overly satisfied with the quality of teaching. It’s important to remember that there are big differences between courses and campuses, so make good use of the tables on these pages and do your research thoroughly. The shortage of engineers has resulted in good demand for graduates, although 36 per cent of graduates were still seeking work four months after graduation. Salaries are strong, sitting at $62,102. Fields that are unlikely to meet predicted needs in coming years include mining, mineral exploration, civil, structural and infrastructure engineering.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in engineering and technology

Courses, majors and specialisations in engineering and technology

Engineering is a large and well-established field. There are plenty of options at postgraduate level, most of them geared towards practising professionals who want to upgrade or add to their skill set.

Some programs cover the traditional specialisations that many engineers study in their first degree, including chemical, civil, mechanical, software, automotive and electronic engineering. There are also a large number of specialisations available that relate to emerging technologies, such as biomedical, telecommunications and microelectronics engineering. For those who have worked in these fields for a few years, a postgraduate qualification could be a good way to advance their careers and stay up-to-date.

There are also various options for those who want to explore something different that relates to their current industry or a specific field that they want to enter. There are programs that look at engineering in specific fields of activity and industries, such as local government, aviation and manufacturing, among others. Another option is to look at engineering management if you want to move away from the pure technical focus and gain some management experience. There are plenty of programs that are not necessarily for engineers, but also for people in other fields of technology. These include transport management, sustainable energy and infrastructure and power systems.

Engineers are big consumers of further education and training, and the profession has an unusually strong role in its provision. The majority of those enrolled in this field are doing coursework programs rather than research, typically for a professional upgrade of existing skills, but also sometimes to learn a new specialisation.

Where to study engineering and technology courses

Because this is such a huge field of study, it won't be difficult to find a relevant course. You will find that courses are available both at universities and at some private providers.

For research postgraduates, it is not unusual to find engineering research and teaching centres that combine the efforts of universities and organisations from the private sector. Also note the availability of Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarships, which support research students wanting to work in conjunction with industry. If you are contemplating a research degree, you should look further than an institution’s overall performance and consider the activities of academics in your area of interest. Remember that you are more likely to find a critical mass of research students and have better access to resources and scholarships at an institution with a well-established research program. As always, look out for the specifics, including the strengths and weaknesses of possible supervisors.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in engineering and technology field

Recent engineering graduates were dissatisfied with the quality of teaching but were impressed with the skills they gained, according to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey. The generally accepted view, strongly pushed by Engineers Australia, is that the economies of the future will demand more and more engineers. While demand for graduates of engineering bachelor degrees is strong, the call for engineering postgraduates is patchy — 28 per cent of graduates were still seeking work four months after completing their course. On the other hand, those who did find work earned excellent salaries, at an average of $103,785.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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