Engineers work in a diverse range of industries in Australia, from telecommunications to pharmaceuticals, mining to information technology. Traditionally, engineering has been divided into four broad disciplines: chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical. The profession has changed over time and there are now numerous sub-disciplines and emerging streams of engineering, such as environmental, geomatic, mining and software.

The work

  • Chemical engineers study the transformation process of raw materials into usable end products.
  • Civil engineers are involved in the planning, design and construction of the built environment and the physical infrastructure that supports modern society. This encompasses all forms of construction, including bridges, dams, sewerage systems, large buildings, railways and harbours.
  • Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining the systems used for the generation, transmission and utilisation of electricity.
  • Electronics engineers specialise in the use of electronics, such as those found in computer, communication and telecommunication systems.
  • Environmental engineers assess and manage the effects of human and other activity on the natural environment.
  • Mechanical engineers design, organise and manage the construction, operation and maintenance of mechanical equipment and machinery.
  • Mining engineers specialise in mine development and management, extractive technology, mine reclamation and minerals processing.

Although the numbers employed in mining are relatively small, the sector has experienced exceptionally strong job growth due to the recent mining boom and rapid growth and industrialisation of China and other Asian economies. This has led to a wealth of career opportunities for mining and other engineers.

What you need

  • Work experience in the relevant field is highly attractive to employers
  • Further training courses or double degrees (e.g. Engineering/Law or Engineering/Commerce) are highly regarded and increase career opportunities in later years

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations

  • Chemical engineer: $50,000–$61,000
  • Civil engineer: $50,000–$59,900
  • Electrical engineer: $51,000–$63,500
  • Electronics engineer: $50,000–$60,000
  • Engineering manager: $55,000–$80,800
  • Mechanical engineer: $50,000–$63,300

(Figures taken from from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 55% employed in NSW & Queensland (civil engineering professionals)
  • 38 years median age (industrial, mechanical and production engineers)
  • Positive outlook (12% growth: electrical engineering)


Further Resources

Careers for Engineering Graduates
Engineering Courses in Australia