what is an engineer?

As an engineer, you develop practical solutions to technical problems using your knowledge of scientific principles. Your work leads to solutions useful in commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs.

Engineers develop new products using tested designs and processes. When creating a product, you specify the requirements and put together the components. You also test the functionality to ensure the effectiveness and reliability of products. Design, analysis and testing processes produce various items, from computers to chemicals and automotive products.

As an engineer, your work involves product design and the production and maintenance of various products. For instance, you may be in charge of supervising factory workers to ensure equipment is handled appropriately. You also figure out the cause of machine failures and complete the necessary repairs. You are involved in maintenance to ensure the equipment retains high-quality production standards.

As an engineer, you work in various industries depending on your field of study. Some engineers work in construction or industrial settings, while others work in the energy sector or pharmaceuticals.

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average engineer salary

The average remuneration of an engineer in Australia is $110,000 per year. However, your remuneration package fluctuates based on your experience, qualifications and area of specialisation. When starting your career as an engineer, your remuneration package begins at $100,000 per year. As you improve your experience, your earnings increase gradually, and you can take home over $120,000 annually.

what factors affect your salary as an engineer?

As an engineer, your earnings fluctuate based on your area of specialisation and experience. Some specialisations pay higher salaries due to the complexity of the role. For instance, a mechanical or electrical engineer earns more than a maintenance engineer.

The company you work for and the projects you undertake also influence your remuneration. When you work in a large company, you will probably handle big projects with huge budgets. Due to the expertise required for complex projects, you earn a higher salary than engineers working on smaller projects. Small companies may lack the resources to pay higher salaries or offer additional benefits.

Want to know what you will earn as an engineer? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of engineers

As an engineer, you can specialise in a particular field of study. In a mechanical engineer role, you assist in designing and developing the machines or equipment used in industrial processes. You can work in the production of industrial computer systems, trains and various equipment.

As a chemical engineer, you solve problems by converting chemical substances into valuable products. For instance, you research and develop medical products from chemical components in various ingredients. You also formulate recipes and procedures for creating multiple products. Your job as a civil engineer includes building and constructing large structures, such as bridges, tunnels and railway lines. You also work in buildings to ensure solid and sound structures.

As an electrical engineer, you work with electricity and electronic machines. You install electrical lines in commercial and residential areas or produce electronic products. As an oil and gas engineer, you construct pipelines for transporting oil and gas without harming the environment.

two men working together
two men working together

working as an engineer

Engineering is an inspiring career that allows you to explore your creativity and solve problems in society. Let's take a look at the daily tasks and work environment of an engineer.


education and skills

Engineering is a technical field, and you require extensive educational qualifications. The pathway to becoming an engineer takes between six and seven years, from a bachelor's degree to an internship. First, decide on the type of engineer you want to become. Even though engineering knowledge is transferable between disciplines, choosing your specialisation improves your career prospects.

Pursue an engineering degree by majoring in electrical, civil or mining engineering. University degrees usually have an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). After completing full-time study, join an internship to gain on-the-job experience in the role. When you've practised four years as an engineer, apply for a Professional Engineer’s licence through the Registered Professional Engineer program, provided by the Association of Professional Engineers Australia. You can also register with the National Engineering Register and join Engineers Australia. After improving your educational qualifications, you'll achieve Chartered Professional Engineer (CPE) status.

engineer skills and competencies

Aside from training, you need soft skills to help you succeed as an engineer. Some of the most important skills include:

  • critical thinking skills: as an engineer, your central role is to solve problems. Hence, you should be inquisitive and think critically to come up with ideas. When performance doesn't meet standards, you determine the cause and find a solution.
  • attention to detail: when you are an engineer, a small error can cause significant problems. For instance, if you miss some components, the product may not work or meet the expectations. Your attentiveness to details will come in handy.
  • science and mathematics aptitude: engineers use advanced mathematics to analyse, design and find solutions. Aptitude for maths, science and technology helps you solve problems and succeed in your work.
  • project management skills: as an engineer, you juggle multiple project elements, from design to testing and production. Management skills help you achieve your goals at the expected budget.

FAQs about working as an engineer

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an engineer.

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