Mechanical Production and Plant Engineers
Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.
||Openings 5 years to 2016-17: 10 000 < 25 000
||Median weekly earnings: > $1401 to (Source: DEEWR Australian Jobs 2012: www.deewr.gov.au/australian-jobs-publication)
||Mechanical productions and plant engineers design, build and maintain machinery using specialised design software, drawing equipment and hand tools.
There are currently around 1,940 mechanical, production and plant engineers employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the manufacturing industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile less than a third of those employed aged 45 years or older.
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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Mechanical Production and Plant Engineers
If you like investigating how things work by pulling them apart and putting them back together again, then you might be interested in finding out a bit more about this occupation. The work of mechanical production and plant engineering involves designing, testing, building and maintaining equipment and machinery.
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Of those currently employed 60% have Bachelor Degrees; 11% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas; 10% have Postgraduate Degrees; 5% have Certificate III or certificate IV; and 7% have no post-school qualifications. In order for you to have the best possible chance of finding employment it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications.
TAFE SA offers a Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology and Diploma of Engineering - Advanced Trade.
Relevant TAFE SA Apprenticeship/Traineeship courses:
Certificate IV in Engineering
The University of South Australia offers a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Technology (Mechanical and Manufacturing) degrees.
The University of Adelaide offers a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree.
Employment prospects are influenced by the level of activity in the various industries that employ these tradespeople and the number and size of engineering projects planned and under construction. There has been a downturn in the demand for mechanical engineering technicians and associates in the past few years but demand has been improved due to projects such as the North West Shelf Gas Project.
Entry to this field can be gained through extensive work experience, although it usually requires the completion of a relevant course in mechanical engineering.
The Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering is available through various TAFE campuses. You may be able to move into this area of work by undertaking an Engineering Technician traineeship. Many people move into this area from the trades. Other useful experience can be gained through working in an engineering workshop, working with machines, or any other work in the engineering industry. 'People often start off as juniors, working in drafting. As they gain more experience, they can undertake vocational training and then progressively move into mechanical engineering technician and associate positions. Often employers are willing to sponsor the vocational training,' says an industry professional. With further study, there is the potential to find work as a professional engineer and in some companies, mechanical engineering technicians and associates can train to become production engineers.
Manufacturing, Property and Business Services
Jamie Getgood - Mechanical Engineering
'My TAFE studies helped me a lot because I was getting skills I could use at work. I did extra study at TAFE because I was enjoying my trade but I also wanted to make myself as employable as possible.'
Jamie is one of those people who have a pretty good idea of what they want to do after school. In his case, he was interested in engineering and CAD and decided the best option for him was to get an apprenticeship. After being offered two apprenticeships Jamie chose to join Email Cooking Products as they offered broad experience across a range of plants in South Australia, as well as the promise of design experience which was exactly what Jamie was seeking.
Jamie described his off-job study at TAFE as very interesting: 'It helped me a lot because I was getting skills I could use at work.' While completing his apprenticeship Jamie also enrolled in a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, because, as he said, 'I was enjoying my trade but I also wanted to make myself as employable as possible.'
While he was at TAFE Jamie was encouraged to enter the State Workskills competitions by his lecturers whose faith in him was rewarded when Jamie came first in the fluid power category. He was then placed third in the national competitions. As a result, Email entered Jamie in the SA Training Awards for Apprentice of the Year in 1999, where he came third. His company, Email was so impressed with Jamie they decided to keep him on after he finished his apprenticeship, a first for the company.
The following year he re-entered the Workskill competitions and this time won both the state and the national awards in fluid power.
After one and a half years as a tradesman Jamie was made training coordinator for Email Training Services, however when Smorgon Steel purchased Email Training Services Jamie found himself out of a job. Jamie’s reputation was such that he was soon offered the position of human resources officer with Electrolux Home Products, dealing with everything from pay disputes to recruitment and other management issues. It’s a long way from his apprenticeship beginnings but Jamie is adamant that his TAFE experience helped get him where he is now: 'TAFE was a stepping stone for me; it really helped me along the way. The lecturers helped me in every way they could and the pushed me in he right direction for me. They’ve always supported everything I’ve done, even after I finished my studies.'
Nature of the Job
'Mechanical engineering technicians provide the step between design and manufacture,' says a lecturer in Engineering from TAFE. Mechanical engineering technicians and associates usually work under the direction of mechanical engineers and carry out tasks associated with the design of new machines, the assembly and installation of mechanical equipment, and the maintenance and repair of engineering machinery. They also assist in developing quality control tests for products and parts and perform workshop and field tests. This job may also involve liaising with a variety of people including mechanical engineers, mechanical services tradespeople, contractors, architects, consultants and suppliers. The types of machines that technicians and associates design and maintain include air conditioning systems, heating and ventilation units and power plants. They also develop quality control systems in manufacturing by studying and improving the mechanical processes and machinery on production lines. Mechanical engineering associates may also be required to lead teams of mechanical engineering technicians.
Typical Physical Working Environment
You'll need a sound knowledge of maths and physics, strong problem solving skills and good hand-eye co-ordination. You may be required to work independently or in a team, so it also helps if you enjoy dealing with a variety of people. Mechanical engineering technicians and associates use computers, drawing equipment, hand tools and machines, and may work in factories, offices or on building sites. Work may be indoors or outdoors, and can be noisy and dirty at times. When working with dangerous machinery, protective clothing must be worn. Typically, mechanical engineering technicians and associates work 40 hours a week, although country work may involve extra hours. Travel, between local sites may be required, and with contract work, there may be opportunities for travel overseas.
Typical Occupational Example
For mechanical engineering technicians, there is a range of specialities including: boiler testing technicians; hydraulic control technicians; mechanical detail drafters; mechanical engineering drafters; pipe testing technicians; and tool design detail drafters. Mechanical engineering associates may specialise in one of the areas of: mechanical handling (cranes, lifts, conveyors); jig and tool (associated with most manufacturing companies); building services (such as air conditioning, pipe and duct layouts); and consumer products (general domestic appliances).
Job opportunities exist in the architectural and technical and consulting engineering services, as well as the manufacturing, electricity, water and gas industries. Another major area of employment is in engineering drafting.
For further information, contact:
Department of Primary Industries and Resources, Office of Minerals and Energy Resources
GPO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: (08) 8226 0222
Fax: (08) 8226 0476
Engineers Australia (SA Division)
11 Bagot St North Adelaide SA 5006
Ph: (08) 8267 1783
Fax: (08) 8239 0932
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy Inc
4 Greenhill Rd Wayville SA 5034
Ph: (08) 8373 9600
Fax: (08) 8373 9699
Salaries begin at around $50,000 per year while more experienced technicians and associates can earn around $65,000 plus a year.
For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online