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.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10,001 to 25,000
Median weekly earnings: $1301 to $17000
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
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.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Mechanical Production and Plant Engineers

Accredited (Award)

  • 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.

  • 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 courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Engineering-Advanced Trade and the Diploma of Engineering - Technical.

  • 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.

  • '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.

  • 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.

  • 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