FAQs for Engineering Migrants to Australia

Engineers – Before asking your question or posting a comment please check this section to ensure your question has not already been answered.


Q 1.

How can I get more detailed information regarding the assessment process, application procedure and a sample of engineering CDR as a guide and reference?

A 1.

You need to read   , which is available online from the booklets section of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.Booklet 6: General Skilled Migration

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship web site has the Australian Skills Recognition Information (ASRI)  page. This page tells you the eligibility requirements for each occupation category.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)   website provides more detailed descriptions of typical tasks for your chosen occupation.

The Migration Skills Assessment Handbook  provides specific details on assessment requirements, competency demonstration reports (CDRs), and the format and length of the career episode reports (CERs). Read this from cover to cover before you start writing.

Go to the Qualifications Assessment  page on the tribus lingua blog for information on CDR writing.

Q 2.

Do you know any websites or other sources where overseas engineers will be able to improve their professional and informal English language?

A 2.

Attend activities run by engineering organisations. A good starting point is the Engineers Australia divisions, colleges and special interest group events. These are advertised on their web site. Most are open to the genral public. There are a also a wide range of specialist engineering organisatios such as the IChemE. You will find references to these organisations on the Engineers Australia  website.

The Australia Broadcasting Commission (the ABC)   website provides a wide range of videos and podcasts you can download. Engineers Australia also has a range of podcasts available from their technical events

Project Australia – Land that Engineering Job in Australia  provides further details and advice on internet searching techniques to find engineering organisations and finding general and technical video and podcasts.

Q 3.

I have done my undergraduate degree in Pakistan in 2005. Previously I completed my Associate Diploma (3years). I have more than 8 years work experience after completing my diploma. How do I choose the category of either professional engineer or engineering associate?

A 3.

If your undergraduate degree is equivalent to a 4 year Australian engineering degree, you should apply as a professional engineer. You will need to do a competency demonstration report (CDR) with 3 career episodes. If Engineers Australia do not accept your qualification or CDR as equivalent to a professional engineer they will advise you of the recognition level as an engineering technologist or engineering associate. The levels are explained in Section A.2 of the Migration Skills Assessment booklet available from the Engineers Australia website.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship web site has the Australian Skills Recognition Information (ASRI)  page. This page tells you the eligibility requirements for each occupation category.
Once you have selected your occupation code you need to go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)  website to obtain a fuller description of typical tasks for your chosen occupation.

Q 4.

Please tell the ideal requirements of preparing a CDR in terms of number of words and/or pages per episode.

A 4.

The Migration Skills Assessment Handbook provides specific details on the format and length of the career episode reports. Read this from cover to cover before you start writing. Download the handbook from the Engineers Australia  website.

As a guide, each CER should be made up of:

Introduction: 50 words
Background: 200 – 500 words
Personal engineering activity: 500 – 1000 words
Summary: 50 – 100 words

Q 5.

How should the continuing professional development be presented? What do they mean by testamur?

A 5.

The continuing professional development (CPD) is only a list of courses, training, professional engineering events and self learning activities you have done since completing your engineering undergraduate course. A three column table would be a simple way to present this information with the date, the activity and the number of hours of CPD you are claiming for each activity.

A testamur is a certificate or official letter which is official evidence of having completed a course or training. Your university degree is an example testamur.

Q 6.

My IELTS scores are L= 6 , R=6 , W=5.5 and speaking 6.5 ( Academic ) with an average of 6, can I apply for qualification assessment of not?

A 6.

An average is not good enough. You did not pass the test. You must have 6 or more in all categories. So you will have to repeat the test within two years of the original test and get 6 or more in the writing segment.

Q 7.

Do I need to submit my IELTS score while applying for skill assessment or can I arrange to report my score after applying for skill assessment. There are two types of IELTS tests (Academic and General ). Which one of these should I take?

A 7.

You must include an original English language test (IELTS) result with your application. You must arrange for this to be forwarded directly to Engineers Australia from the Test Centre.

Unless you are planning to go into teaching, you only need the general test.

Here is an extract from the IELTS handbook.

“The Academic Module assesses whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses should be based on the results of this module.

The General Training Module emphasises basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context. General Training is suitable for candidates who are going to English-speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programmes not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The General Training Module is not offered at all test administrations.”

You can get more information from the IELTS  website.

Q 8.

I am the secondary applicant to my wife’s visa application, I would like to know whether my skills need to be assessed or do I need to take any kind of licence in order to work in Australia?

A 8.

You will not need a licence to practice in Australia. In Queensland and in certain industries, such as the building industry, you will need to be registered if you are to take responsibility and approve designs.

It will greatly help your chances of getting a job if you have your qualifications assessed by Engineers Australia. Australian employers are worried about the quality of qualifications from some overseas countries. If you can show Engineers Australia accreditation, it removes that concern.

Q 9.

I have passed BE(Mechanical) in 1999. I have worked as a lecturer from since then in an engineering college. I will complete a masters degree in engineering in three months. Can I apply for general skill migration?

A 9.

University lecturers are not on the migration occupations in demand list (MODL) or any other lists. As you have no engineering experience you will struggle to convince assessors you are an engineer; they will see you as a lecturer. Even if you did manage to get a visa, how would you get a job in the current climate? Effectively you are an old graduate competing against Australians with good English.

Q 10.

If I applied for assessment as a professional engineer and they granted me a lower level, is it possible after arriving to Australia to change the category? I plan to obtain a master degree in a relevant field, would that count?

A 10.

If you migrate as a technologist you can be reassessed in Australia. It may not be necessary to do more study to obtain professional engineer accreditation. With better work experience you could write better career episode reports and obtain accreditation as a professional engineer. Do not pay to do more study without being certain of how it will help you.

Q 11.

I have a South African qualification. Will my qualification is recognised in Australia and in the U.S.A. as well?

A 11.

South Africa is a signatory to the Washington Accord, along with Australia, the USA and several other countries.

This means there is mutual recognition of approved engineering courses between these countries. By going to the Washington Accord website you will be able to check if your course is recognised as being at engineer level by the Washington Accord. You need to visit this site and look up your specific institute and course.

If your course is not recognised at professional engineer level, it may be recognised at associate professional level under the Sydney Accord. You can look this up from the Washington Accord  website. The USA is only a provisional signatory to the Sydney Accord.

Q 12.

I have completed my engineering degree in India and I don’t have any work experience. Can my engineering degree in be accredited in Australia?

A 12.

As your course will not qualify under the Washington Accord you will have to write a Competency Demonstration Report (CDR). Some of the career episodes for your CDR can be based on your university course. This could include projects during the course, summer projects and work experience units. In theory it is possible to be accredited without work experience; in practice it will be difficult.

Q 13.

I completed my undergraduate degree in India and am completing a dual degree at an Australian university. Can I be assessed n my Australian engineering qualification. I do not have any past experience related to my field.

A 13.

If your current studies give you an Australian undergraduate engineering qualification, this will be recognised.

For migration purpose your undergraduate qualification is assessed. You cannot use post graduate qualifications obtained in Australia (post grad. diplomas, masters, or PhDs) for qualifications assessment.

For accreditation of your overseas qualification (not Washington Accord ) you will need to prepare a Competency Demonstration Report (CDR), comprising three career episodes.

Q 14.

I have finished my two years master degree in SAP along with information technology. Is this course come on the MODL list? if yes, what are the other requirements for assessment?

A 14.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship web site has a Australian Skills Recognition Information (ASRI)  page. This page tells you the eligibility requirements for each occupation.

You come under the ASCO classification 2231-79 Computer professional (nec). nec = not elsewhere classified. If you go to the occupations in demand list (MODL) you will see SAP programmers listed.

Go to the Australia Computer Society  site to see the assessment criteria in the ACS Guidelines.

ACS can only determine MODL occupations from professional ICT experience.

So they will not consider you for SAP, based on your study alone. You need to have you qualifications assessed by ACS and have 4 years relevant experience.

Q 15.

I am graduate in Computer Science & Engineering. I have 2 years
of work experience and currently doing a job as a software engineer.
I want to apply for a PR visa in Australia.

A 15.

First thing you have to work out is what occupation classification you want to apply as, an engineer or a computing professional. Computing professionals are treated differently to engineers. There is a 4 year experience requirement for computing professionals with an ICT degree. There is no work experience required generally for engineers.

You do not meet the requirements for an computing professional. You can verify this from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship  website.

As a software engineer you will be considered a computing professional, in the not included elsewhere (nec) category rather than an engineer. Software engineers are not listed on Australia’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL)
Have a look through all the categories on the SOL list and select one that you qualify for (you may be able to choose one that best meets your needs for immigration purposes). Once you have selected an occupational category, go to the ‘How to have your skills recognised in Australia’ and see the requirements under skill level.

The Australian Computer Society  assesses computing professionals. Have a look at a diagram at the back of their migration assessment handbook. This illustrates the overlap of engineering and computing professions.

Migrant Engineers – Plan how to Land an Engineering Job in Australia

I spoke to a group of recently arrived migrant engineers in Melbourne, Australia last week. Not one member of the group had a plan of how they were going to land an engineering job in Australia. Not surprisingly some members of the group had made over 100 unsuccessful job applications.

Can you imagine seeing the newspaper headline…

Project Succeeds Without Plan or Budget!

I can’t. But I am constantly talking to migrant engineers who have no plan how they will land an engineering job in Australia.

“Making tens of identical applications to on line agencies is not applying for jobs – it is wasting your time and destroying your confidence.”

Ian Little – Author of Project Australia: Land that Engineering Job in Australia

You came to Australia for the good life. It won’t start until you have a job.

Develop a Project Plan - your Project Australia. Your path out of your current financial hardship eating into your savings.

Your plan will have these elements

- Improving your Australian English

- Accreditation of your qualifications by Engineers Australia

- Becoming an active member of the Australian engineering profession

- Preparing an Australian style CV

- Demonstrating how your experience is relevant to Australian employers

- Developing Australian networks

- Learning what Australian employers are looking for

Write your headline:

Migrant Engineer Succeeds in Australia through Planning…

Learn more about the Project Australia Engineers Migrate Australia Course

Be Professional – that’s part of being an Engineer in Australia

I meet many newly arrived migrant engineers in Australia. Many fail to make a good first impression. They put themselves at a disadvataage before they have even spoken by presenting poorly.

Every time you go to an event to meet other engineers you may meet a potential employer – Prepare properly.

An Australian employer wants an engineer who will make his company look good. Some one who will impress customers.Here are some things you should do every time you are going to a networking event or making a cold call or job interview:


As a professional engineer, you should look like a professional. A suit (and tie for men) is standard dress even in hot parts of the country. An exception is construction sites where you can be more practical. But look smart. Be clean, with tidy hair, and be clean shaven (unless you have a beard). You are selling yourself; look your best. If in doubt, dress up.

Behaviour and body language

You are on show the moment you walk through the door. If you are offhand or rude to the receptionist, others will see and will not be impressed. When you enter a room, smile and look everyone in the eye. If you are carrying a briefcase, have it in your left hand; you need to be ready to shake hands with people as you meet them. Shake hands firmly with both men and women.


Generally employers will want to put you at ease. They will ask questions like “Did you find our office okay?” Answer with a sentence such as “Yes, thanks. The instructions given were good. It took longer than I had expected due to the traffic.” Everyone will feel awkward if just you say “Yes.” Be prepared to talk about the weather, a common subject to open conversations. The next most popular subject is any current major sporting event involving Australians.

Read the newspaper or watch the TV news so you can talk about poplar topics. It takes surprisingly little knowledge to hold a conversation by making broad statements and asking general questions. For example, Australians love cricket, but it is a complex and mysterious game to many people. However, if you know the Australian cricket team has just won or lost a match, you can always comment: “Did you see the cricketers win/lose yesterday? They seem to be playing well/not so well at present.”

Such smalltalk, or idle conversation, is an important sign that you will be able to talk with colleagues in the workplace. Practice smalltalk. It puts you at ease and creates a good first impression.

In Australia it is important to make a good first impression.

Engineers Migrate Australia Pack Video Clip

Attention Engineers! Everything you need to know about migrating to and working in Australia. Play sample Video clip …

This is a video sample from Project Australia – The Engineers Career Pack featuring Ian Little author of Project Australia.

Learn more about the Project Australia Engineers Careers Pack (Migrants and International Students)

Ian Little

Ian Little, is a senior engineering manager. Formerly with WorleyParsons, an Australian owned multi-national engineering company. In this role he has worked in Australia, China and Saudi Arabia managing engineers from a wide range of countries of origin .


Ian was born in Australia, a descendant from Irish ancestors who migrated to Australia in 1850. He is an electrical engineering graduate from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and is a Fellow of Engineers Australia.

Ian developed an admiration for the contribution migrants have made to engineering in Australia through living in the Latrobe Valley Region of Victoria while working with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV). He was so intrigued by the challenge of learning a foreign language as an adult, and developing the language skill to a level suitable for holding down a job, he learnt German and travelled to work in Germany and Switzerland 1975.

Following the privatisation of the SECV, Ian moved on into the private sector and has worked in senior engineering management positions for major engineering companies in Melbourne. He has empathy for the challenges facing migrants, and has mentored migrant engineers settling in Australia.

Australian Engineering Job Interview – a FAQ

    In an engineering job interview in Australia, there are some questions that are always asked. Fariba from Iran has asked me “How do I answer this question?”

    Why do you want to work for our company ?

    Well Fariba, I will not answer this for you! A skill an engineer in the Australian workplace needs is the ability to work things out for yourself.

    Here is a 7 step method to help you to figure out the best answer for you.

  • Make a list of your ambitions, in your life and at work.
  • To this list add your skills – what you have to offer an employer, technical, management and soft skills.
  • Go to the company website and read every part of every page, so you know everything about the company.
  • Make a second list – of the things the company does that you are interested in, and the types of projects/products/services they deliver you would like to be a part of.
  • Add to the company list, the values and general qualities you like about the company.
  • Now put the two lists side by side, the list of what you want, and the list of things from the company that you like or they have to offer.
  • Prepare a simple script, in your words; what you will say when asked the question in a job interview.
  • What you have done is analysed how well you will fit with the company. The best result is when the company can offer you what you want, and you can give the company what they want.

    Here is a simple example to a start you off.

    Things I want / have to offer Things the company offers
    to migrate to Melbourne an office in Melbourne
    systems analysis skills a group that does systems analysis
    experience with XCYZ software use XCYZ software
    travel the world 55 offices in 20 countries
    a large company with many opportunities a major engineering company in Australia

    OK – Now it’s your turn. Find an Australian engineering company on the internet, find out all you can about them. List their features relevant to you. Compare these against your abilities and ambitions.

    In practically everything we do, success is the result of hard work. being successful in an engineering job interview in Australia is no exception.

    For more information on how to answer the questions Australian employers ask engineers

    Click here:

    Project Australia: The Engineers Australian Migrant Pack

    Engineers Australia Overseas Qualified Engineers Special Interest Group

    Engineers Australia Overseas Qualified Engineers Special Interest Group

    Engineers Australia, Victorian Division have formed a special interest group for Overseas Qualified Engineers.

    The Overseas Qualified Engineers Special Interest Group was formed to facilitate migrant engineers finding suitable employment in their profession in Australia.

    The desired outcome of the group is to create a forum through which migrant engineers can enhance their professional skills, develop professional networks and obtain practical advice concerning employment.

    The Overseas qualified Engineers Special Interest Group will be launched on at an event on Monday, August 25, 2008 from 6.00pm-8.00pm. The forum is titled:

    Succeeding in the Engineering Job Market in Australia – What you need to know?

    This event is open to the general public. It will provide attendees with the opportunity to listen to a group of speakers who have overcome the struggles of finding employment in Australia. This is your opportunity to hear first hand experiences, practical advice and understanding what to do and what not to do in finding employment in the industry.

    Presentation – “Getting that job in Engineering… What you need to do” by Enrique Gutierrez, Overseas Qualified Engineers Group Chairman. This presentation will focus on what you need to do to make yourself more employable in Australia. A range of topics will be discussed, including preparing your employment strategy, effective cover letters and CV’s and the importance of networking.

    Panel Discussion – “Finding a job in Australia… Our Journey” – Chaired by Ian Little, author of Project Australia – Land that Engineering Job in Australia, panellists will discuss the challenges they faced in finding employment in Australia, and the strategies they used to overcome these challenges.

    Venue & Address:

    Engineering Australia
    Conference Rooms A&B
    21 Bedford Street, North Melbourne

    To register for this event please email overseasengineers@engineersaustralia.org.au by Thursday 21st August.

    For more details:


    ABC Radio Australia Interview with Ian Little, author of Project Australia

    Audio Interview with Ian Little talking about Project Australia: Land That Engineering Job in Australia on ABC Radio Australia Breakfast Club with Phil Kafcaloudes and Adelaine Ng.

    An in depth interview with Ian Little discussing how engineers can get a job in Australia.

    Author Ian Little is a senior engineering manager with Australian owned multi-national engineering company WorleyParsons and has managed engineers of many nationalities in Australia, China and Saudi Arabia.

    Listen to the radio interview by clicking play on the link below

    Learn more about Project Australia…

    PROJECT AUSTRALIA Engineers Migrate Australia Course

    Project Australia Media Release

    Migrant engineers are driven to despair, disbelief and driving taxis when they are unable to get a job in Australia where the news media continually lead with headlines of a skills shortage!

    Project Australia Ian Little

    You have been in Australia six months, have applied for over fifty jobs and have not even got one interview. Thoughts of a job in engineering seem totally out of the question. So you move to the country, to cheap accommodation, willing to do anything to earn enough to feed your family. Marin Sorescu, a Romanian mechanical engineer with fifteen years experience designing portable oil drilling rigs came to start a new life for his family in Australia in 2002.

    Four years later he was driving a tractor and picking up potatoes as a farm labourer. He had almost lost hope of getting an engineering job. The Australian job market is a minefield to newcomers. Many have poor English, all have no established networks, and they are trying to find jobs when only 20% of the jobs are advertised.

    Project Australia – Land that Engineering Job in Australia is by Ian Little, a veteran engineering manager with Worley Parsons, a major Australian owned multi-national engineering company.Ian has over 40 years in the engineering industry. As a young man he was so impressed by the migrant engineers and supervisors he worked with in the Latrobe Valley power stations he learnt German and went to work in Switzerland and Germany.

    With WorleyParsons he has worked in Australia, China and Saudi Arabia managing engineers from a wide range of countries of origin. Ian has been there and done it! Ian is clear and direct – as engineers can be. Migration and getting a job are dealt with as a project. Make a plan and budget, and follow it!

    In Project Australia, Ian covers the demographics of the Australian engineering industry, the labour market, an overview of visas, accreditation, planning, improving English, engineering organisations, sources of assistance, the hidden job market, CVs, selection criteria, and job interviews. There is a chapter devoted specifically to issues for international students.The first hand accounts of successes from migrants highlight the impact of the struggle to get that first job in engineering in Australia. Marin Sorescu joined an English for Migrants TAFE course. Through this he improved his English and also developed a CV that was suitable for Australian employers. He participated in a one month work experience which resulted in an offer of permanent employment. This was a life changing experience for Marin who had almost given up hope of an engineering career in Australia.

    When Samir Kadhum arrived in Australia in 2001, he had six years of experience as a construction supervisor in Iraq. Unable to get a similar job in Melbourne he started working for a refrigeration company. He sent off many emails for better jobs, but had only a couple of interviews. Through an employment program he was encouraged to use a mentor. He discussed the next job he went for with his mentor before the interview. They discussed likely questions and appropriate answers. He was offered a job at the interview.Shenaz Patel, an international electrical engineering student from Melbourne University provides a text book example for other international students to follow. She used her internet skills to research likely employers before attending career fairs. Armed with this information she was able to ask a wide range of questions. This set her up for success when she was interviewed for a graduate position.

    Project Australia – Land that Engineering Job in Australia is a book written by an engineer for engineers. It is a very comprehensive guide to the information required when planning migration to and winning a job in Australia, all contained in a single easy-to-understand document. The concept of managing migration as a project will utilise the natural talents of engineers and help them establish themselves quickly in Australia. This book is a ‘must have’ for engineers looking to migrate to Australia

    Julie Hammer, National President, Engineers Australia

    Project Australia was born when tribus lingua founder Ailis Logan telephoned Ian Little after hearing him speak at an Overseas Qualifications Unit forum in Melbourne. Over coffee she asked if he knew of any engineers who could write. Ian’s response was ‘That’s an oxymoron isn’t it – engineers who can write?” Ailis was not deterred…

    Their next meeting was more serious – an outline was formulated. A common bond of Irish ancestry was established – Ian’s Irish forefathers migrated to Australia 150 years before Ailis reached Australian shores.

    Ian has adopted a new twist to an old line ‘Beware of Irish bearing wine. The Greeks are fine.’ Project Australia: Land that Engineering Job in Australia by Ian Little

    Learn more…


    Ian Little is available for interview by contacting Tribus Lingua Media
    Contact: Ailis Logan 03 9416 4751 or support@tribuslingua.com.au

    Good English is essential for Engineering Jobs In Australia

    Latest news as to why good English is essential for Landing an engineering job in Australia.

    The Australian newspaper reported today April 29

    ‘TENS of thousands of skilled migrants from countries such as China and India are struggling to find professional jobs in Australia, says a new report. Despite the nation’s acute skills shortage, employers are shunning the new arrivals because of their poor English, according to the Monash University study.

    Report authors Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy, from Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, said Australia’s massive skilled migration program was failing to solve the job shortage.

    The authors said that the main problem in finding professional jobs was poor English skills, but the program was dominated by migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds.”

    The following is an extract about the importance of good English to get an engineering job in Australia taken from the book Project Australia: Land That Engineering Job in Australia by Ian Little

    Australian language

    To obtain an engineering job in Australia and keep it, you must be able to understand what is written or being said by people you are working with. You must also be able to communicate to others the results of your work. If you can’t communicate effectively in English, you will not be able to get an engineering job in Australia. Unless you can afford to spend a year or more developing your English after you have landed in Australia, preparation before you board a plane is a cost-effective investment.

    Overseas students studying in Australia need to take the opportunity to develop their language skills so their written and spoken Australian is fluent; equal to an Australian. Overseas students are competing directly with Australians when applying for graduate positions. Employers will not accept poor Australian language if you have studied in Australia. Overseas students must avoid the trap of staying within the comfort of their own nationality group and speaking minimal Australian.

    Improving your language skills to Land That Engineering Job in Australia

    There are two aspects to building your Australian Engineering language skill: spoken and written. The relative ability you need will depend on the engineering field you are looking to work in. As a minimum, you will need:
    • Everyday language for getting around
    • Technical terms as used by Australians in your discipline

    Chapter 5 provides a number of ways to help you improve your Australian English. You will need to get out of your comfort zone to develop good English communication skills, essential for you to be successful as an Australian Engineer.

    This post includes extracts taken from Project Australia: Land That Engineering Job in Australia by Ian Little due for publication May 2008

    ©Ian Little. All rights reserved, no part of this may be reproduced without permission rights from the publisher. Contact us www.tribuslingua.com.au

    Read more of Ian’s advice:

    Australian CV for engineers

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