An agricultural engineer needs:
- good oral and written communication skills
- to enjoy technical and engineering activities
- to be able to identify, analyse and solve problems
- to be responsible and work well unsupervised
- to be creative as well as practical
- to adhere to safety requirements.
Agricultural engineers usually work regular hours in an office, a laboratory or research station, on a farm or in a forest. They may be required to work irregular hours due to the project they are working on.
Agricultural engineers work for private consulting firms or manufacturers and distributors of agricultural irrigation equipment, corporate farms and government departments such as water supply and agriculture.
On average, agricultural engineers, classified under other engineering professionals, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an agricultural engineer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Agricultural engineers regularly use computers and generally need to be proficient with a wide range of engineering design and construction equipment depending on the area they are working in.
To become an agricultural engineer you usually need to complete a degree in agricultural engineering. Alternatively, you can complete an undergraduate degree in engineering with a major in chemical, civil, environmental or mechanical engineering, followed by a postgraduate qualification in agricultural engineering.
There are no university courses available in agricultural engineering in Western Australia.
The University of Southern Queensland currently offers the only agricultural engineering bachelor degree in Australia. Students may enter this course in either the second or third year by first completing part of a Bachelor of Engineering degree in their home state.
Most universities in Western Australia offer degrees in engineering, with majors in chemical, civil, environmental or mechanical streams.
Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.