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Biosecurity officer

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Summary of occupation

​Biosecurity officers work at checkpoints across Western Australia to prevent unwanted pests, weeds and diseases being brought into the state. They control the movement of agricultural and horticultural produce, and examine incoming and outgoing animals, plants, food, humans and machinery. They may screen and inspect mail parcels, baggage, cargo containers and ships entering Western Australia. They identify anything that poses a biosecurity risk and these items may be confiscated or destroyed.

ANZSCO description: Inspects incoming animals, plants, and animal and plant products to ensure compliance with laws and regulations to prevent the spread of exotic pests and diseases.
Alternative names: Quarantine officer, Quarantine inspector
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A biosecurity officer needs:

  • sound knowledge of pests and diseases
  • good verbal and written communication skills
  • strong analytical and research skills
  • to be observant with attention to detail
  • good organisational and problem solving skills
  • the ability to remain calm and patient in high pressure situations
  • to be able to work independently and as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Biosecurity officers work in airports, ports, mail centres, in the field, and at border crossings throughout Western Australia. They may also work inspecting aircrafts, or vessels in open water. Biosecurity officers may be required to travel between locations or work in regional areas.

Biosecurity officers may need to work shiftwork, including weekends and public holidays.

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Salary details

​On average, biosecurity officers can expect to earn between $1 100 and $1 763 per week ($57 729 and $91 701 per year), depending on their duties and level of experience. As a biosecurity officer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Biosecurity officers use equipment such as X-ray machines to screen mail parcels and baggage, and detector dogs are used to locate materials that pose a quarantine risk. They may also administer special treatments, tests and washes on livestock entering into the state. Biosecurity officers use computers to perform research, write reports, and produce documentation to record the movement of agricultural products.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a biosecurity officer you must first become an employee of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development​. You will then be required to undertake a VET qualification in government and will be provided with training on the job.

Applicants must be an Australian citizen, and need to hold a current National Police Certificate, pass medical checks, and may also need to hold a driver’s licence to drive manual vehicles.

Contact the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for more information.

Completing a bachelor degree in agricultural science, biological sciences, animal science or a related area may improve your employment chances in obtaining a specialist role.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Murdoch University offers the 18 month Master of Biosecurity. This is the only degree specialising in biosecurity available in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information.

Related courses

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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.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

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.

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