Inside STEM careers in water management

Water management careers
If you have STEM skills – the water industry is flooding with opportunities. Image: Shutterstock

Water is literally essential for life – which is why STEM experts are needed to ensure our water supplies are safe, sustainable and secure

You might not think much about water until you feel thirsty and fill a glass of H2O from the tap – but the truth is, water is a massive deal. Not only do we need ready access to clean, fresh water for our own survival, it’s essential for industries including agriculture, manufacturing and mining.

Too little of the stuff, crops fail and economies crunch. Too much of the stuff and towns and farms go underwater.

And where there’s water being used, there’s wastewater to deal with. Done properly, this can be turned into a valuable resource itself, but poorly managed wastewater can lead to disease and environmental catastrophe.

Fresh is best

So, who are the clever people designing, building and managing all of this critical infrastructure, and keeping that fresh water flowing from your tap, or flushing the toilet? That’s right: engineers.

Water engineers are behind critical projects like dams and desalination plants, sewerage and stormwater systems, and they are the experts working to prevent or respond to water-related natural disasters like drought and flood.

And with challenges such as climate change, population growth and the ageing of our existing water infrastructure all on the cards, the need for expertise is stronger than ever.

Ready to kickstart your career in water engineering? Dive in!

Stats splash

$22.68 billion The annual revenue of the water sector in Australia

27,700 The number of people employed in Australia’s water sector

12% Increase in civil engineers employed in the water sector by 2025

2746 GL water extracted for agricultural use alone in Australia in 2019-20 (that’s more than 5 Sydney Harbours in case you were wondering!)

Sources include: Australian Industry and Skills Committee and Australian Bureau of Statistics 

Soaking up skills

Nope, we don’t mean learning to swim – these skills have all been predicted as priority and in demand for all jobs in Australia’s water industry 

  • STEM 
  • Digital & technology
  • Health & safety
  • Operational skills
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning
  • Leadership

Aussie water Twitter

Fill your feed with these water-related accounts and be part of the conversation!

@stukhan: Stuart Khan is a Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UNSW, and prolific tweeter of all things water engineering related. #MentorGoals

@AustralianWater: Follow Australia’s leading water membership association for industry news and insights

@mcookhistory: Margaret Cook isn’t an engineer, but she is a “historian interested in disasters, floods, droughts, rivers, water politics and land development” – aka all relevant if you’re interested in a career designing and building water infrastructure.

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2022


Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.


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