Uni not 4 u? Consider these alternatives to university

Check out these alternatives to university for engineering careers.

Getting into engineering usually requires four years at uni plugging away at a Bachelor (Honours) degree or a five-year Masters degree. Then there’s the certification by an engineering professional body, such as Engineers Australia. But if the uni pathway isn’t the right fit for you, there are alternatives to university that can take you to the engineering dream.

Completing a Diploma of Engineering or a program like STEMship at TAFE NSW Newcastle means you can jump straight into work as an engineering technician.

You can also move into a technical or management role through a one-year Diploma or two-year Advanced Diploma of Engineering.

You could even establish your own project-management startup! If you decide to change direction along the way, a Diploma of Engineering can also be used as a step into further study so your options are always open.

You can’t lose! Check out our options to find the alternative that fits you…

“Most students nominated physics, chemistry, extension maths and computer science as the senior subjects to study if you want to be an engineer”

– Careers with Stem Student Survey.

“Over 60% of the students are familiar with electrical, mechanical and software engineering, but less than 30% know about environmental, materials, mechatronics  or mining engineering”

– Careers with Stem Student Survey.


Which engineer are you?
artificial intelligence

Where to get your non-degree study on

Macquarie University – Diploma of Engineering

RMIT – Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Engineering

TAFE Queensland – Diploma of Engineering-Technical

UTS Insearch – Diploma of Engineering

Victoria University – Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology

STEMship program

STEMship is an Australian-first VET pathway for high school kids.

The 15-week program kicked off in May this year, accepting 16 students in Years 10–12 from the Hunter Region, at TAFE NSW Newcastle.

Year 11 student Zane Folpp is looking forward to gaining practical skills that will prepare him for a job in advanced manufacturing.

“I’m interested in the engineering and manufacturing side of things and enjoy getting my hands dirty, pulling things apart and putting them back together. I believe by doing this program and having valuable contact with industries, I will be a step above other candidates,” Zane says.

Completing STEMship gets you a full Certificate III in Engineering – Technical, as well as a month-long practical industry placement.

TAFE NSW Head of SkillsPoint, Karen Humphreys says, “it’s our job to ensure students are equipped with real, practical skills and experience needed to be in demand and get the job they want.”

Project management start-up

Siobhan Tagell worked in office-product management and as the director of a charitable fund before finding her engineering career as the founder of Perfect Plan Project Management.

Her startup is dedicated to making home construction projects run smoothly. The idea came about from Siobhan’s own experiences in renovating. “It’s really hard to do while running your work and personal life,” Siobhan explains.

She saw an opportunity for a business that would manage the process for others, making construction projects simpler, cheaper and much less stressful for the client. Siobhan manages the project from start to finish, although her clients are free to have as much involvement as they like.

“I have a cachet of trusted contractors who I partner with, including architects, builders, renderers, painters, plumbers and electricians. I also have a female architect and electrician – girl power!” says Siobhan.

Her favourite parts of her role include problem solving unexpected issues for her clients. “I like to see an idea come to fruition, from the first plan to finalisation,” she says.

Advanced Diploma of Engineering, RMIT

Former tradie Rory Geoghegan was tossing around the idea of studying to become an electrician when he enrolled in a Certificate IV in Telecommunications at TAFE.

Along the way, he discovered that he was really interested in network infrastructure – the hardware and software resources that support computing, like servers and routers. Rory completed the Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems (CS) Engineering at RMIT and loved it.

The course gave him a great background in networks and completely prepared him for industry certification.

Through his diploma, Rory has gained entry into a Bachelor of Engineering (Computers & Networks, Honours) at RMIT and is working part-time as an e-learning assistant.

“My favourite thing about CS engineering is that it’s challenging, it really makes you think,” says Rory.

Diploma of Engineering, UTS Insearch

Andrew Moon was always interested in technology and gadgets but worked in sales after high school.

Keen to expand his skills, he enrolled in a Diploma of Software Engineering through the UTS Insearch program. “It’s a great stepping stone to further study. The requirements are really clear and the smaller cohort means you can develop close friendships,” says Andrew.

– Larissa Fedunik-Hofman

Larissa Fedunik-Hofman

Author: Larissa Fedunik-Hofman

Larissa is the editorial assistant for Careers with STEM and a Chemistry PhD student. Larissa’s goal is to promote public engagement with STEM through inspiring stories.


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