Get on the tools: VET pathways into trades & engineering

VET pathways into engineering

If you enjoy working with your hands, learning on the job and figuring out how stuff works, a career in the trades could be right up your alley

Sometimes seen as uni’s little brother or sister, vocational education and training – or VET – is actually huge. In fact, in 2020, a whopping 3.9 million students took a VET course or subject. So what makes the VET system so great?

The VET qualification system is designed so that you can start small and build your skills. In most trades, an apprenticeship is required to become qualified, which includes completing a Certificate III or IV. But the Certificate II provides an introduction – also known as a pre-apprenticeship.

Another option is to study at a TAFE full-time or go through another training provider. You can complete a Certificate II or III fairly quickly and get a head-start in the job market or spend a year or two on a diploma or advanced diploma for more specialised knowledge. These qualifications can also provide a stepping stone to further study at uni.

Expressions of interest

There are so many opportunities to use engineering skills in the trades – you could be an aircraft mechanic, a metal worker, clockmaker, blacksmith or even a boat builder! Here are a few VET pathways into engineering to get you thinking.

Fitters and turners make things out of metal using tools and machines. They work with very precise measurements, so accuracy is essential!

Salary: $50K–$86K
What to study: Certificate III in Engineering (Mechanical Trade)

Locksmiths don’t just cut keys and change locks – they also install security systems, repair locking mechanisms and provide security advice. Lots of locksmiths work with security firms, but many run their own businesses.

Salary: $42K–$70K
What to study: Certificate III in Locksmithing (as part of an apprenticeship)

Electricians are in high demand, with the number of jobs projected to grow more than 10% in the next five years.

Salary: $46K–$99K (domestic) / $68K–$88K (commercial)
What to study: Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start), followed by Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

A draftsperson creates technical drawings for manufacturing and engineering. They use computer- aided design (CAD) skills and may be involved in estimating material costs.

Salary: $43K–$92K
What to study: The Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting will help you on the way to an entry-level role.

Salaries according to

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2022. Find out more about VET pathways into engineering and other areas of STEM over here.

Chloe Walker

Author: Chloe Walker

Chloe is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne. She loves talking to people about their passions, whether that’s STEM, arts, business, or something else entirely!


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