Defence industry information for students and career starters

If you're looking for an exciting, long term career working at the forefront of industry — start something with WA's defence industry! 

Western Australia's defence industry is is recognised as one of the most highly educated, qualified and skilled of its type in the world; and as a trusted, stable and growing sector. Our defence industry is growing — it's already estimated to contribute over $3 billion a year to WA's economy, and that's set to double within the next decade.

People from all walks of life are enjoying exciting jobs, with the kind of work you'll only do as part of the defence industry, and it all starts with the right training and taking that first step towards your future career.

A career in the defence industry has so much to offer!

Follow the links below to find out about training and education pathways to start something with WA's defence industry, career opportunities, and more. 

You can also visit our Defence industry page for information about WA's defence industry and the opportunities it offers.

Free advice about training, jobs and careers

A specialist defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre (JSC). They can help with information about training, support to help with your job search or career change, and advice about career options.

All services at the Rockingham JSC, and at all other JSCs across WA, are free and available to anyone. 

Find out more about how they can help

 

Start something with WA's defence industry.

Here's just a few reasons why you should start something with WA's defence industry...

  • An exciting career at the forefront of industry
  • Working with exciting new technologies
  • Being part of WA's future success in major defence projects
  • A range of trade, paraprofessional, professional and specialist jobs
  • A range of work on interesting and challenging projects
  • Supporting our Australian Defence Force (ADF)
  • Ongoing opportunities for learning and skills development 
  • Career progression opportunities into leadership roles

It's estimated that an additional 1,100 skilled workers are required by 2027 across all defence domains, including in regional areas of WA.

Future work includes the demand created by new ship build and sustainment projects, and other opportunities that may come to the state such as eight mine warfare and hydrographic vessels; two large joint support ships; a range of defence projects to support Australia’s Army, Air Force and the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) which includes Australia's acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. 

With so many opportunities now and into the future, what a great time to start something with WA's defence industry!

Training and education

Options and pathways

When it comes to starting something with WA's defence industry — whether that's getting a job or progressing your career — having skills and knowledge can really give you the edge. There's a range of vocational education and training (VET) and university courses available that can set you up with the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. And there's never been a better time to get into training, with over 100 courses FREE IN '23, and course fees reduced by half price or more on a range of qualifications through Lower fees, local skills

Once you have identified the type of work you are interested in, and/or the occupation you're going for, you can find a course or qualification that offers the skills and knowledge you'll need to be job ready. 

Male and female defence worker sitting at desk and smiling at camera

Training and education

Training for the defence industry

There's a course or qualification for almost every job in the defence industry — from trades and technical work through to project manager roles, and everything in between!

Getting an apprenticeship or traineeship

While the defence industry does offer some entry level jobs that don't require a trade or qualification, and for some occupations you can do a course to learn the skills needed or work your way up to specialist roles through on the job experience, some types of work require specialist skills and knowledge or you'll need to be trades qualified — these jobs are offered through an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Getting experience without a job is not easy... right? That's where apprenticeships and traineeships come in! You combine work with training, you're employed so you'll earn while you learn, and you come out not only skilled and experienced but also with a nationally recognised qualification. And there's even pre-traineeships and pre-apprenticeships, which can be your pathway into a full apprenticeship or traineeship, or school-based apprenticeships and traineeships that you can complete in Year 11 and 12 for a headstart on your career! Take a look at the following information to find out more.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships

A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship (SBAT) is an employment-based learning pathway for secondary school (Years 11 and 12). It combines off the job training at a TAFE college or training provider, and paid on the job training through a work placement, that leads to a nationally recognised qualification and can count towards your WACE.  An SBAT is designed to give you skills and knowledge in your chosen field or while you're still at school, to give your career a head start. There's also the Aboriginal school-based apprenticeship/ traineeship program, for Aboriginal students in years 10, 11 and 12.

SBATs are available in a range of study areas, including many that are relevant to the defence industry.

To find out more about SBATs, you can visit our Still at school page here, speak to your school, or call your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64 for free information and advice.

Pre-apprenticeships and traineeships

A pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeships is a Certificate II program that includes a work placement component, coordinated by your TAFE or training provider. You will get industry specific training, combined with hands-on experience in a real workplace, to gain valuable industry skills and knowledge that will prepare you for employment and make you more competitive when applying for jobs or a full apprenticeship or traineeship. It also gives you an opportunity to find out whether a particular industry or type of work is right for you.

Do I have to do a pre-apprenticeship/traineeship to get an apprenticeship/traineeship?
No, there is no requirement to have completed a pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship before starting an apprenticeship or traineeship. However, if you do go on to a full apprenticeship or traineeship you may receive credit for the units you have completed, which could shorten the time it takes to complete a full traineeship or apprenticeship.

There are many pre-apprenticeship courses​ on offer at TAFE colleges and training providers, in a range of study areas related to the defence industry. Course fees do apply, but right now there's a range of pre-apprenticeships with half price course fees with some pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships under $200, through the Skills Ready Lower fees, local skills program.

Take a look at our defence industry course list to see what pre-traineeships are available with half price course fees (select the 'half price' icon), or browse the full Jobs and Skills WA course list here.  

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are an excellent way to combine training with work, enabling you to have a job — earn while you learn — as you complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. They are available to anyone of working age — you can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce, or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. When you finish your apprenticeship or traineeship you will have a nationally recognised qualification. 

Apprenticeships typically take two to four years to complete and traditionally cover skilled trade areas such as automotive, engineering, electrotechnology, and building and construction. An apprenticeship is a structured program with a combination of on the job training, where you gain hands-on skills and knowledge, and off the job training at a TAFE or training provider. Your off the job training may be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis (eg; one day per fortnight), or as a block release across the year — for example; you might work full time for six weeks and then do a two-week block of training. Upon successful completion, apprentices become a qualified tradesperson.

Traineeships can take between one to two years to complete and offer a broad range of vocational and occupational choices — anything from business and finance, human resources, multimedia and information technology, through to sport and fitness, agriculture, hospitality and civil engineering. A traineeship is a structured program with a combination of on the job training where you gain hands-on skills and knowledge, and off the job training at a TAFE or training provider. Your off the job training may be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis (eg; one day per fortnight), or as a block release across the year — for example; you might work full time for six weeks and then do a two-week block of training. Upon successful completion, trainees receive a nationally recognised qualification in their chosen vocational area.

Take a look at our defence industry course list to see what apprenticeships and traineeships are available, including some with half price course fees (select the 'half price' icon), or browse the full Jobs and Skills WA course list here.  

To do an apprenticeship or traineeship, you must be employed. So how do you find an employer?

  • You can go out and find an employer yourself, by searching for advertised jobs or contacting a company directly. Many of the larger employers in the defence industry run regular recruitment programs for apprenticeships and traineeships — check How do I get a job in the defence industry?  for more information to help you with this. 
  • There are a number of Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers in WA that are funded by the Australian Government to provide advice and assistance to help you find an apprenticeship or traineeship and organise everything to get you started. 

You can find out more on our Apprenticeships and traineeships page here, or call your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64 for free information and advice. 

There's also some great information on the Australian Apprenticeships website about finding an apprenticeship or traineeship, including some useful tips for how to approach employers.

Group training organisations

Another option is to find an apprenticeship or traineeship through a group training organisation (GTO). 

GTOs employ apprentices and trainees across a range of different industries. You are directly employed by the GTO, but they 'host' you out to an employer for work. This can be a great option as you may have the opportunity to work with more than one employer during your apprenticeship or traineeship — giving you a wider range of experience. GTOs are experts in hiring apprentices and trainees, and are regulated to make sure they are doing the right thing by their employees.

Step 1: Register with a GTO
You can look through our list of WA GTOs here, and check their information to find what industry/sector and/or type of apprenticeship or traineeship they specialise in. The next step is to register with the GTO (you can register with as many as you like) so that they have your details if a suitable vacancy arises.

Step 2: Recruitment process
You will have an initial interview with the GTO, so that they can find out more about the type of apprenticeship or traineeship you're looking for and discuss options. If you are suitable, the GTO will either offer you an apprenticeship or traineeship or let you know when one becomes available.

When you start your apprenticeship or traineeship, your GTO will help you prepare to meet your host employer. They will also provide any pre-employment training that's required; such as workplace health and safety, and the basic personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the role. 

After you start your apprenticeship or traineeship, the GTO will assign you a field officer who will be your direct contact point if there's any issues or if you have any queries about your apprenticeship or traineeship. Your field officer will also monitor your training and work, and check in to make sure that everything is going smoothly.

All aspects of your apprenticeship or traineeship through a GTO are the same as any other apprenticeship or traineeship — it's really only the actual employment arrangements that are different; ie you are employed and paid by the GTO rather than by the company where you're doing the apprenticeship or traineeship. 

WA TAFE colleges 

Whilst all TAFE colleges across WA offer courses that align with defence industry careers, South Metropolitan TAFE has over 20 years' experience working with the defence industry. They specialise in training for a range of occupations including structural steel and welding, metal fitter and machinists, and electricians and also provide training in a range of apprenticeships and traineeships for WA's defence industry.

SMTAFE's Naval Base campus, located alongside the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, has recently had a $2.4 million redevelopment and offers the very latest technology and equipment — including 16 new augmented reality welding simulators (pictured at right) — with a focus on engineering, fabrication and maritime courses.

Find out more about defence training at SMTAFE

This video features Walter, a welding and fabrication lecturer at South Metropolitan TAFE, and gives you a look at the training that happens in the state of the art facilities available for defence industry training. 

In this short video Amore talks about her Certificate II in Engineering (Heavy Fabrication) pre-apprenticeship. She loves the hands-on work, and plans to complete a full apprenticeship so that she can work FIFO on the mines.  

WA universities

If you’re looking for career opportunities in a professional occupation in the defence industry — for example;  engineering or computer science — gaining a university qualification is the first step.   WA's universities and defence industry are working together to ensure that the qualifications available at our universities will provide Western Australia with defence ready graduates, ready to step into these important fields within the industry.  

Browse the following WA university websites to see what they have to offer for defence industry training and education.
 


You can also visit Defence West's  Defence Capability Directory to read more about the key areas of defence industry focus for each of the universities.

jtsi.wa.gov.au/economic-development/defence-west/wa's-defence-capability (select the Academic Institutions tab).  

Teaming up for defence education

WA's four top-ranked universities — Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, Murdoch University and The University of WA — are collaborating together as "Team WA" to offer specialised research and education programs to support the current and future needs of our defence sector.

All four universities have programs in areas such as engineering that relate directly to defence, but each one also offers highly specialised research and education programs in a range of areas including drone technology and artificial intelligence, maritime and undersea operations, super computing,  remote and autonomous operations, and planetary science.  

Read the full story by Kristian Constantinides (source:  Business News)

Defence industry courses

The course listed below are all specifically related to jobs in WA's defence industry, but there are many other courses across a range of industry and/or study areas that align with defence industry occupations.  To expand your course search into other industries, use the search filters. 

There's never been a better time to get into training — we have over 100 courses that are FREE in '23*, plus a wide range of qualifications with course fees reduced by half or more with an annual fees cap!
 

  • Select from the filters under Skills Ready if you would like to search for free courses or reduced-fee* qualifications
  • If you're looking for something specific, remove the industry filter and enter one or more keywords such as "welding" or ''submarine"
  • To find out more about a course, select its title. You can also add courses to a favourites list, to save them for later
Displaying 1 - 10 of 33 courses
Favourites

    Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology - Electrical

    National ID : UEE62111 | State ID : A175

    Charge up your career in electrical engineering!

    This qualification gives you the skills for the implementation of smart homes (Internet of Things), automated industrial production line mechatronics, administering or upgrading infrastructure for small to large scale businesses among many other innovative applications.

    Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology - Electrical

    National ID : UEE62120 | State ID : BFN8

    Charge up your career in electrical engineering — FREE IN '23!

    This qualification gives you the skills for the implementation of smart homes (Internet of Things), automated industrial production line mechatronics, administering or upgrading infrastructure for small to large scale businesses among many other innovative applications.

    Advanced Diploma of Engineering [Mechatronics]

    National ID : MEM60112 | State ID : WB92

    Construct a career in mechatronics

    The Advanced Diploma of Engineering (Mechatronics) offers high level technical and practical skills and knowledge in electrical machinery, mechanical principles and mechanical equipment. You'll learn a range of computer aided drafting (CAD) skills, how to produce drawings for design specifications and how to interpret and create drawings components for the manufacture of equipment.

    Advanced Diploma of Information Technology

    National ID : ICT60220 | State ID : BGJ5

    Level up your career in the world of technology!

    If you're seeking a leadership role in information technology, or need some high level skills and knowledge for a specialist project or career move, the Advanced Diploma of Information Technology is for you!

    Advanced Diploma of Network Security (Cyber Security)

    National ID : ICT60215 | State ID : AB51

    Get a secure role in a growth industry

    Be part of Australia's strong cyber defences with this Advanced Diploma of Network Security (Cyber Security) - it will give you the tools you need.

    Certificate II in Engineering (Heavy Fabrication Pre-Apprenticeship)

    National ID : MEM20105 | State ID : AA50

    Ready to fire up an exciting fabrication career?

    Heavy fabrication is the perfect job for anyone who enjoys working with big machinery and equipment, and this is the perfect course to get you started in entry level work or to give you a head start on an apprenticeship. 

    Certificate II in Engineering (Mechanical Fitter and Machinist Pre-Apprenticeship)

    National ID : MEM20105 | State ID : AA49

    Get a head start on your engineering apprenticeship!

    The world of engineering offers many fantastic career opportunities, and skilled mechanical fitters and machinists are always in high demand!

    Certificate III in Defence Industry Pathways

    National ID : 52864WA | State ID : BGQ62

    Get set for an exciting career in WA's defence industry! FREE IN '23!

    If you're keen to get started on an exciting career in WA's defence industry, this is the qualification for you! 

    Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

    National ID : UEE30820 | State ID : BFN0

    A career choice for bright sparks

    Are you looking to start an electrical apprenticeship? This trade-level qualification is the course for you.

    Certificate III in Engineering - Composites Trade

    National ID : MEM31119 | State ID : BEK4

    Kick start your composites trade career!

    This qualification covers the skills and knowledge required by a tradesperson working with composites within the aerospace, civil construction, general manufacturing, marine, vehicle, metal, engineering, manufacturing and associated industries.

    Displaying 1 - 10 of 33 courses

    *Eligibility conditions apply for reduced-fee qualifications, the annual fees cap, and free training. Please visit our Skills Ready page for full details.

    Occupations and careers in the defence industry

    Now is a great time to consider a career in WA's defence industry! Jobs and occupations are vast and varied — everything from trades areas such as welders, fitters and machinists, shipbuilders, mechanical fitters/pipe fitters, refrigeration and airconditioning technicians, boilermakers, mechanical engineers, marine fabricators, and electricians through to paraprofessional and professional roles such as engineers, information technology specialists, project managers, and cyber security professionals. 

    What will be a good fit with who you are, and what you want for your future? Will you need new skills to get into a particular occupation or job? To help answer these questions, we have a collection of occupation profiles you can browse through — these profiles are not defence industry specific, the information provided is of a general nature, but you can use the keyword search or look through the A—Z list to find occupations that are available in WA's defence industry.

     View the occupation profiles

    How do I get a job in the defence industry?

    What kind of job do you want?

    With such a range of jobs available in the defence industry, the first step is to decide what kind of work you would like to do. It would also be useful to consider whether you're keen on getting into a particular field within the industry, as the work environments can be very different — for example, do you like the idea of working in a trade such as welding or fabrication, or a technical specialty such as information technology or cyber security?

    The following websites may be useful.

    Do you need to skill up?

    If you're after a specific occupation or looking to make a career move then skilling up through training is the way to go. 

    Right now there's a huge range qualifications with course fees reduced by half or more under the Lower fees, local skills program... and even better, there's an annual cap on course fees, so you can supersize your study but only pay as little as $400 in course fees for the year!

    Please note: To get into some jobs in the defence industry, you'll need to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship. See below for more information about this. 

    What about apprenticeships and traineeships?

    Some jobs in the defence industry require specialist skills and knowledge, and a trades qualification — these jobs are offered through an apprenticeship or traineeship.
     

    With an apprenticeship or traineeship, you will complete a program of work and training over a period of time (generally two to four years). You are employed, and paid, during this time. 

    Take a look at Getting an apprenticeship or traineeship for more information

    Ready for the job search?

    Because WA's Defence Industry is rapidly growing, the demand for skilled workers has never been higher! Most job opportunities are advertised online — here's some places to start your search.
     

    There's also some companies who specialise in recruitment for the defence industry. We recommend doing an internet search to find out more about what services they offer for jobseekers. And if you're on social media, there's several groups on Facebook and Instagram that regularly post job opportunities — do a search to find them. 

    Top tip: Sometimes the best approach is a direct one — most of the major defence industry companies operating in WA advertise job opportunities on their website, and/or their social media pages. Make a list of the companies you're interested in, and do an internet search to find them. Or check the WA Industry and Defence Network members directory here, for a helpful list. 

    Would you like some free information, advice or help?

    If you’re interested in working in WA's defence industry, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help with free advice on career planning and training to help you get there.

    And if you've spotted a job you want to go for, they can help freshen up your CV and even help you put your job application together. Need some tips for job interviews? They can do that too!

    Because Jobs and Skills Centres work closely with local employees and industries, they know where the jobs are and how you can get them.  And they know what employers are looking for. There's 15 JSCs across Perth and regional WA, and all services are free. Call your local JSC on 13 64 64, or check our map to find your closest centre. 

    Specialist defence industry careers team
    A dedicated defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre to provide advice to jobseekers and potential defence industry workers about options for training, and to assist with career planning. All services are free, and available to anyone in WA. To contact the team, call or email the Rockingham JSC or drop in for a chat.

    08 9599 8655
    E: defence.careers@smtafe.wa.edu.au

    South Metropolitan TAFE Rockingham campus
    Building G, Simpson Avenue Rockingham

    Opportunities for all ages, all stages

    WA's defence industry offers opportunities for all ages, and all stages. And remember, you can talk to our specialist defence industry team for free training and career advice, or assistance applying for jobs!

    Opportunities for Aboriginal people

    Many defence industry employers have programs such as apprenticeships and traineeships for Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples, which offer fantastic opportunities to achieve a trades or professional qualification.

    And if you're still at school, doing an Aboriginal school-based apprenticeship or traineeship in Years 11 and 12 can get you job ready when you finish your studies.

    In this short video, you'll hear from Blaine and Alex who each followed a different pathway but they're now both doing an electrical apprenticeship, and are very happy with their decision to join WA's defence industry.   

    Scholarships and special programs

    To help create even more opportunities to start something with WA's defence industry, a range of scholarships and specialist programs are available. You may be able to access free training to upskill or re-skill for a career change, and have the opportunity to explore a new future! Read on to find out more.
    Start something with WA's defence industry
    Start something with WA's defence industry

    Women in Defence Industry scholarship program

    The Women in Defence Industry scholarship program is delivered by South Metropolitan TAFE, in partnership with industry. The program offers two qualifications, achieved over six months; the Certificate II in Electronics, and the Certificate III in Engineering — Technical, which can open up a range of job and career opportunities in the defence industry.  

    Applications are now open for 2023!

    The scholarship will provide valuable skills for women who have just finished school, are returning to work, or seeking a career change. 20 scholarships are offered every year (2021-2024), each to a value of $5,000 for training. This is an outstanding opportunity to kickstart your defence industry career!

    For full details please visit South Metropolitan TAFE's website via the link below, or download the information flyer.

    From workbooks to work boots!

    Kate was successful in obtaining one of the Women in Defence Industry scholarships and recently completed a Certificate II Electronic and a Certificate III in Engineering – Technical.

    Kate was previously a bookkeeper for nine years, and this scholarship gave her the confidence to change her career and take a leap to study in a new area for a new career.

    In this short video Kate talks about how the program gave her a whole new range of skills, helped her to realise her own potential, and find a new excitement for her future career in WA's defence industry.

    Defence Industry Pathways Program

    This exciting program, developed in partnership with WA's maritime defence industry and South Metropolitan TAFE , is perfect for career changers. It's designed as a "taster" covering a range of areas — including cyber security, logistics, engineering, and technical — to help you decide on a pathway to an exciting defence industry career. Course fees are fully subsidised, with no cost at all to participants.

    The Defence Industry Pathways Program offers a fully funded, 12-month paid traineeship — this includes paid annual leave, personal leave and superannuation paid during the period of the traineeship. The Commonwealth Government is contributing almost $45,000 per trainee to fund wages and uniform including safety footwear.

    The program includes mentoring and on the job training with some of WA's leading defence industry employers, as well as on-campus training at TAFE for a nationally recognised qualification.

    Jobs and Skills WA: Defence Industry Pathways Program

    Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme

    The Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme (DIVES) scholarship program is part of the WA State Government's investment to boost defence industry capabilities and ensure a pipeline of skilled professional, paraprofessional and specialist trades workers.

    DIVES provides scholarships of up to $5,000 each to cover the cost of training for eligible veterans — ex-serving ADF members, ADF members in active or inactive reserve forces, or current ADF serving members about to transition/separate within three to six months — for defence industry occupations with current demand.

    Visit our ADF Veterans page for further information

    TAFE college scholarships

    WA's TAFE colleges offer a range of scholarships to assist with the cost of training, and offer opportunities for career changers to upskill or reskill.

    Please visit the TAFE websites and search for 'scholarship' to see what's currently available. You can also call your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64 to ask about other scholarships that may be available in your area.
     

    Career stories

    Everyone has their own story about their career journey into the defence industry — how they decided what they wanted to do, and what training they completed to get there. Select Hadiqa, Ethan or Hayley below to read more about the pathway they've taken through training , to get where they are now. 

    Young, or just starting out?

    Getting your first job is a big deal, and making the right choices can set you up with a career for life. While some jobs in the defence industry require some experience, there's plenty of opportunities for you too! 

    If you're still at school, you can start your career journey with a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship in Years 11 and 12 and be job ready when you finish your studies. You could also complete a pre-apprenticeship or traineeship, to give you a head start on getting an apprenticeship or traineeship. 

    Start something with WA's defence industry.

    The pathway for Yoshiki (pictured) was from highschool into a pre-apprenticeship, followed by some work experience, and now he's in the second year of his apprenticeship.  He says:

    "There are so many unique things that are made for the defence industry. It's not every day you see how submarines are made. You can say you had a part in making something big, and that makes you feel proud of yourself."
     

    We encourage you to browse through our Life experience:  Young starting out page, to find out how the skills and life experience you already have can help to get your career journey started.

    Looking for career or training advice? We can help!

    A dedicated defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre, with specialist experience. They can help you decide on the best options for training, job seeking and career planning to start something with WA's defence industry, and even assist with applying for jobs.

    There's also other JSCs located across Perth and regional WA who offer general advice and support about training, careers and jobs. 

    All JSC services are completely free of charge.

    Contact the specialist defence industry team at the Rockingham JSC, or drop in for a chat.

    P: 08 9599 8655
    E: defence.careers@smtafe.wa.edu.au

    South Metropolitan TAFE Rockingham campus
    Simpson Avenue Rockingham (Building G)

    To contact the other Jobs and Skills Centres across WA, follow the link below to find your local centre or call the number below to reach your nearest JSC.