Our defence industry workforce is recognised as one of the most highly educated, qualified and skilled of its type in the world... and now's a great time to kickstart your own career in this exciting industry! We need skilled workers to meet future requirements across the defence industry and prepare for major projects happening now, and up to and beyond the next 20 years.
Fantastic career opportunities are available, particularly in key trades areas such as structural steel and welding; metal fitter and machinists; industrial electricians; riggers and scaffolders; and electricians.
There's also a range of jobs for university graduates; in fields such as engineering (maritime, mechanical and electrical) and software development, as well as project managers and planners.
What the defence industry can offer you
Looking for free advice about training, jobs and careers in WA's defence industry?
A specialist defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre! They can help with information about training, support to help with your job search or career change, and advice about career options.
All services are free, and available to anyone in Western Australia.
|Follow the links below, to find out more about WA's defence industry and the great opportunities that it offers — and about the options for training if you need to skill up.|
- Fast facts: WA's defence industry
- Future plan and projects for WA
- Useful links and information
- Defence industry career resources for schools
Jobs and careers in the defence industry
Do you need to skill up?
- Training and education: Options and pathways
- Want to study in a defence industry area?
- Getting an apprenticeship or traineeship
- WA TAFE colleges
- WA universities
- New skill sets to upskill qualified tradespeople and technicians
- Scholarships and special programs
- Browse our list of defence industry courses
- Looking for advice on training, jobs or careers? We can help!
New initiatives and programs for 2022/23—2025/26
Building on the previous $18 million investment by the WA State Government to boost defence industry capabilities and trades workforce; a further $11M investment was announced on 12 May 2022 as part of the WA State Budget 2022—23.
The new $11 million package will help to ensure a pipeline of skilled professional and paraprofessional workers, and create new opportunities for training and employment in this priority sector. The new initiatives are as follows. Further details will be provided here as they become available.
- WA defence industry internship and graduate scholarship program
- Defence reskilling and upskilling – Priority micro-credentials, skill set and Industry 4.0 product grant program to upskill and reskill new entrants and existing workers
- Existing worker traineeship program supporting career progression for the defence industry’s existing workers
- A new program to articulate arrangements between vocational education and training (VET) and universities in defence industry related qualifications
- Continue, enhance and expand the free defence industry specific career and training advisory services at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre
- Veterans skills and transition initiative that complements the existing Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme (DIVES)
Support and incentives for defence industry employers
To support our WA defence industry businesses and employers, we have a range of incentives and support available for employing apprentices in key trades that are vital for current and future defence industry projects.
- The Defence Industry Existing Worker Incentive — Up to $6,375 per eligible apprentice
- The Jobs and Skills WA Employer Incentive — Up to $8,500 for eligible employers!
- Hire an experienced apprentice or trainee through our Out of Contract Register
Western Australian Defence Industry Workforce Office
The WADIWO leads the development of the WA Defence Industry Workforce Development Plans; working closely with Defence West and education and training providers, with input from the WA defence industry and leading employers. These plans focus on priority projects across all five of the defence capability domains: air, land, space, information and cybersecurity.
Over the next decade and beyond, WA's defence industry will need more workers with a range of skills. By working collaboratively with industry, universities and vocational training providers, WADIWO will help to ensure WA has the skilled workforce we need.
Fast facts: WA's defence industry
- WA's defence industry is made up of over 11,000 men and women — employed by over 180 businesses and contractors — who aren’t in the defence forces (the Army, Navy or Air Force) but use their expertise, experience and trade skills to supply and support them.
- Our defence industry is the other workforce — the workers supporting the defence force! It's the people with trade and technical skills who build and maintain Australia's fleets of ships, aircraft, submarines and armoured vehicles. It's also the thousands of men and women in professional roles with skills in areas such as science, technology, engineering and communications who look after infrastructure and facilities and contribute to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber security and other electronic and information based capabilities.
- In WA the defence industry is exciting and growing — it's already estimated to contribute $3 billion a year to our state economy, and this is set to double within the next decade.
- WA plays an important role in national security, with 11 significant defence facilities including the RAAF base at Pearce and the largest naval base — HMAS Stirling — located at Garden Island, and almost 6,000 defence personnel based in the State. Strategic infrastructure and bases for the Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Army are also located here. This means WA businesses are able to take advantage of local opportunities and be part of the supply chain supporting our defence forces, which translates to long term job opportunities.
- WA is home to the Australian Marine Complex (AMC), the largest shipbuilding industry in Australia. The AMC carries out major works and repair programs for the Navy's Collins Class submarines, ANZAC frigates and supply tankers as well as ship conversions, refits and repairs to large ocean vessels and aircraft.
Future plans and projects
- In September 2020, the State Government committed to an $18 million investment to build a pipeline of skilled workers that will enable WA to attract national defence maritime projects. This investment will help provide the skilled workers needed to support upcoming projects and secure future defence work valued up to $75 billion nationally over the next ten years.
- Future projects confirmed for WA's maritime defence industry include the construction of a number of new naval vessels from 2024—25, generating a large number of direct and indirect local jobs.
- The Australian Government is making a $270 billion investment in Australia's defence capability, to support industry and grow our workforce of skilled workers.
- In 2021, the State Government will commence development on a plan to support the expansion of defence exercises in North West WA, which will create more defence industry job opportunities in regional WA.
- The State Government has delivered a proposal to the Australian Government for WA to be the principal location for Collins Class submarine Full Cycle Docking (FCD) maintenance work. Estimated to be worth $8.4 billion to our economy, this work would create up to 3,000 jobs and new apprenticeships and traineeships, and generate billions of dollars for WA.
- The State Government recently announced an $87.6 million upgrade to the facilities at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson. This is expected to create up to 600 local jobs, boost opportunities for local industry and grow WA’s capacity to undertake future defence projects.
Useful links and information
If you'd like to learn more, please explore the following.
The State Government's Building Western Australia's Defence Industry Australian Marine Complex Infrastructure Strategy was released in November 2020. It outlines the State Government's vision to double the value of WA's defence industry to $6 billion a year by 2030 – providing a pipeline of work and supporting thousands of local jobs.
Released in October 2018, the WA Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan provides an overview of the defence industry in WA. It includes six key strategies to continue to grow the industry and create jobs, and outlines future plans for further development.
- WA's Defence Science Centre creates connections across universities and the defence industry to develop WA’s science and research capabilities.
- The Australian Government released some key papers in 2020. Although related to defence forces, these will all create opportunities for the defence industry that supports the forces.
- The Defence Transformation Strategy 2020 provides a vision and framework for long term, enterprise-wide transformation.
- The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan outline a new strategy for defence and the capability investments to deliver it.
Defence industry career information for schools
If you're looking for resources to use with students, or for career planning, take a look at the following.
Defence West is a specialist WA Government branch set up to grow the industry, expand infrastructure and create jobs across five operational areas; Information and Cyber, Maritime, Air, Space, and Land. They have recently published their Mission Update 2020, which details achievements to date and the mission for the next two years. There's also a number of useful industry videos on their website.
We also recommend following Defence West on Facebook (@defencewest) — they post a lot of useful and interesting industry and careers information.
How do I get a job in the defence industry?
Good question! First, let's think about some key points.
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?
A good place to start is our occupational profiles, but you can also take a look through the following useful websites.
- Videos of career profiles within the defence industry are available on the defenceindustry.gov.au website
- The myskills website features information about a range of occupations in the defence industry.
- The Naval Shipbuilding College website has information about careers in shipbuilding
- The WA Defence Industry Workforce Office (WADIWO)
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 180 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 super size your study but only pay as little as $400 for the year if you are under 25 or looking for work!
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.
Some jobs in the defence industry require specialist skills and knowledge, and a trades qualifiication — these jobs are offered through an apprenticeship or traineeship.
- We have compiled a list of all the defence industry related courses here, including apprenticeships and traineeships, for you to browse through
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.
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.
- The Jobs and Skills WA jobs board
- The Naval Shipbuilding College advertises employment opportunities in a range of occupations
- Browse employment opportunities on the defenceindustryjobs.com.au website
- SEEK job search website
- indeed.com job search website
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 here, for a helpful list.
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.
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 — so when considering career options, it's helpful to know about different occupations and the kind of work they involve. Some of the key occupations in the industry currently include fitter machinists, CNC programmers/operators, composites shipbuilders, mechanical fitters/pipe fitters, refrigeration and airconditioning technicians, boilermakers and welders, mechanical engineers, marine fabricators, industrial and electrotechnology electricians, 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 over 550 occupation profiles you can browse through. To look for an occupation, use the keyword search option below, or visit our Occupation profiles page for other search options including an A—Z list.
The impact of COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation that will impact our ability to report accurate course information and employment trends at this time. Some employment trends and course availability information provided in occupation profiles may not be current.
Take a look at these videos to hear from Matilda and Harrison, who are just starting their career in the defence industry.
Matilda Hobbins is doing a four-year apprenticeship in fabrication and welding at Austal, a shipbuilding company based in Henderson. She's one of the few women in her apprenticeship, she loves her job and is excited about the opportunities ahead.
Mark started his big career move by doing a Diploma of Project Management, which led him to a role at a shipbuilding company where he now manages the offshore patrol vessel contract for the Australian Navy; leading the production team.
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!
We also encourage you to look at our scholarship opportunities available for women, and returned veterans, to get into training.
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 a full apprenticeship or traineeship.
Yoshiki's pathway was from highschool into a pre-apprenticeship, followed by some work experience, and now he's in the second year of his apprenticeship.
"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."
Changing careers or industries?
Whether you're making a career move voluntarily or have recently lost your job, or you're keen to move into a different industry, you will have skills and experience that will be valued in the defence industry.
Are you starting new, moving up, or looking for something completely different to what you've been doing before What opportunities suit your goals, and what are your transferrable skills?
The first step is to identify the kind of work you'd like to do, then set a plan for how to get there.
Chloe's pathway started in veterinary nursing, then four years at Bunnings, before starting her cabinetmaking apprenticeship two years ago.
"I build and install all the furniture, including bunk beds, cabinets, hardware, and the fixings and brackets.
I love working on these local projects and there’s a sense of pride when we finish a big project. "
Age doesn't have to be a barrier to employment or career opportunities — in fact, many employers will value your maturity and experience.
Some companies actively recruit for mature aged apprenticeships and traineeships, which can be a great option if you don't have the specific skills and knowledge required for a particular job.
And did you know, employers may be eligible for financial incentives for employing a mature aged person or an adult apprentice?
The pathway for Nicholaas came after 10 years in the Army, followed by a stint in mining, then a new start when he took up a boilermaker apprenticeship at 34 years of age.
"It's been a learning curve, but I'm thoroughly enjoying learning again. The major benefit of working in the defence industry is being able to work locally, and go home every day to see my family.
I'm so happy to be able to use my hands and head, and I am doing a job that I enjoy."
Returning to work?
Maybe you've been unemployed for a while, or you've been raising a family... whatever your story, there's a place for you in the defence industry. Sure, things have changed since you were last working — but you will have skills, experience and knowledge that are not only relevant but also transferrable, and these will be valued by defence industry employers.
These are just some examples of the fantastic career opportunities that WA's Defence Industry has to offer. To find out more about these stories, pathways into the defence industry, and what steps can get you there, take a look at these stories.
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.
If you're considering a job in the defence industry, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you with information and advice on options for work and training and help connect you with employers. They can even help you put together a deadly CV and apply for jobs, and all services are free!
Call your local JSC on 13 64 64, or find out more here. There's also a specialist defence industry team available at the Rockingham JSC — you can contact them on 08 9599 8655 or send them an email at email@example.com.
Opportunities for women
Women in Defence Industry Program scholarships
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.
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!
Applications are now open for 2022! For full details please visit South Metropolitan TAFE's website via the link below, or download the information flyer.
Kate’s career change to a trade in the Defence industry
From workbooks to work boots!
Kate was successful in obtaining one of the Women in Defence Industry scholarships and has been studying Certificate II Electronic and Certificate III in Engineering – Technical since February this year. She was previously a bookkeeper for nine years and this scholarship has given her the confidence to change her career and take a leap and study in a new area.
Take a look at this short video, where Kate talks about her decision to make a big change and what she's loved about doing the Women in Defence Industry scholarship program and what she's been able to achieve.
Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme
The Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme (DIVES) Scholarship Program encourages veterans to take up a career in the defence industry.
Funded by the WA State Government and supported by industry, DIVES will provide at least 80 scholarships of up to $5,000 to eligible veterans.
The scholarship program helps veterans cover eligible costs relating to vocational education and training (VET) and university studies relevant to defence industry careers, including tuition and other compulsory fees; textbooks; and equipment. Eligible veterans will also be able to access career planning support through the DIVES program, to identify training or further study leading to defence career pathways.
Applications are now open for 2022!
To apply for the DIVES scholarship, please go to southmetrotafe.wa.edu.au/defence-industry-veterans-employment-scheme and fill out the application form.
For more information, please contact the dedicated Defence Industry Team located at South Metropolitan TAFE’s Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre on 08 9599 8655; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you need to skill up?
Training and education: Options and pathways
When it comes to getting a job in the defence industry, having skills and knowledge can really give you the edge over other jobseekers. There's a range of vocational education and training (VET) and university courses available that can set you up to be job ready with the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.
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.
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! And there's never been a better time to get into training, with course fees reduced by half price or more on a range of qualifications through Lower fees, local skills!
- Check out our list of qualifications for the defence industry — look for the 'half price' icon to see where course fees have been reduced
- There's also a range of skill sets that have been developed specifically for qualified tradespeople and technicians in the defence industry — short courses for upskilling!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Team WA approach is unique in Australia, with our universities working together to share skills, experience and resources to achieve shared outcomes for excellence in defence education and research.
New skill sets for defence industry upskilling
- a qualified tradesperson or technician with experience in fabrication, engineering or manufacturing who would like to get up to code for working in the defence industry?
- already working in the defence industry, and would like to skill up for a new project or upgrade your certifications?
- a qualified fabricator or engineering tradesperson within the defence industry who's keen to progress to a supervisory role?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, take a look at these new skill sets for the defence industry! They have been developed in consultation with businesses and employers to deliver fast track training to upskill — specifically for existing tradespeople — whether you need to upgrade to meet defence industry code specifications, or upskill to work on a new project, develop your skills and knowledge to move into a supervising role, or learn new technologies or processes for different types of operations — a skill set is the way to go.
Because all of these skill sets are made up of units of competency from nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) qualifications, you will receive credit for them if you choose to go on to further study. And best of all... to support our defence industry workforce here in WA, the course fees for these skill sets have been reduced by half (and capped) — so take a look and see if there's something here for you!
The CNC Operations skill set is for qualified/experienced tradespersons employed in engineering production or manufacturing. It has been developed specifically to suit the role of an engineering supervisor in the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
This skill set will provide certified engineering and manufacturing tradespersons with specialist skills in the operation, programming and set up of CNC machinery. You will gain the practical skills and knowledge to analyse and inspect components, edit CNC programs, and apply workplace health and safety.
The Coded Welding Flux Cored Arc skill set covers preparing and producing welds to code standards using flux cored arc welding. It has been developed specifically to suit the role of a welding supervisor in the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
It will provide existing workers with the skills to be able to weld to the requirements of AS1796 and obtain Certification no. 8F from Weld Australia. You will also gain knowledge and skills on health and safety with welding, setting and maintaining welding parameters, fillet welds, and butt welds on plate at various positions. Preparing and setting up of pipe components and pipe welds within this course are performed by using weld rotators.
The Coded Welding Gas Tungsten Arc skill set covers preparing and producing welds to code standards using gas tungsten arc welding. It has been developed specifically to suit the role of a welder in the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
It will provide existing workers with the skills to be able to weld to the requirements of AS1796 and obtain Certificate no. 7 from Weld Australia. You will also gain knowledge and skills on health and safety with welding, setting and maintaining welding parameters, as well as welding in the 2G and 5G weld positions.
The Coded Welding Manual Metal Arc Welding (Pipe) skill set will provide existing workers with the skills to weld to the requirements of AS1796 and obtain Certification no. 4 from Weld Australia. It has been developed specifically to suit the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
This skill set defines the skills and knowledge required for an existing engineering tradesperson who chooses to study at a higher level within metal, engineering, manufacturing and associated occupations in the defence industry. You will also gain knowledge and skills on health and safety with welding, setting and maintaining welding parameters, as well as welding in the 2G and 5G weld positions
The Fluid Power skill set defines the skills and knowledge required for employment as a Higher Engineering Tradesperson or a Special Class Engineering Tradesperson (Mechanical) within metals, engineering, manufacturing and associated occupations, or at equivalent levels in other industries where engineering tradespersons work. It has been developed specifically to suit the role of a welding supervisor in the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
This skill set will provide existing workers with specialist skills in hydraulic systems, suitable for careers as a hydraulic fitter/technician or hydraulic systems designer. You will gain the practical skills and knowledge to analyse, inspect and maintain hydraulic and pneumatic systems; maintain fluid power controls; monitor/inspect equipment condition; tube bending and fitting; understanding logic systems; and workplace health and safety.
The Welding Supervisor skill set is for existing engineering tradespersons who wish to progress to the supervision of welding processes and outcomes. It has been developed specifically to suit the role of a welding supervisor in the defence industry; for example those working on projects such as ship or aircraft building or the maintenance of military vehicles.
This skill set will provide you with the skills to be able to write complex reports, inspect and interpret code requirements and diagnose faults. You’ll also learn how to prepare and formalise welding processes and procedures, monitor weld production, inspect welds and align weld testing as per code requirements, document and record information, and write detailed reports.
Reduced (half price) course fees under the Lower fees, local skills program are available to residents of Western Australia. Please note that other fees may apply; for example resource or equipment fees.
An annual fees cap applies for course fees on the Lower fees, local skills qualifications and/or skill sets. This means that regardless of how much your course fees actually are, you will not pay more than a set total amount for course fees per qualification or course per year.
- The course fees cap is set at $400 for eligible concession students, and $1,200 for non-concession students
- Please visit our Skills Ready page for the list of eligibility criteria for concession students
Defence Industry Pathways Program
This exciting new program, developed in partnership with WA's maritime defence industry and South Metropolitan TAFE , is designed as a taster course covering a range of areas — including cyber security, logistics, engineering, and technical — to set up your pathway to an exciting defence industry career.
The Defence Industry Pathways Program offers a fully funded, 12-month paid traineeship — course fees are fully subsidised, no cost to students!
The program includes supervision, mentoring and on the job training with some of WA's leading defence industry employers, as well as on-campus training with South Metropolitan TAFE for a nationally recognised qualification at Certificate III level.
And it's a paid traineeship. .. that's right — earn while you learn! This includes paid annual leave, personal leave and superannuation paid during the period of the traineeship. And to help you succeed, the Commonwealth Government is contributing almost $45,000 per trainee to fund wages and your uniform including safety footwear.
Defence industry courses
The courses listed below are all related to jobs in the defence industry.
- Select one or more of the icons below, if you would like to search for free or half price courses.
- If you're looking for something specific, enter one or more keywords such as "welding" or ''submarine"
- Use the options if you would like to narrow your search by level of qualification, training provider, industry or study area
- To find out more about a course, select its title and then select a TAFE college or training provider from the list presented
- All enquiries about course information should be made directly to the TAFE college or training provider
Support for defence industry employers
The Defence Industry Incentive
The Jobs and Skills WA Defence Industry Incentive was a cornerstone initiative of the $18 million package provided by the WA Government in 2020 to build the defence industry in Western Australia. The incentive provided financial assistance of up to $20,000 per eligible apprentice for WA businesses employing apprentices in four key trades within the defence industry.
This incentive has reached its cap with 68 employers assessed as eligible for the incentive since the commencement of the programm on 1 October 2020, successfully creating a pipeline of skilled workers for the industry.
This represents more than a 200% increase on the annual average take-up of apprentices in the defence industry.
Jobs and Skills WA Employer Incentive
If you hire a new trainee or an apprentice, you could also be eligible for the Jobs and Skills WA Employer Incentive of up to $8,500! You may also be eligible to receive additional loading payments of up to an additional 50 per cent for target groups including people aged 21—30 years of age, Aboriginal people, and apprentices and trainees in regional areas of WA.
This incentive is available in addition to other financial incentives and support.
Out of Contract Register: Hire an experienced apprentice or trainee
The Department of Training and Workforce Development manages an Out of Contract Register (OOCR), which provides employers with access to information about apprentices and trainees who have ben displaced at various stages of their apprenticeship or traineeship. many of whom have progressed well into their training and have the skills and knowledge you need for your business.
Apprentices and trainees who are listed on the OOCR have commenced their apprenticeship or traineeship in a variety of different industry areas, and may be able to provide you with an employee who has already gained valuable skills that enable them to ‘hit the ground’ running in your organisation.
Other financial incentives and support to employ and train
In addition to financial incentives and support for employers who hire apprentices and trainees, there's a large number of other measures for which you may be eligible. These include incentives and support for employing and/or training people with disability, mature age people, Aboriginal and Indigenous people, and youth.
Apprenticeship Office Helpline
Need support, information or assistance with apprenticeships or traineeships, or accessing financial incentives and support? Call the Apprenticeship Office Helpline on 13 19 54. For callers outside of WA, please phone us on 08 6551 5499.
Looking for career or training advice? We can help!
Look behind Australia's Defence Force and you’ll find the other force — the defence industry!
Western Australia's defence industry is a trusted, stable and major employer that supplies and supports our defence forces.
People from all walks of life are enjoying exciting jobs with local businesses, with the kind of work you'll only do as part of the defence industry.
There's fantastic career opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, cyber security, engineering and software development to name just a few — there really is something for everyone in this exciting industry.
A dedicated defence industry team is available at the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre to undertake careers promotion across all schools, and with veterans, and provide advice to jobseekers and potential defence industry workers about options for training and career planning.
All services are free, and available to anyone in WA.