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Power engineers are electrical engineers who specialise in areas where high voltages of electricity are generated, transmitted, or used.

Below is an overview of the different career paths available in the Australian electrical sector, with a focus on technical roles for engineers and similar disciplines. 


Some of the most common technical roles in this field include:

Electrical engineer: These professionals design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacture of electrical equipment, such as motors, generators, and lighting systems.


Power systems engineer: These engineers work on the design, analysis, and control of electrical power systems, including transmission and distribution networks.


Control systems engineer: These professionals design and develop control systems for a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, transportation, and energy management.


Telecommunications engineer: These engineers design, develop, and maintain telecommunications systems, including telephone networks, internet infrastructure, and satellite systems.


Electronic engineer: These professionals design and develop electronic systems and devices, such as computers, smartphones, and medical equipment.


If you are a high school student or first year university student interested in pursuing a career in the electrical sector, it is important to choose a university program that will give you a strong foundation in the principles of electrical engineering and related disciplines. This might include courses in subjects like electrical circuit theory, digital electronics, and control systems. It is also a good idea to get involved in hands-on projects and internships, as these will give you valuable practical experience and help you build a network of contacts in the industry.

Power Industry Sectors


Generating power: In Australia, power is generated for most customers at major coal-fired or hydro generating stations. There are also growing numbers of wind and solar generating installations.

Using power: Major users of power - such as city office buildings, factories, long-haul railways, and mining drag lines - need reliable, cost-effective supplies of power. Power engineers work with these major users to design, implement, monitor and protect their power supplies.

Power Electronics: Specialist fields for power engineers in power applications include power electronics. This field uses high-power electronic devices and computer controls to enable energy from DC (direct current) sources, such as fuel cells or solar cells, to supply energy to the main power grid. Power electronics are also used to generate variable frequency voltages that will change the speed of large motors, such as those that drive electric locomotives.

Transmitting and distributing power: Electrical power leaves power stations at very high voltages of about 500 kilovolts (kV). This is transmitted over networks of lines to cities and towns. Within cities and towns, substations reduce the voltage in stages - 132 kV, 33kV, then 11 or 22kV, and finally to the 240 volts for use in homes and business.

Major Projects: Major projects that power engineers are employed to design and construct include transmission lines, zone substations, communications and SCADA systems. It could also include a major refurbishment of existing plant. The work activities include design, construction and project management. Often, power engineers are engaged in several projects at one time, so good time-management and prioritising skills are necessary to deliver projects on time.

Operating power networks: Engineers in network operations have daily contact with asset management staff, and provide design staff with valuable feedback on network improvements.

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Planning and developing systems and networks: Power engineers are responsible for the system design of the network so that it has the capacity to deliver a high-quality supply of power to customers (as required by the National Electricity Code and Electricity Regulations). Here, power engineers are interested in supply quality parameters, such as voltage levels, and voltage fluctuations, reliability (i.e. duration and frequency of power failures).

Substation design and maintenance: Substations are installations where electrical current is reduced in stages from the high voltage levels (up to 500kV) needed for transmission, down to a lower voltage (132kV and below) for distribution around towns and cities. Power engineers are employed to:

  • design or maintain substations

  • investigate incidents (lightning strikes), and

  • develop the design and maintenance standards, and associated asset management strategies.

Test and commissioning power plants: Power engineers are responsible for ensuring that any electrical plant that is energised (switched on) is fit for the purpose, and safe. This involves testing the equipment before it is energised to ensure that it is fault free and operates correctly when required. In this field, power engineers work on all electrical equipment - from power transformers to sophisticated communications and protection equipment - and advise the design and asset management engineers of all field modifications carried out as a result of any testing and commissioning.

Design of power equipment: Power engineers can be engaged in the manufacture of transformers, generators or switchgear and oversight the process from design to testing. Other aspects where the power engineer has significant input, can be in the design of electricity meters or protection equipment.


The average income of an engineering graduate in Australia can vary depending on several factors, including the specific engineering discipline, level of experience, location, and industry sector.


Based on the Professionals Australia 2019 Professional Engineer Employment and Remuneration Report the recommended market rate for entry level graduates in Australia is $61,000. The recommended market rate represents the 25th Percentile Base Salary of respondents to the survey employed full time in a Level 1 role as defined by the Professional Employees Award 2010.

After about a year of experience, the typical salary could be expected to rise to around $65,000 - $68,000 per annum, excluding superannuation and any other forms of compensation. If these additional items were to be included, the typical package would rise to around $80,000 per annum. These amounts reflect median values in the most recent APESMA salary survey.

After about three or four years of experience, the typical salary could be expected to rise to around $85,000 - $90,000 per annum, again excluding superannuation and any other forms of compensation. If these additional items were to be included, the typical package would rise to around $105,000 - $110,000 per annum.

The following figures are those recommended by APESMA for student employment, and are based on the 2019 APESMA professional engineer remuneration survey:

Salary based on the level of studies completed*

Year of course completed

Completed 1st year

Completed 2nd year

Completed 3rd year

Completed 4th year

12 week industrial experience

% of current market rate for entry level graduate






Refer to the Level 1 Graduate Pay point 1.1 (4 or 5-year degree) at for the current minimum graduate rate as set by the Award.

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