The South Australian defence manufacturing industry employs 2,700 people, which is 0.3% of the state’s workforce.

It supports Australia’s armed forces by building technologically advanced machines and equipment for aircraft, watercraft, vehicles, navigation systems and computer control systems.

South Australia is the Defence State, with billions of dollars of advanced manufacturing projects underway. The diverse and growing defence industry is expected to provide significant employment opportunities for many years to come.

Current work includes the completion of three Air Warfare Destroyers in 2017 and 2018, and ongoing maintenance of the Collins Class Submarines well into the 2030s. Major projects in the pipeline include construction of twelve Offshore Patrol Vessels from 2018, nine Frigates from 2020, and twelve Short Fin Barracuda Submarines from 2023.

Seventy-two per cent of Australian defence companies are located in Adelaide with most jobs located in the northern metropolitan area.

Techport Australia at Osborne is the main site for naval shipbuilding in Australia and Technology Park at Mawson Lakes is a key location for defence electronics activity (systems integration, communications, software development, electronic warfare). The industry also has a large number of engineering and manufacturing companies throughout the northern metropolitan area that supply components and equipment to local, national and international companies.

Job openings for skilled workers

Aircraft maintenance engineer

Computer network professional

Electronics engineer

Software and applications programmer


Quick facts about this industry

  • Science and maths are important for training and work in this industry.
  • Most people work full-time.
  • Most people have a certificate III or higher qualification and over 40% hold a bachelor degree or higher qualification.
  • About 90% of workers are men, and women are encouraged to join.
  • People are generally younger than those in other industries.
  • Many defence projects have a national security classification that requires a security clearance — this can involve examining many aspects of your life, including your family and acquaintances, depending on the level of security clearance required.
  • As people in this industry are highly skilled and subject to security clearances, wages are very competitive.

School options

Ask your Vocational Education and Training (VET) Coordinator at school for information about doing vocational education during the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), including the Training Guarantee for SACE (or equivalent) students. Visit the VET section of the SACE website for training options in:

  • Electrotechnology
  • Engineering
  • Information technology
  • Manufacturing

Vocational qualifications include:


  • Certificate II in Electronics
  • Certificate III in Electronics and Communications
  • Certificates II – IV in Electrotechnology
  • Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control
  • Certificate IV in Industrial Electronics and Control
  • Certificate III in Custom Electronics Installations
  • Certificate IV in Electrical with specialisations in instrumentation and data and voice communications

Information and communication technology

  • Certificates II and III in Telecommunications Technology
  • Certificate IV in Computer Systems Technology
  • Certificate IV in Telecommunications Engineering Technology
  • Certificate IV in Programming
  • Diploma of Telecommunications Engineering
  • Diploma of Telecommunications Engineering
  • Advanced Diploma of Network Security
  • Advanced Diploma of Telecommunications Network Engineering

Metals and engineering

  • Certificate III in Engineering
  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Electrical Engineering
  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Electronics and Communications Engineering
  • Certificate II in Security Assembly and Set-up
  • Certificate III in Business Equipment
  • Certificates II – IV in Air-conditioning
  • Certificate II in Sustainable Energy
  • Certificate IV in Renewable Energy
  • Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction

See courses related to this industry.

University disciplines include:

  • Aviation
  • Computer and network systems engineering
  • Computer science
  • Electronics engineering
  • Information technology
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Networking and cybersecurity

Explore university courses offered in South Australia, including courses from:

For more information about university courses visit South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC) or for information about student satisfaction visit Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

Apply to study

For application information for South Australian universities and some TAFE SA courses, visit the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

Dual Offer courses enable you to apply through SATAC for a TAFE SA qualification and a connected university program in one application, and receive an offer for both. Dual Offers are available for selected courses at a number of TAFE SA regional and metropolitan campuses.

For subsidised training enrolment information, see Enrolling in subsidised training.

For more information, call the Infoline on 1800 673 097.

Occupations in this industry

Defence systems

Defence systems involve developing cutting-edge systems, equipment prototypes and products for aircraft, watercraft, navigation systems and computer control systems.

Mechanical engineers plan, design and oversee the development, installation, operation and maintenance of machinery.

Naval architects design and oversee the construction, survey and repair of watercraft and floating structures, including boats, submarines, tugs and oil rigs.

Fabrication and services

Fabrication and services involves specialists putting together the products, equipment and services that the Australian Defence Force requires.

Instrumentation tradespeople install, modify, maintain and repair instrumentation used in measurement and control systems.

Key occupations

Other occupations in this industry include:

Aircraft maintenance engineer, electrical engineer, electronic engineering draftsperson and technician, mechanical engineer, naval architect, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, electrician or instrumentation tradesperson.

Related industries for these occupations

Useful links


Career information has been sourced from government publications. See data sources for more information.

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