Areas of Practice

Learn about engineering disciplines and the NER.

Engineering Areas of Practice

There are 9 general areas of practice and 10 special areas of practice. For a guide to the areas of practice, click here.

General Areas of Practice

General areas of practice are open to those wishing to be registered on the NER with a minimum of 5 years of experience and to those seeking Chartered:


Aerospace engineering is multidisciplinary in nature. By definition it is ‘the practice of the art and science of engineering for the purpose of achieving optimal integrated aerospace systems including military and civil air and space vehicle system’.

Biomedical engineering is concerned with the research, design, development, evaluation, manufacture, installation, operation, maintenance and control of biomedical devices, facilities and equipment, designed to support and enhance human life and help individuals to overcome physical disabilities, the planning and assessment of medical procedures and the development of related data handling facilities.

Chemical engineering is concerned with research, teaching, design, development, economics, manufacture, installation, operation, sales, maintenance and management of commercial scale chemical plants and process systems, industrial processing and fabrication of produces undergoing chemical and/or physical changes being applied to materials for construction, process systems and equipment for instrumentation and control, and protection of the environment.

Civil engineering is concerned with materials such as steel, concrete, timber, earth and rock, and with their application in the research, design, development, manufacture, construction, operation, maintenance and management of hydraulic, structural, environmental and systems aspects of infrastructure works and services such as water, sewerage, transport, urban development and municipal services, and with building and construction for other infrastructure industries.

Electrical Engineering is concerned with research, design, development, manufacture, installation, operation, maintenance and management of equipment, plant and systems within the electrical, electronic, communication and computer systems areas, being applied to electrical power generation, transmission, distribution and utilisation, manufacture, instrumentation and control in industry, communications networks, electronic plant and equipment, integration and control of computer systems.

Environmental engineering is a very broad field in which there are new applications and adaptations of all the traditional disciplines of engineering. Many applicants seeking recognition as environmental engineers may have academic qualifications and professional experience in civil, mechanical or chemical engineering and not environmental engineering specifically.

Applicants will need to show that they have developed specialist skills within their practice area in environmental engineering, and that they have developed expertise in the general field of environmental engineering particularly, in the principles and applications of sustainable development. They will also need to describe the ongoing training that is specific to environmental engineering. It will not be sufficient to have maintained expertise within a traditional area of practice such as civil, mechanical or chemical engineering.

Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) is multi-disciplinary in nature. By definition, it is ‘the practice of the art and science of engineering for the purpose of achieving, inter alia, communication between individuals and societies for social and commercial interchange of information, the provision of equipment to facilitate daily living and the practice of commerce, business and industry, space exploration, resources exploration, etc.’

Mechanical Engineering is concerned with design, development, research, evaluation, manufacture, installation, testing, operation, maintenance and management of machines, mechanical and mechatronic systems automated systems and robotic devices, thermodynamic and combustion systems, fluid and thermal energy systems, materials and manufacturing equipment and process plant and materials handling systems. This is applied to manufacturing, land, sea and air transportation, electricity generation, mining, minerals and metals processing, food, agricultural and forest products processing, thermal and environmental control systems in buildings and industry, refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

Structural Engineering is concerned with research, planning, design, construction, inspection, monitoring, maintenance, rehabilitation and demolition of permanent and temporary structures and structural systems and their components and with associated technical, economic, environmental, aesthetic and social aspects. Structures might include buildings, bridges, in-ground structures, footings, frameworks and space frames, including those for motor vehicles, space vehicles, ships, aeroplanes and cranes, composed of any structural material including composites and novel materials.

Special Areas of Practice

Special areas of practice are open only to those who are Chartered. For details on any of the specific requirements to be met for the special areas of practice, contact the Registration Team via Member Services.

Registration on the NER as a Professional Engineer or an Engineering Technologist in the specific area of Amusement Rides and Devices In-service Inspection requires specific competencies to carry out inspections.

Building Services Engineering is multidisciplinary in nature. By definition, it is ‘the practice of the art and science of engineering for the purpose of achieving optimal integrated building systems incorporating environmental control and safety provisions for the comfort and wellbeing of the occupants of the built environment’.

Fire safety engineering is multidisciplinary in nature, having substantial relationships with building services, mechanical, electrical, electronics, chemical, structural and civil engineering and embraces an understanding of human behaviour. It is the application of engineering principles, rules and expert judgement based on a scientific appreciation of the fire phenomenon, of the effects of fire and of the reaction and behaviour of people

Heritage and conservation engineering is an area of practice which requires applications and adaptations of all the traditional disciplines of engineering, together with an understanding of the elementary scientific principles involved which might not be directly referenced in current practice procedures. Practitioners will need to be aware of all the phases involved in conservation and the role of other professions, such as historians, archaeologists and architects.

The Leadership & Management special area of practice is for professional engineers, engineering technologists and engineering associates who hold management and administrative positions, where the majority of their day-to-day activities do not always involve technical considerations. If management forms a substantial and separate function, engineering practitioners may seek registration on the NER in Leadership & Management. However, registration in Leadership & Management is not warranted where managerial functions are only incidental to practice in a discipline.

Registration in Leadership & Management is available to engineering practitioners who, in addition to satisfying the above requirements, can show that they are engaged in professional activities which call on their engineering qualifications and experience either directly or indirectly and which place demands on acquired management skills, knowledge and judgement comparable to those required for an engineering area of practice.

There are five multidisciplinary areas that fall under Leadership and Management:

  • Systems Engineering
  • Cost engineering
  • Risk engineering 
  • Asset management 
  • Project management

A Naval Architect is a professional engineer who is responsible for the safe design and specification of ships, boats, and marine structures, both civil and military, including merchant ships (cargo and passenger), warships, submarines & underwater vehicles, offshore structures (fixed & floating), high speed craft, workboats and pleasure craft. The Naval Architect can also be involved in, or manage, the construction, repair / refit or operation of such ships / marine structures.

Pipeline engineering is multidisciplinary in nature, drawing on a broad range of general disciplines (such as civil, structural, mechanical, environmental, chemical electrical and materials engineering) and applying them to the specific area of practice of engineering of pipelines. This area of practice relates only to petroleum and energy transmission and related fluid pipelines.

Petroleum Engineering is the engineering science focused on achieving optimal integrated exploration, technical assessment, production and development of oil, gas and geothermal resources and reserves upstream of processing plants, refineries and power stations. Petroleum Engineers may evaluate oil and gas wells and potential reservoirs, design and oversee drilling, completion, intervention and stimulation activities, select and implement improved reservoir recovery schemes, and design and optimise well production and surface collection and treatment facilities. Petroleum Engineers fall within four main sub-disciplines of Reservoir, Drilling, Production and Formation Evaluation Engineering.

Pressure equipment design verification is the process which assures the integrity of the equipment for the stated design and operating conditions. As a minimum, this must ensure compliance with the relevant equipment Standards as well as any additional requirements deemed necessary to ensure the equipment integrity. Design verification is not concerned with functionality but is concerned with the equipment safety.

The area of practice of Subdivisional Geotechnics applies specifically to work covered by AS 2870 Residential slabs and footings – construction and AS 3798 Guidelines on earthworks for commercial and residential development. This area of practice is for civil engineers whose practice includes geotechnical aspects of subdivisions and the foundations of buildings up to three storeys. The area of practice applies to practitioners with experience in the design, specification and construction of foundations, earthworks, earth retaining structures and pavements relevant to subdivisions and low rise buildings.


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