Your Pathway to a Career in Oil and Gas: Calum’s story

This article is sponsored by TAFE International WA

In Australia, there are a number of different educational pathways on offer for international students. One of these pathways is undertaking a TAFE course through a TAFE institution. TAFE – which stands for Technical and Further Education – offers a wide range of practical and career-focused courses, more affordable qualifications than universities, and shorter course lengths, meaning you can enter the workforce sooner. For Calum, a TAFE course in Australia meant a direct pathway to his new industry of choice – oil and gas.

If you’re eager to enter the Australian workforce, then studying a TAFE course is the perfect choice for you. We spoke to Calum about his TAFE journey in Perth with TAFE International Western Australia, and how one short course allowed him to enter the dynamic and diverse oil and gas industry in Australia.

Changing career pathways in Australia

Originally from England, Calum moved to Australia with his long-term partner after they both decided that they would like to make a change and live somewhere new. It didn’t take long for them to establish a happy life together in Perth’s city centre.

“Perth has been amazing. We live in the city centre and we have a dog. We’ve made really good friends and we go on lovely hikes every weekend and we go to the beach.”

In England, Calum graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with Honours and then worked as an environmental/ecological consultant in the UK. Once Calum moved to Australia, he realised he was more interested in working in the oil and gas industry than in the environmental one.

“I didn’t really feel that working in the environmental sector was for me, so I decided I wanted to make a move to engineering. I got a job as a document controller at an oil and gas company and that spurred me on to pursue a career in this field, specifically looking at all the engineering disciplines.”

While Calum was eager to establish himself in the industry, he wasn’t sure about undertaking another degree.

“I was looking at doing a masters or a chemical engineering undergraduate degree, but it was just too much money to justify” he says. “Then I found the advanced diploma course, which is tailored towards people that already work in the oil and gas industry.”

Studying Process Plant Technology with TAFE International Western Australia in Perth

Calum has recently completed, the six month PMA60116 Advanced Diploma of Process Plant Technology. He has enjoyed the more practical and hands-on approach of TAFE during his advanced diploma.

“The course is a lot more tailored towards industry skills. You’re learning the fundamentals of engineering and you’re applying them to an industry setting,” he says. “Having done a degree, I know that sometimes you don’t get that industry application to what you’re learning.”

“One benefit is that you’re not tied into a course for three to four years. You’re getting a taste of it. You can then pursue a career in the industry, or you could do further study. I think it’s a great benefit for people’s careers. A friend who I knew from Oxford was here last year, and she was studying a veterinary nurse qualification at TAFE. She got a job as a vet nurse straightaway, and she’s loving it.”

Compared to his university degree in England, Calum found that the TAFE course offered a more independent study experience.

“It’s a slightly different form of studying than it is in the UK. It’s less strict. The positives are that you have space and time to really learn your material and you’re not feeling under pressure all the time. The teaching staff are also really good.”

Future plans

Calum is currently attending job interviews in Perth and is hoping to work here for the near future. In the long term, Calum and his partner are open to staying in Australia as well as moving back to the UK.

“If everything goes to plan and I can follow a career in oil and gas as a production technician or another related role, and my partner can get a job within the renewable energy sector, then we will most likely stay in Perth.”

Advice for international students

Calum has four pieces of advice for future international students who are considering TAFE courses in Western Australia.

  1. “Do your research before you enrol. I’ve met a few people who are halfway through a course and would like to change courses, however is a bit harder to do so when you’re an international student.
  2. Look up where the campus is located. TAFE campuses are really spread out as there are many campus locations to choose from. Consider your public transport options to campus.
  3. Apply yourself to every opportunity you get. Perth is not quite like other cities where you just meet people; you need to put yourself out there.
  4. Persevere with work and employment. Sometimes, you won’t hear back from people and it takes quite a lot of perseverance. You might have to pester people to find out if you have been successful in an application or not.”

TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) is the registered training organisation (RTO) and Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) provider, for the delivery of training to international students, enrolled in TAFE courses in Western Australia. These nationally recognised courses are delivered by Western Australian TAFE colleges on TIWA’s behalf. TIWA retains responsibility for the quality of the training and assessment delivered by the TAFE colleges and for the issue of certification documentation to students. 

Visit the TAFE International Western Australia website for information on course offerings for international students.