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Australian Defence Force

  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees

Jocelyn Williams

As an Electrical Engineering Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), my daily duties will vary depending on the role I am posted into.

What do your daily duties involve?

As an Electrical Engineer in the Air Force, my daily duties will vary depending on the role I am posted into. To broaden our organisational knowledge and professional expertise, all officers in the ADF get posted into new positions every 2-3 years. For an engineer, this means we get to experience in a variety of roles, ranging from maintenance management, project engineering, regulatory oversight and more.

My first posting was to a C-130 Hercules squadron, where my daily duties included management of a technical workforce, assuring compliance with technical regulations and aviation risk management. My latest position, working as a project engineer for the acquisition of the P-8A Poseidon, involved drafting compliance findings for airworthiness certification and developing engineering and maintenance support systems to sustain the new aircraft.

Personal background

I grew up south of Perth and studied my Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Western Australia. During my second year at UWA, I was looking for a part-time job and was considering joining the Army Reserves. While browsing the Defence Jobs website, I discovered the Defence University Sponsorship (DUS) program, which would pay for the remainder of my degree, pay me a salary, and secure my employment for four years following graduation. I decided to join the Air Force, and am still here 11 years later.

Could someone with a different background perform your role?

All engineers in the ADF have similar responsibilities and career opportunities. There are 13 different engineering jobs across the Navy, Army and Air Force, all which require an accredited Bachelor of Engineering degree. Outside of engineering, there are many other rewarding careers that require a technical skillset, with education requirements ranging from year 10 to a university degree. In general, the ADF offers more than 200 different career opportunities across the Navy, Army and Air Force.

What’s the coolest thing about your job? 

The opportunities that become available during each posting cycle are the best thing about my job.  I have been lucky enough to go on a deployment and overseas exercises to the Middle East and Asian regions and have travelled to every state and territory of Australia. My next posting will be three years in Virginia, USA, working with a variety of nations on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

What are the limitations of the job?

There are Conditions of Service that you must agree to prior to joining the ADF. This includes relocating for various postings and the potential for operational service. Moving to a new location can be stressful, however, the ADF provides a lot of support when you need to relocate.

3 pieces of advice they would give to students.

  1. Get realistic expectations – A lot of engineering students will graduate with unrealistic expectations about what an engineering career involves. Talk to current engineers about what they do and the organisation they work in.
  2. Think long term – don’t limit your career opportunities by only thinking in 1-2 year blocks. Have a 5-year plan or even a 10-year plan. Organisations like to see some commitment from you before they invest their time and money in developing you. Just 4 years of engineering in the ADF would give you experience across two posting positions and leadership skills that employers find extremely valuable. So, if you did decide to leave the ADF after 4 years, you would be leaving with a great resume.
  3. Work on your soft skills – you will often require more than a particular trade skill or education to succeed in the workplace. Work on continuously developing other skills, such as communication, confidence and self-awareness.