SCADA refers to centralised ‘supervisory control and data acquisition’ computer systems that monitor and control industrial, infrastructure or complexes of systems spread out over large areas. Centralised SCADA systems typically provide data to control rooms manned by systems operators. Working in the rail industry you will manage the SCADA system that monitors the rail electricity distribution network, as well as provide professional engineering and technical specialist services.
Other key accountabilities include managing, upgrading and maintaining the:
- SCADA master station system and associated hardware
- Field-based Remote Terminal Units (RTU)
- Interfaces with other communications systems
- Specialist SCADA software applications running on the IT LAN
- System operators’ telephony system
- Interfaces that captures all SCADA data
A SCADA system engineer is also involved in: developing incident response and recovery operations, providing technical support and high level advice or direction of network expansion, electrical network fault finding, and operator training
Knowledge, skills and attributes
SCADA engineers need analytical and problem- solving skills, the ability to work in a team environment and supervise others, and the ability to share knowledge and provide coaching and mentoring. Importantly, you need to be able to resolve problems quickly and without supervision to minimise disruption to SCADA services, and to liaise with a variety of clients including systems operators, internal customers, contractors and management.
SCADA systems engineers work in different settings, ranging from offices to electricity substations, adjacent to rail corridors in remote areas, and workshops.
Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development
There are no current engineering degrees with a sub-discipline in SCADA. To become a SCADA systems engineer, you need to have a bachelor degree in engineering, perhaps with a specialisation in electrical or electronics engineering, computer science or information technology. You will also need to have knowledge and experience of: computer networks and their configuration, communication systems technology, data management and data security, infrastructure security, firewalls and intrusion detection systems, programming and scripting languages – and specifically, experience in SCADA systems.
Engineers with qualifications from overseas universities must have their degrees assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ. Some SCADA engineers work their way up from an electronics apprenticeship, but this is becoming less common.
The value of a career in the rail industry
For even more details on what you might earn, the diversity of companies you could work for and the career opportunities available, visit the following careers and training websites. Careers in Rail by the Australasian Railway Association; About the Rail Industry by Rail Skills Australasia and Rail Training by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC).
For more information
There are many options open to you, and your career may take different turns depending where you are at in your life. Typically, an engineer will progress from a graduate or assistant engineer role, through to more senior positions with specialist skills in one of the following areas: project management, operations, asset construction and maintenance, design, and development of standards. Due to the complexities of rail, it takes time to become a specialist and it may be difficult to move laterally into other specialised areas.
The information provided here is generic. Job titles and the experience and qualifications needed to move into other jobs may vary depending on the structure and needs of your organisation and government rules and regulations.
The jobs below may require additional qualifications as well as experience.