Preparing Your CDR Application

Last week we wrote about the different types of skills assessment applications with Engineers Australia,  how to know if your application takes the CDR pathway or not, and introduced the Skilled – Recognised Graduate Visa (subclass 476), a temporary visa allowing engineers with qualifications from recognised institutions to apply for a 18 month visa. 

CDR applications can feel intimidating, but the only way to get started is to get started, and we think this article is a great place to start!

A Competency Demonstration Report (CDR) application a number of documents such as passport photo’s, proof of any academic achievements, your general CV any work reference letters, etc.

The 3 Career Episode Reports, list of Continuing Professional Development and Summary statement require a fair bit of effort to prepare. You will need to put aside time to write these as they must be your own personal experience of how you have used your engineering skills.


Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

This is a one page list of all the activities you have engaged in post graduation that shows that you have been actively involved in the industry and are keeping up to date with developments. Engineers Australia lists the following examples, but do not view this list as exhaustive:

  • formal post-graduate study
  • conferences at which you have delivered papers or attended
  • short courses, workshops, seminars, discussion groups, technical inspections and technical meetings you have attended
  • preparation and presentation of material for courses, conferences, seminars and symposia
  • services to the engineering profession (volunteer work, board or committee volunteering, mentoring, etc.)
  • private study (includes books, journals, manuals, etc.)

Each activity should be properly titled and marked with dates, durations and venues. This list should not run beyond a single page.


For example: 

CDR Application: Continuing Professional Development

By Jesse Jesserson

Study: Masters in Material Science and Engineering
Date: 2013 – 2015
Venue: University of Chellawah
Seminar: “Manufacturing and applications of nanocomposities”
Date: 28 January 2016

Venue: UNSW


Career Episode Reports (CERs)

As part of your CDR you will need to produce three Career Episode Reports (CERs). CERs are to be a documentation of your education/professional experience. CERs must:

  • Be personal
  • Be unique
  • Cover all units of competency under your nominated ANZSCO occupation


Be Personal

As this is an assessment of your skill level, these CERs must express your knowledge and role and contribution, and cannot simply be observations. You cannot write about what your company, team or classroom has achieved, but present how and what you accomplished. As such your CER will take on more of a narrative format; knowledge dumping will not be appreciated by the assessor. Don’t regurgitate your textbook!


Be Unique

Each CER must be from a different period or different aspect of learning, activity or project. CERs may be based upon:

  • an engineering task undertaken as part of your educational program
  • a project you have worked on or are currently working on
  • a specific position that you occupied or currently occupy (in this case, the career episode must comprise more than a mere duty statement)
  • a particular engineering problem that you were required to solve


Units of Competency

Engineers Australia categorises ANZSCO occupations (what’s on your occupation lists) into four groups – professional engineer, engineering technologist, engineering associate and engineering managers and administrators. It is important to identify which group your nominated occupation belongs to as it affects the Units of Competencies that you are required to satisfy in your CER. To find out, scroll to very last page in the Engineers Australia’s Migration Assessment Booklet.

A full list and description of what the units of competencies are for each occupation group can be found in the appendix (pages 32 to 48) of the booklet.

You will notice that the summary statement (pages 22 to 25), also part of your CDR application (which we cover further down this article), also lists all the units of competencies under your occupation group, and asks for you to indicate where in your CER each unit of competency was represented. Yes. All units of competency for your category must be addressed over your three CERs. It would be the smarter idea to work with the summary statement beside you, noting down the paragraphs in your CERs where you have demonstrated a certain unit of competency as you go. It would make completing your summary statement far easier and will also ensure that you will not miss out any units of competency.


The Format

Each CER should:
  • Read between 1000 to 2500 words
  • Have an introduction (~100 words)
  • Provide background information (~200 to 500 words)
  • Describe your knowledge and role in an engineering activity (~500 to 1000 words)
  • Finish with a summary (~50 to 100 words)
  • Each paragraph must be numbered in sequence (CER 1: 1.1, 1.2, CER2: 2.1, 2.2)
  • Not be in a table


For example:

CDR Application: Career Episode 1
By Jesse Jesserson

1.1        During my study of material science and engineering… (introduction paragraph)
1.2        We were engaged in a project that… (background paragraph)
1.3        … (background paragraph)
1.4        … (background paragraph)
1.5        I was tasked with… (present how you applied your knowledge to achieve an outcome)

… (continued)

1.18     This process resulted in… (conclusion)

CDR Application: Career Episode 2
By Jesse Jesserson

2.1        I was assigned team leader… (introduction paragraph)

              … (continued)

Look at writing your CERs like writing a very detailed resume. You need to show that you have the understanding and knowledge and also the skills to apply your knowledge – a descriptive version of “I had done extensive research on x and led a team in the design of to achieve z“.


Documentary evidence of employment (employment of over 12 months)

This is not compulsory. Needless to say, you will not be able to provide this if you have not been employed in an engineering capacity or if your employment falls under 12 months. You will only need to provide this if you have written about your employment in your CERs. The other reason you would have for including this would be if you wanted to claim work experience points for your general skilled migration (GSM) 189 visa application. However simply submitting employment evidence materials will not mean that you will be assessed on this aspect. You must pay for it. Find the fees here. If you have included work experience (for your CER or just because) and have not pay for the employment assessment, the document issued by Engineers Australia will not contain an employment assessment result.


Evidencing your employment

You will need to provide:

  • A reference letter* (with the official company letterhead), OR
  • A job offer letter, OR
  • An annual performance review


  • Documents from a related government agency, OR
  • Income tax, OR
  • Superfund contribution, OR
  • Provident fund statements/retirement contributions, OR
  • Work permits (with company name)

* There are requirements on the reference letter that if not met, will require an accompanied additional statutory declaration from your direct supervisor.Self employment can also be considered. For full details on what each document must contain, please read Section D of the booklet.


Summary Statement

We’ve encouraged you to have written your CERs in tandem with your summary statement. Now that you have completed your CERs, this should be a breeze. The summary statement is pretty self explanatory.

professional engineer

You can download editable editions of your occupation group’s summary statement here.

The rightmost column should hopefully have been filled in as you were writing your CERs. Just check through it all again. Each unit of competency can have been demonstrated multiple times in a single CER or across all three CERs; you will only submit one summary statement, and not one per CER.

The middle column asks for a summary, so don’t copy and plonk your entire paragraph in this space. Give a succinct summary, or where it might not have been clear, use this chance to show exactly how the competency element is reflected in what you have done. This would be like the resume version of your CER; your abilities, knowledge and/or achievements wrapped up in one or two sentences.

Here comes a little conundrum. How can your summary (middle column) reflect what you’ve filled your rightmost column with if you’ve have identified paragraphs from all over your CER, or even multiple CERs? We suggest:

Competency Element A brief summary of how you have applied the element Paragraph number in the career episode(s) where the element is addressed
PE1.1 Comprehensive theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and phsyical science and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline
a) summary a

b) summary b

c) summary c

a) 1.3, 1.5, 1.6

b) 1.8, 1.9, 1.11, 2.3, 2.5

c) 2.8, 2.10

We suggest your best chances of success is to use a professional migration agent to assist you in a CDR application. Remember it has to be your own knowledge and experience and an agent cannot write it for you, rather guide you through it and check what you have written covers all the right areas Engineers Australia requires.