CDR writing tips and guidance

How to write CDR for Australian immigration? How to get started?  This article will provide you with  full guidance on how to write your Career Episodes and CDR writing tips. We will then carry on with the series and also describe in detail how to white your Summary Statement.

MSA booklet

The first thing you need to do is to download the MSA booklet from Engineers Australia website. Once you do that and if you already know that the CDR path is the right path for you, you should read the relevant sections of the MSA booklet:

Page 5 provides information on Occupational Category.  CDR for Australian immigration should be based on the correct Occupational category. For example, if you wish to apply as a professional Engineer then “The required academic qualification is an Australian 4 year Bachelor degree in engineering at a University following 12 years of schooling or comparable education.” There is also an explanation of what is generally is expected from your work as a professional engineer.

Other important section of the MSA booklet to read before writing the CDR for Australian Immigration are pages 18-19. These pages provide general explanation about the Career Episodes content and word count for each section.

Make sure that you read the Summary Statement indicators description relevant to your Occupational Category as well. When you write the Career Episodes, you will need to bear these in mind and try to cover as many indicators as you possibly can. Those are given on pages 31-36 of the MSA booklet (For Professional Engineer). Indicators for other professions can also be found in the MSA booklet.


Another thing to consider before you get started with your Career Episodes writing is your ANZSCO code and its description. Majority of ANZSCO code descriptions are provided in the following link:

When writing your Career Episodes, you need to be in line with your ANZSCO code description. Not complying to it is a common CDR rejection cause.

If your ANZSCO code is not right for your profession, the following will be one of  the possible outcomes:

In some cases EA would make another ANZSCO code suggestion and be ready to assess you under a different ANZSCO code, but many times your CDR would fail. Sometimes, however,  EA would ask you to change some of your Career Episodes to match the chosen ANZSCO code and give you a specific timeframe for doing this. In some cases they would say that your application is passing under Engineering Technologist instead of a Professional Engineer.

Choosing the Career Episodes topics

Next,  you need to have a look back at your career so far and choose the right projects for your Career Episodes. The right projects would include a design exercise that you were actively involved in.

If you are a relatively junior engineer, you can (and should) include your final year University Engineering Project as one of your Career Episodes. Despite the fact, that in many cases your project was never actually implemented, the final year project would normally include all the essential parts that typically a “real life” project has and would be suitable for CDR for Australian Immigration.

Once you have chosen projects for all your three Career Episodes, you can start writing. Below are the four parts of the Career Episodes:

Introduction (approx. 150 words)

Background (200-500 words)

Personal Engineering Activity (600-1500 words)

Summary (50-150 words)

Altogether, Career Episodes should be within 1000 – 2500 words. (But we recommend – 1500 – 2500  words as within 1000 words it would be hard to describe  project properly.

Writing Your Career Episodes

Start writing your Career Episodes from Introduction. Introduction should normally be one paragraph and include the following information:  the dates and duration of the project,  the geographical location of the project, the name of the organisation and your position.

Please make sure that the information provided in the introduction matches the information you provide in the CV.

Background.  Important things that should be included in the Background:

  • the nature of the overall engineering project
  • main project objectives
  • the nature of your particular work area
  • a chart of the organisational structure highlighting your position, in relation to the career episode
  • your duties statement

Personal Engineering Activity:  This part is the most important part of the Career Episode. This part should describe your main activates on the project.

  • how you applied your engineering knowledge and skills
  • the tasks delegated to you and how you accomplished them;
  • any particular technical difficulties/problems you encountered and how you solved them – we recommend including details of 2 major problems
  • strategies devised by you including any original or creative design work
  • your work with other team members.

Design activities

It is very important to include the design activities in this part of the Career Episodes for vast majority of professions. This should be the main content and it is recommended that you dedicate 5-7 paragraphs to design and related calculations.

In this part, you should include drawings to illustrate the design that was undertaken by yourself, charts, graphs etc.  But If you made a design,  that was then sketched over 10 drawings, do not include all of them. Find the one or two that were most major and include those within your Career Episode.

Make sure that the Personal Engineering Activity part follows a defined logical and chronological order and only major designs are explained. We recommend explaining  your major work first, in chronological order and then to add things that were relevant to the entire project: conducting meetings, generating reports, implementing safety at work, working with the suppliers, achieving project cost reduction etc.

This is important to mention that a lot of CDRs fail on “providing insufficient details”. This means that a lot of design or work details were included in the CE but all these details together don’t explain why the design or a work were such; what was the concept and reasoning behind this.

Also, instead of providing details on many small tasks, it would be more beneficial concentrating on a big and complex piece of work / design and describe it properly.

As well, in this part of the CE, you should provide details on 1-2 major problems you experienced during the work on the project. The problem should be major, one that affected or could have affected the entire project or put it at risk. You should describe the problem and a solution you have found to resolve the problem.

Examples of Problematic situations for CDR for Australian immigration.

Below are a couple of problematic situations examples for the Personal Engineering Activity part of the Career Episode. The first example  is from Environmental Engineer CDR.

Example 1

“Major challenge that I faced in this project was the high cost of readily available commercial adsorbents. One of my core objectives was to make my solution not only environment friendly but also sustainable and economically viable. I approached this problem in a very structured and organized manner. I conducted a deep study of all the adsorbents available in the market. I graded all these adsorbents as per their percentage removal of dyes which is an indication of their dye removal capability. I used different chemical composition of wastewater in this study. This helped me to choose the most optimum adsorbent for the target chemical composition.

I carried out appropriate designs in the project. I concluded that rice husk is a  potential alternative for dye removal from textile wastewater as it was least costly and readily available. Although activated carbon showed the highest colour removal efficiency in least time but the cost associated with unit colour reduction was much higher. I went one step ahead and went on with the actual treatment of textile waste water with biosorbent in a customized treatment plant (which was designed on the lines parallel to conventional waste water management system). For this, wastewater samples were collected from textile industry located in Lahore and collected in sampling bottles and placed in icebox to preserve for colour analysis and treatment. The samples were analysed for pH and colour as per standard method. In order to treat the waste water samples, I designed the treatment system by combining four units; Equalization Tank, Bio-sorbent Mixer, Settling Tank and Disinfection”.

The example above presents a problem and a solution in two well structures paragraphs. The problem is significant enough to be represented in a Professional Engineer CDR for Australian immigration.

Example 2

The next example is from Civil Engineering Career Episode.

Another problem that I encountered was while designing the entrance part of the building. This was due to the length of the span between columns. The span of the beam was approximately nine meters and the height of the floor was fixed. This called for the structural configuration to meet flexural, shear, serviceability and torsion  requirements. I did a design on this beam to resist bending and shear forces. I checked for the short and long term deflection and i introducing the different rebar diameters and grades to increase the effective depth of the beams. This was for the distribution of the reinforcement, and the improvements were all done under the ACI code.

General content to be included in the Personal Engineering Activity

You will also need to include things that refer to the whole Career Episode after you described the work, design and problematic situations. These General things to be included are:

  • Standards you used in your work – including standards numbers where appropriate
  • Working as part of the team – meetings you had with your colleagues, stakeholders etc.
  • Reports and presentations – what reports you have written during the project
  • Reference to budget related decisions and reducing the project cost or choosing the suppliers (if relevant)
  • Contentious leaning and training – any official training provided by the company, or training outside of work, reference books articles (especially important for final year University project).

Ideally you’d have a paragraph describing each of these activities in your Career Episode. This is not a very big issue if not all three of your Career Episodes have all of the above points; but all of your Career Episodes together should cover the above responsibilities.


Summary should be between 50 and 150 words and needs to include your view of the overall project, how the project met its goals and requirements and how your personal role contributed to the project.

CDR writing tips – General rules for writing Career Episodes

When writing CDR for Australia immigration use only “I” language. What does this mean?

“I” language means that in the Career Episodes you describe your own work. If the work was done by a team, you need to separate your contribution from other people’s contribution and to describe the part that was done by yourself.

“I” language means that you use expressions such as “I did”, “I designed”, “I calculated”, “I developed a solution”,” I took part in the negotiations”, “I was responsible for ”  and so on.

Another typical mistake is providing too many insufficient technical details. We have already mentioned this earlier in this article: Do not overwhelm the Career Episodes with small technical details of your work, especially when it comes to site work and physical installations if you are applying as a Professional Engineer. (If you are applying as an Engineering Technologist, this would be more suitable).

Do not include all calculations – concentrate on more significant ones and include only 1-2 most significant ones in your Career Episode.

On the other hand, not providing details on design is another typical mistake. If you are applying as a Professional Engineer – major design exercise description is a must for majority of Engineering specialisations. Major exclusions are – Material and Environmental Engineers in some cases.

Spelling mistakes and professional language usage

When whiting you CDR for Australia immigration, you need to use professional language in your Career Episodes. Avoid spelling mistakes, use correct tenses and avoid using common language expressions such as “so”, “work mate”, “boss” etc. There are professional synonyms to these and such, make sure your Career Episodes are written using professional language. EA do make an independent judgement on your language based on your CDR, besides your IELTS exam.

Our CDR writing services

All the experience described above is gained during 12 years of service in CDR and other skills assessment fields. If you need to write your CDR, please contact us on

If you have draft CDR (or only Career Episodes) written and need the specialist to review it, we will do this for free.