Professional, scientific & technical services industry fact sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the professional, scientific and technical services industry, which includes scientists, accountants, advertising/marketing specialists, lawyers/solicitors, vets, management/other consultants, photographers, architects, engineers and computer system designers.

As well as the information in this factsheet, you should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.

See our topics on this page for detailed information on the professional, scientific and technical services industry:

Research

Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.

Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the professional, scientific and technical services industry include:

Scientists

  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science The Department provides a number of science and research reports and studies.
  • Office of the Chief Scientist The Office of the Chief Scientist releases an Occasional paper series on current scientific topics.
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) The CSIRO publications section contains a comprehensive range of scientific books, journals data and research publications.
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) AIMS provides research on tropical marine ecosystems including data on climate change, biodiversity and sustainability.
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) ANSTO provides data on a diverse range of scientific areas including materials, life sciences, climate change, mining and engineering.
  • Geoscience Australia Geoscience Australia provides a range of spatial information including maps, data and publications on topics such as energy, groundwater, marine and coastal areas, minerals and hazards.

Accountants

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) The Accounting Consulting and Legal services page on the ABS website contains data on the accounting profession.
  • Australian Taxation Office The ATO provides research and statistics relevant to accountants including research on tax practitioners, and taxation and superannuation statistics.

Lawyers/solicitors

Vets

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) See the service industries page on the ABS website for statistics on the veterinary services industry.

Photographers

  • Australia Council for the Arts The artfacts website provides detailed statistics on the visual arts industry including gallery attendance, household spending, royalties, profiles of visual artists and the global art market.

Architects & engineers

  • Geoscience Australia Geoscience Australia provides geospatial and hazard data with supporting statistics, maps and publications on topics such as risk and impact analysis.
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) ANSTO provides a range of nuclear science and technology information, including mining and engineering data.

Computer systems designers

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) The Innovation, Science and Technology topic on the ABS website contains data on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry.
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) See the ResearchACMA page on the ACMA website for reports on a range of topics including cloud computing, social media, consumer behaviour, harmful software, mobile apps and other emerging digital topics and trends.

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Key legislation & initiatives

Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry includes:

Professional service industry

Scientists

Accountants

Advertisers/Marketers

Lawyers/solicitors

Vets

Photographers

Architects

Engineers

Computer system designers

You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.

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Licences & permits

The professional, scientific and technical services industry covers a diverse range of professions with different licence and permit requirements. Search our Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find the licences and permits listed below:

Scientists

  • State permit to use animals for scientific purposes
  • State permit to undertake scientific research in parks or on wildlife

Accountants

Advertisers/marketers

  • State/territory advertisement signage placement licences

Lawyers/solicitors

  • State/territory lawyer practicing certificate
  • State/territory solicitor practicing certificate

Vets

  • State/territory veterinarian registration
  • State/territory registration of veterinary premises
  • State/territory licence to operate veterinary hospital

Photographers

  • State/territory photography permit
  • State/territory parks & wildlife photography permit

Architects

  • State/territory architect registration

Engineers

  • State/territory civil engineer registration
  • State/territory structural engineer registration
  • State/territory electrical engineer registration
  • State/territory fire safety engineer registration
  • State/territory mechanical engineer registration

Computer system designers

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.

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Employment

If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:

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Finance & tax

There are a number of finance and tax measures specific to businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry, including:

  • Personal services income (PSI) As a professional, the income you receive for your skills, knowledge, expertise or efforts may be classified as PSI. The PSI rules may affect what amounts you include in your assessable income, and what deductions you can claim.
  • Tax concessions Smaller professional, scientific and technical service operators may also be eligible for a number of tax concessions. See the Small business entity concessions page on the ATO website for further details. 

To find more finance and tax guidance, take a look at:

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Levies & charges

Levies and charges are generally used to fund activities that benefit the industry or region as a whole. The majority of the levies and charges paid by businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry are paid through licences and permits as well as state levies paid by all industries. Veterinary practices that sell/dispose of products registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) may need to pay an additional levy once sales reach a certain amount. See the APVMA Levies page to see if they apply to your business.

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Grants

Grants for the professional, scientific and technical services industry are available to support businesses that:

  • conduct activities that are innovative
  • conduct research and development activities
  • improve the environment
  • support technology projects
  • promote the arts industry.

For specific grants, try searching the following resources:

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Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)

As well as the general occupational health and safety regulations, there are also some state-specific WHS requirements relevant to the professional, scientific and technical services industry including:

Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:

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Insurance

As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there are also a number of specific insurance options available for professional, scientific and technical services industry. Additional insurance options vary depending on your business type but can include insurance for professional indemnity, public liability insurance, equipment & machinery, property & buildings, vehicles and business interruption.

Find out more about general insurance options for business.

Professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance protects advice-based businesses from legal action taken for losses incurred as a result of professional negligence. In certain professions indemnity insurance is a mandatory requirement before registration can be accepted, including:

  • Accountants and bookkeepers – It’s mandatory to obtain professional indemnity insurance before you can register as a Tax agent or BAS Agent. Contact the Tax Practitioners Board to find out more.
  • Architects - In most states it’s mandatory for architects to obtain professional indemnity insurance before they can operate. Contact your state/territory architects board to find out if this applies to your business.
  • Veterinarians - In some states it’s mandatory for vets to obtain professional indemnity insurance before they can operate. Contact your state/territory veterinary practitioner board to find out if this applies to your business.

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Intellectual Property (IP)

As well as trade marks, there are other IP rights that may be relevant to businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry:

  • Copyright – copyright protection is free and automatic in Australia and protects works such as engineering drawings, architectural plans, computer games, software, databases & computer code.
  • Designs – protects the overall feature, shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation of a product. See the IP for designers page for IP information for architects and designers.
  • Patents - protects inventions such as new equipment, new machinery, new systems or processes.  See the computer-related inventions, biological inventions and micro-organisms pages for more industry-specific patent information.
  • Confidentiality / trade secrets – can be used to stop employees from revealing secret knowledge during and after their employment.
  • Circuit layout rights - automatically protects original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips.

IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.

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Industry training

Industry training can be an important part of your business survival. Keeping pace with new scientific discoveries, emerging technologies, tax policies, animal health strategies, architectural practices and engineering standards are often a must for the survival of each specific profession and in some cases is a requirement of professional registration.

From the 1 July 2014, all ACT building and construction workers including architects and engineers who will be working with asbestos are required to complete asbestos awareness training. For a full list of occupations and your employer obligations, access Worksafe ACT’s Guidance Note on Asbestos Training.

Need some help getting started on your training?

  • Get tips on training yourself and your staff.
  • Search Events to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.

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Environment

Professional, scientific and technical services businesses have a great deal to do with the environment. The main environmental concerns that businesses in this industry should be aware of include:

  • disposal of chemicals and drugs (including developing film)
  • protection of national parks, forests or marine parks
  • protection of threatened species
  • protection of animals and native flora and fauna
  • protection of waterways including rivers, lakes, estuaries and wetlands
  • protection of Aboriginal heritage sites and land
  • protection of world heritage and other heritage listed sights
  • environmental design in architecture and engineering
  • waste management and reduction.

Go to environmental management for advice on how you can manage your impact on the environment.

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Key government organisations & websites

The key federal and state government agencies and websites relevant to the professional, scientific and technical services industry include:

Professional services

Scientists

Accountants

Advertising/marketing/management specialists

Lawyers/solicitors

Vets

Photographers

Architects

Engineers

Computer system designers

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Key advisors

Business advisors can be a valuable tool when establishing and developing your business in your industry. Search Advisory Services to find one near you.

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Industry groups

You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry.

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Other useful information

Information that may be particularly relevant to the professional, scientific and technical services industry include:

See something not quite right? Let us know on our contact us page.

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