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:
- Key legislation & initiatives
- Licences & permits
- Finance & tax
- Levies & charges
- Workplace health & safety (WHS)
- Intellectual property (IP)
- Industry training
- Key government organisations & websites
- Key advisors
- Industry groups
- Other useful information
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) The Accounting Consulting and Legal services page on the ABS website contains data on the legal profession.
- Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) The ALRC provides a number of publications and reports relevant to the legal profession.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) See the service industries page on the ABS website for statistics on the veterinary services industry.
- 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.
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
- Australian Accounting Standards
- Tax agent services legislation
- Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006
- State/territory legal profession legislation
- Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006
- State/territory animal welfare legislation
- Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 (Agvet Code)
- National Construction Code
- State & territory architect acts & codes of practice
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Qld Professional Engineers Act 2002
- Civil aviation safety standards
- Motor vehicle Australian Design Rules
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.
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:
- State permit to use animals for scientific purposes
- State permit to undertake scientific research in parks or on wildlife
- Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence
- Tax adviser registration
- Tax agent registration
- BAS agent registration
- State/territory advertisement signage placement licences
- State/territory lawyer practicing certificate
- State/territory solicitor practicing certificate
- State/territory veterinarian registration
- State/territory registration of veterinary premises
- State/territory licence to operate veterinary hospital
- State/territory photography permit
- State/territory parks & wildlife photography permit
- State/territory architect registration
- 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.
If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:
- Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for awards specific to your industry.
- Find out about your rights and obligations when employing people.
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:
- keeping your tax records, for advice from the ATO about what records you need to keep for tax purposes
- our information on tax
- our information on managing your finances.
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.
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:
- See the Australian Research Council grants page for specific grants and assistance programs for arts businesses.
- Search Grants & Assistance to find support for the professional, scientific and technical services industry.
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:
- mandatory asbestos training for architects and engineers (ACT)
- standards for protective clothing and equipment
- standards for occupational safety signage
- manual handling safety standards
- biosecurity measures
- handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances
- handling livestock and animals.
Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:
- For WHS information specific to your industry, see the Hazardous chemicals and Nanotechnology pages on the Safe Work Australia website.
- For details on your general health and safety obligations, go to workplace health and safety.
- For state specific occupational health and safety information, see your state or territory workplace health and safety agency.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The key federal and state government agencies and websites relevant to the professional, scientific and technical services industry include:
- Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)
- Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
- Office of the Chief Scientist
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
- Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
- Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
- Australian Taxation Office
- Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB)
- Tax Practitioners Board (TPB)
- Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)
- Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB)
- Department of Agriculture
- Office of the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
- ACT Veterinary Surgeons Board
- NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board
- Veterinary Board of the Northern Territory
- Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland
- Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia
- Veterinary Board of Tasmania
- Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
- WA Veterinary Surgeons’ Board
- Australian Building Codes Board
- ACT Architects Board
- NSW Architects Registration Board
- NT Architects Board
- Board of Architects of Queensland
- Architectural Practice Board of South Australia
- Board of Architects of Tasmania
- Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV)
- Architects Board of Western Australia
Computer system designers
Business advisors can be a valuable tool when establishing and developing your business in your industry. Search Advisory Services to find one near you.
You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry.
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.