If you’re currently willing to work in Australia, why not consider trying your hand at being a traffic controller? It’s a construction trade that offers good pay and isn’t too physically demanding. However, before you dive into this new adventure, there are a few things you need to take care of. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started as a traffic controller.
Traffic Controller: What is it?
Traffic controllers play a critical role in maintaining safety and order on public roads. They are responsible for enforcing the road rules for all users, including vehicles and pedestrians. In addition, they manage the safety of emergency response teams and construction workers in an organised manner. To achieve these objectives, traffic controllers use suitable signalling, such as signs and other devices, as their primary working tool.
These workers can be found in a variety of zones, such as construction, or accident sites, public events, or areas experiencing traffic disruptions. They work independently in the field, receiving instructions via a radio that is regularly updated.
One interesting aspect of this construction trade is its high percentage of female workers. This is likely due to the fact that it is not very physically demanding and offers good pay. Companies are also looking to increase the number of women in their workforce.
Overall, the primary objective of traffic controllers is to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and prevent the risk of road accidents. By doing so, they play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of all road users.
What do I need to work as a Traffic Controller?
A good level of English
Your proficiency in English must be accurate. This will enable you to understand the instructions of your employers and team members. Working in construction can be hazardous, so it is essential to understand safety rules and instructions. Comprehension facilitates the application of these rules and instructions. Furthermore, you will need to complete a special training program called the “White Card.” To pass the test and receive validation, you must be able to understand the questions asked during the examination.
The White Card
The White Card, also known as the Construction Induction Card, is a mandatory permit for working in the construction industry in Australia. It certifies that you have completed a training course and passed validation, ensuring that you are familiar with the safety rules applicable to construction sites. This certification is required for all staff, including supervisors, site managers, and workers who work alongside you. Depending on the state where you will be working, regulations may vary between professions.
White Card training can be completed online or face-to-face. The advantage of online training is that you can take your time and log in as many times as you need. The training lasts between 5 and 6 hours and covers content such as work responsibilities, risks related to construction work, emergency situations, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The price of the training varies depending on the state, with costs typically ranging between $38 and $130.
The White Card is recognized throughout Australia and does not expire. However, there is an exception: if you do not work in the construction sector for two consecutive years, you will need to take a course to refresh your knowledge.
To obtain the White Card, you must create a USI (Unique Student Identifier) as it is an Australian qualification. The procedure is free and can be done on the Australian government specialized USI site.
How to get your White Card in Australia?
The White Card is compulsory to work in the construction industry in Australia. Online and classroom trainings are available to workers.
Traffic Controller courses
To be a traffic controller, there is a minimum level of skills required. The following two courses are mandatory in all Australian states:
- Control traffic with stop-slow bat (RIIWHS205E)
- Implement traffic management plans (RIIWHS302E).
The courses remain valid for 3 years and they cost between $200 and $500.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear is a must-have for working on construction sites. Before starting work, you will need to invest some money. At a minimum, you will need a high-visibility jacket, safety shoes, and a helmet. Depending on the construction site and your job position, you may also need protective glasses and hearing protection. All of these items are necessary to pass the White Card online.
You can purchase this equipment new at Bunnings or used from op-shops, Gumtree, Marketplace, or Facebook groups.
Working conditions: pros and cons
- Feeling useful by helping others to respect traffic rules
- Contributing to reducing the number of road accidents and saving lives
- Attractive salary
- Outdoor work (not being confined inside all day and enjoying good weather)
- The work is not too physically demanding, except for standing for long periods.
- Having to work during holidays and weekends
- Working outdoors and being subject to weather conditions (cold, rain, wind, or snow) that can make the work unpleasant. Similarly, working in full sun with high temperatures can be difficult.
- The work can be monotonous because it is not always engaging, and you often work alone.
- Standing for several hours can be tiring.
Salary of a traffic controller in Australia
The first thing to note is that there is a minimum wage in Australia, which is applicable to all workers. The minimum wage depends on the Awards implemented in each field, and therefore salaries vary according to the sector. In the construction industry, the Building and Construction General On-Site Award (MA 000020) applies. Your salary will vary depending on the contract under which you are hired, which can be a casual contract, daily hire, or weekly hire. Casual workers have a higher hourly rate due to the precariousness of their situation, which means they have no holidays and receive short notice.
To calculate your minimum wage, you can use this tool from FairWork.
The traffic controller trade is better paid than most other construction trades, with hourly wages ranging from $31/hour (for workers without experience) to more than approximately $40/hour (for experienced workers).
How to find a Traffic Controller job?
Gumtree is the number one ally for backpackers. The best option for you is to post an advertisement in the “job” category, where you can provide a brief summary highlighting your strengths, such as a good level of English, physical fitness, previous experience(s), the White Card, availability, etc. It is recommended to check the site daily for new job offers posted by employers.
You can also view job offers on job search sites such as Seek or Indeed by going to the “construction” category.
Labour hire agencies can be of great help in your job search. Registration is usually free and fast, and can be completed online or in-person at the agency. Before visiting, make sure to bring at least your passport, TFN, and White Card. Some agencies may require experience, while others may not. Keep in mind that some agencies are present throughout the country, such as Hays, making them easily accessible. If you are staying in Sydney or Melbourne, we recommend Labor Solutions Australia, Skill Hire, and FT Workforce.
Word of mouth is a very effective method to find job opportunities. Don’t hesitate to speak with people at your hotel to exchange your tips and ask Australians directly if they have any contacts in the construction industry. They are usually open-minded and willing to help.
Working hostels can also be a valuable resource for finding work, as they act as both hotels and temp agencies. However, be wary of false promises of employment and exorbitant prices, as scams are common in some cases.
In addition, social networks, especially Facebook, are full of groups such as “Jobs in Australia“. There are many job offers available, with new ones posted daily.