Working in the construction industry has many advantages in Australia. Firstly, you can find work both in the city and in the countryside. Secondly, these jobs are usually well paid (way above the minimum wage for backpackers). Thirdly, depending on the region, the work might count towards the Second Year visa. It’s also relatively easy to find a job because the demand for labour is high. Here are a few tips for finding a job in the construction industry.
What are the requirements for working on a construction site?
If you’re not a native speaker, your English skills must be good enough to understand your supervisor’s instructions and to get the White Card. Also, get specific vocabulary for tools and operations.
The White Card ensures that all construction workers are familiar with safety equipment, signals as well as health and safety policies. This license is mandatory for working in the construction sector. It is recognised throughout Australia. To get your White Card, you have to complete a short course either online or in the classroom. This can take several hours and costs between 39 (online) and 100 AUD. There is no exam. As this course is officially recognised as an Australian short course, you need a Unique Student Identifier (USI), which you create online. You need a valid Australian visa as your passport number is linked to the USI.
More information: White Card in Australia – Online Course
In terms of equipment, the term “PPE” is used for “personal protective equipment“. You have to invest in a warning jacket, safety boots and a helmet. Depending on the construction site and the environment, you might also need goggles and hearing protection. The White Card requires that you got your own protective equipment.
To work as a traffic controller, to drive heavy vehicles, or to do other tasks, you need specific licenses.
What kind of work is needed in the construction sector?
If you are after making good money, you may want to consider working at night or on weekends, as hourly wages are much higher then.
Here is a list of construction jobs you can do without experience or qualifications in Australia:
Labourer (unskilled labour)
Your job is to make sure that all craftsmen have got what they need on site. For example, you carry cement bags, bricks, wooden boards, or tools or you fill and carry buckets with water. You will probably also use a few tools such as the jackhammer and do simple tasks, such as isolating. The advantage is that you can make contacts with everyone involved. The disadvantage is that it is a physical work. The wages can be between 25 and 45 AUD per hour, depending on your experience and the level of difficulty of the job.
This includes picking up garbage, sweeping, cleaning the construction site and packing hazardous waste and garbage in bags. The Cleaner is responsible for preventing the build-up of dust harmful to lungs on the job site, thus ensuring good working conditions. The advantage is that the physical work is less hard. The disadvantage, however, is that you must always wear a mask to prevent the inhalation of dust. The pay is the same as a labourer’s. At very small construction sites, you can do both jobs at once.
The traffic controller sways traffic signs, directs the traffic, and accompanies visitors or passers-by through the construction site. This is a position that requires a traffic control license, which costs between $200 and $500. This construction job employs most women because no physical strength is needed and you also get paid well. In addition, companies that want to increase the proportion of women in their workforce prefer women for this position. The advantage, as I said, is that you don’t have to do any physical work. The disadvantage is that you get bored very quickly and you have to stand around all day, mostly in the sun. Traffic controller are paid better than other unskilled backpackers in the construction industry: between AUD 30 and 45 per hour.
Jobs for skilled tradesmen
Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, pavers or other skilled craftsmen usually have high salaries. Contact the company directly, tell them about your qualifications and experience and ask for at least AUD 30-35 per hour.
Tips for job-hunting in the construction industry
ALL backpackers love Gumtree. Post a local ad in the Jobs category and indicate that you are looking for a construction job. Mention all your strengths (good English skills, good fitness, etc.). Your experience in the construction industry should be in the title of the ad. Then check every day if any new job offers have come up.
Work agencies also regularly offer jobs in the construction industry. The registration process is usually free and fast, either online or in person. For that, you need your passport, your TFN and the White Card. Some jobs require experience, others specialize in inexperienced workers.
The Australian fiscal year starts on 1 July. Shortly afterwards, it is easier to find a job. Companies that have frozen their business for any reasons at the end of the fiscal year will usually resume their business.
Word of mouth is still the best method. Ask everyone you know in Australia if they have any contacts in construction. Don’t hesitate to talk to people at the hostel who work in the construction industry. And, as some Australians tend to say, “the best way to find a job is to go to the pub”
On Facebook, there are few groups like “Backpackers in Sydney”, “Australia Backpacker Jobs”, “Construction Jobs in Australia”. There are constantly new job offers. But you have to be quick and check the groups every day to see if something new has popped up. Positions are quickly filled.