To find a job and work in Australia, the approach will be different if you decide to work in a city or in a farm (fruit picking). In general it is pretty easy to find a small job with a Working Holiday Visa, but it is still essential to know where to look and get the right approach. With a very dynamic economy and barely 5% unemployment, Australia offers many opportunities for young backpackers. However, in recent years the number of foreigners visiting Australia on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) has multiplied, so it is highly recommended to inform yourself and be well prepared.
Get a work Visa
Unless you are an Australian citizen, you will first need a work visa to work in the country. Indeed, a simple tourist visa does not allow you to work legally. Fortunately, Australia offers a multitude of work visas. Here is a selection of the main temporary work visas:
- Working Holiday Visa (WHV): valid for 1 year, it allows young people aged 18 to 35 to be able to work to finance their stay in Australia. The WHV is renewable up to 2 times under certain conditions, and allows you to work up to 6 months with the same employer.
- Student Visa: for those studying in Australia (up to 5 years). The Student Visa allows students to work outside of class, up to 40 hours in a 15-day period.
- Temporary Skilled labour Shortage Visa (TSS): or skilled workers in a field for which an Australian company cannot find a qualified Australian worker to fill the vacancy. The company is said to “sponsor” the worker. This temporary visa can be valid for up to 4 years.
Prerequisites for working in Australia
Depending on the type of work you want to do and the length of time you want to work in Australia, you will have different needs.
Do some administrative procedures
Once your visa in your pocket, here are the essential steps before you can start the job search:
- Get your TFN (Australian Tax File number)
- Open a bank account in Australia
- Do your Resume in Australia (CV)
- Get an Australian phone number
- And get an ABN (Australian Business Number) if you want to work as a freelancer
Get your Certificates
To exercise certain categories of jobs, it is necessary and often compulsory to obtain certain certifications. For example :
- RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) will be necessary to work in hospitality and in particular to be able to serve alcohol. In this sector, training as a barista can also be appreciated.
- White Card will be required to work in construction, you can supplement it with other certificates such as:
- the Forklift license to drive a forklift
- Working at heights certificate for working at height
- Confined space certificate for working in confined spaces
- Blue Card to become s Traffic Controller (the State Queensland has its own Blue Card that is used as prevention and monitoring system for people working with children and young people)
- RCG / RSG (Responsible Service of Gambling) is dedicated to people wishing to work in the gambling industry.
- WWC Check (Working With Children Check) is required if you want to work with children. The tests are different depending on the state where you work. In Queensland, it is called the Blue Card.
- First aid and CPR training
Most of these courses and certificates are paid but the investment may be worth it because you will have easier access to certain jobs.
Get your RSA in Australia and receive Discounts!
Pay less for your RSA course (Responsible Service of Alcohol). With this certificate, you are allowed to work in all places where alcohol is served or sold.
Working in a city in Australia
There are also a number of major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, etc.). As in all the big cities of the world, job opportunities are many and varied. You can, therefore, find what you are looking for in many areas. However, asserting your qualifications is not always easy and can potentially waste your precious time. This is one of the reasons why many backpackers choose less skilled work during their Work & Travel in Australia.
Be aware that there are many jobs available in Australia that are accessible to everyone as long as there is motivation. The hospitality and tourism industries, for example, create many seasonal jobs and can allow you to earn experience and money. Here is a non exhaustive list of typical backpacker jobs in Australian cities.
Housekeeping is to clean houses, hotels or offices. These jobs are often part-time and paid roughly around $20 to $25 / hr. This type of job does not necessarily require good English skills. Choose hostels or campsites (caravan parks) that are more open to hire backpackers.
Cleaning companies may also offer jobs, however, they will require experience in the field and you will be available to work for them for several months.
Working in Hotels and Restaurants (Hospitality)
The hotel and restaurant industry employs many young travellers, especially during summer. You will be able to work as a receptionist, waiter, chef, kitchen hand, bartender, barista, all-rounder, etc. These jobs are generally well paid, from $19 to $25 / hr + tips, and hourly rates increase in the evening and on weekends.
It is necessary to have an RSA certificate for all jobs that involve serving alcohol. The RSA certificate can be obtained through attending a one-day training course in classes or online, that is required by Australian law. The cost of the course is between 24 AUD and 150 AUD. The legislation is different in each state so be sure to get the RSA certificate for the state you intend to work in.
Work as a driver or delivery person
If you are looking for a job with flexible hours, the jobs of drivers or deliverymen are a good opportunity to earn a little money. You just need to have an ABN, a good smartphone, a vehicle and good insurance.
If you have a car, you will be able to work as a driver for companies like Uber, Didi or Ola in Australia.
If you have a bike, UberEats and Deliveroo also offer jobs to drivers cycling.
Work in Sales
Many jobs are also available in shops (clothing stores, small shops of all kinds). A good level of English is recommended because you will be in direct contact with customers. The salary varies between $19 and $26 / hr (paid more on weekends and holidays).
Supermarkets can also be a possibility, around $20 / hr (at checkout, storekeeper, etc.). The main supermarket chains in Australia are Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA. To find a job with those large brand, it is recommended to apply in small cities or rural areas because in large cities they are more likely to hire Australians.
Working with children in Australia
If you love children and are under 30, working as an Au pair can be a good opportunity to combine work and experience Australia. You will be paid around $250 / week + housed and fed by a family who asks you to take care of the children in exchange. A nanny job is another option, the difference being that you don’t live with the family.
If you have experience and references, also consider going to schools or daycare centres, which sometimes need supervisors or facilitators.
For most of these jobs, you will need a WWCC (Working With Children Check) from the website of your state of residence as well as a First Aid Certificate.
Work in construction
If you have qualifications and/or experience in construction, don’t hesitate to try your luck in Australia. Labour is in high demand and wages are higher than in the hospitality industry. Obviously these are more difficult jobs, but if this is your field go for it!
To work in the construction industry in Australia, you need to get a certificate (White Card), which you can easily obtain through a short online course. This certificate is mandatory in Australia for all construction/ construction-related jobs. It is valid throughout the country. In cities, you can also apply for the position of a Traffic Controller to manage traffic around construction sites.
Work in a call centre or in customer service
Telemarketing is a sector that often recruits temporary workers. Most of the time, it involves working on the phone. Often you have to call customers on behalf of a company or an association. You may also need to provide customer service, in which case you will have to answer incoming calls.
Work in a factory
Working in a factory is also a good way to earn money. These are usually food factories and working conditions can be difficult. English skills are not necessary. Salaries range from $19 – $25 per hr.
Find a qualified job
Depending on your qualifications and your visa, you can also try to find a qualified job in Australia. If you have a WHV, you will only be able to work for 6 months with the same employer, but if the job is in your field, this can be a good way to prove yourself and gain experience in Australia. Afterwards, the employer has to transfer you to another branch or offer you a sponsorship (TSS visa).
Starting a career in Australia can be very attractive, but to be successful you will need to adapt to the Australian market. Create a resume meeting the Australian standards.
Writing a Resume in Australia
Do you want to improve your chances of finding a job in Australia? Follow our guide to adapt your resume to the Australian market.
Working on a farm or in the mines in Australia
Work on a farm
Farm jobs are mostly found in rural areas far from big cities, in the outback. The majority of jobs on farms relate to vegetable production, animal husbandry, the cultivation of cereals or cotton, fishing …
Be aware that this type of job generally involves strenuous work positions that test your physical condition. The work will often be repetitive and tiring. In general, the farms will offer you accommodation on site (free or paid).
For holders of a WHV and who wish to renew it to stay for another year, it is necessary to work for 3 months in rural areas (eligible regions).
Fruit Picking is a comprehensive term which includes all work related to agriculture. These jobs appear to be the most suitable for those who wish to work for short or medium term to finance their travel and especially those travelling with their campervan. Fruit Picking jobs are popular for young travellers with a Working Holiday Visa because they do not need special skills and you find farms all around Australia during your road trip.
Each Australian state offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to harvest throughout the year. These jobs give you the opportunity to meet the Australian locals as well as other backpackers from across the world. Please note that they generally involve difficult working conditions.
The Fruit Picking Map
Are you looking for a job in Fruit Picking? Get free access to more than 400 farm contacts via our interactive map.
Other agricultural work
Even though Fruit Picking is an agricultural activity is very widespread because it requires a lot of seasonal labour, there are lots of other farm jobs in Australia!
It is also possible to work in contact with animals or be a farm worker on a grain farm. On dairy farms, livestock farms (oxen, sheep, goats, pigs, and even crocodiles!), You will have to take care of the animals on site and lend a hand to the daily work of the farm.
If you are a farm worker, and know how to drive a tractor, and are not afraid of physical labour, consider these Australian job opportunities as well.
Working on a solar farm in Australia
For some time Australia has invested in solar farm projects. These are large farms whose activity is to generate electricity from solar panels. These operations are often located in remote areas and labour for maintenance or installation is sought after and well paid. Salaries are around $28 / hr + bonuses.
Know that you will need the White Card to work on a solar farm.
Work in the mines
The mining sector in Australia is a pillar of the national economy. The workforce is very well paid because working in a mine requires an intense and sometimes physical work rhythm. Mines in Australia are often located in remote areas and most mine workers work on a rotating basis, known as FIFO (Fly In Fly Out). Wages are therefore quite high, from $21/ hr to $42/ hr for the least qualified workers.
The possible jobs in a mine are very varied: from worker to engineer, machine operator or cook, maintenance agent …
Do an internship or volunteer
Internships in Australia
To prove yourself after your studies or to have a first approach of the country, you may wish to do an internship in Australia. Be aware that the situation in Australia is different from other Countries. While in Europe, the internship is considered a professional experience, in Australia it is rather considered as a voluntary observation experience in a company. That’s why most internships are unpaid.
Volunteering is generally a very common practice in Australia. Having one or more volunteering experiences in Australia can be helpful as it is often highly valued by recruiters. Many associations are looking for volunteers to lend a helping hand.
The Wwoofing is a very popular practice in Australia. The principle is simple, you are housed and fed in exchange for working at the farm. Your hosts provide you with accommodation (caravan, room, tent …) and meals. To join, you will need to register to the Wwoofing program: www.wwoof.com.au
The HelpExchange program is based on the same principle as the woofing. Again, it is necessary to become a member to access and contact hosts directly. You work for the farm, ranch, property in exchange for shelter and food. Membership fee cost €20. You can register here: www.helpx.net
Note that since 2015, volunteer work can no longer be counted towards your specified work for the renewal of your Working Holiday Visa.
Finally, volunteer work in disaster-affected areas will also count for the days required to renew your WHV. It will count for a second and third year. For more information, read this article: WHV specified work in disaster affected areas.
Working as a freelancer in Australia
To work as a freelancer is to have the freedom to carry out your activity where you want or to have additional income. It is quite possible to work on your own with a temporary work visa. You just need to request an ABN (Australian Business Number) number. The procedure is quite simple and is done online. Once you have your ABN, you will be able to bill your customers, whether they are individuals or businesses.
You will have to follow a few rules to issue your invoices, such as having a TFN to declare your annual income to the ATO. Consider increasing your hourly rates in comparison to salaried work because you will have to save some income for your taxes (income taxes, retirement and insurance).
Note that it is possible to exercise a freelance activity in addition to a salaried activity. You will just have to think about adding your income during your tax return.
Taxation in Australia
Australia levies taxes on your wages. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) takes care of this. The good news is that your employer pays the taxes, so the tax is withheld at source. It is therefore normal for your employer to ask you for your TFN when he offers you a job and you have 28 days to provide it after your hire.
Even if you have a temporary work visa (WHV, TSS visa, etc.), you are subject to this tax as soon as you earn more than $450 per month. In this case, your company contributes to your superannuation (9.5% of your salary) and for your health insurance, called Medicare levy (2% of your salary).
At the end of the fiscal year (June 30), you will still have to declare your income for the year to the ATO. Depending on the total amount of income received (from your salary bracket), your tax rate will be different, and in some cases, you may have to recover part of the taxes paid. For example, if you earned less than $18,000, you would not pay taxes.
At the time of this declaration, you will also be able to request reimbursement of Medicare levy if you do not benefit from the Australian health system. As for the superannuation, you can ask to recover it when you leave Australia. Keep in mind that you will be taxed on the sum. Many organisations offer to support you in these steps.
Remember to keep your Australian bank account to benefit from the refund of your superannuation. Once the amount has been paid, you will only have to transfer your money back to your country of residence.
Your rights as a worker
Starting a new job can be an exciting time but also a little stressful. Although each workplace is different, some rights and responsibilities apply to all employees and employers in Australia. To avoid the abuse of unscrupulous employers against young foreign workers, let us recall some labour rights and rules in Australia:
- The legal working time in Australia is 38h per week.
- Annual paid leave is 4 weeks + 1 additional week for certain shift workers.
- Parental leave can go up to 12 months renewable once, unpaid.
- All employees working in Australia are entitled to a minimum wage
For most employees, this minimum wage is set by an agreement (an Award) which relates to their sector of activity or their profession. For each Award, there is, therefore, a minimum rate of remuneration and different rights. You can check the FairWork site for your Award. For employees not covered by an Award, the national minimum wage applies $19.49 per hour or $740.80 per week (since July 1, 2019).
Note that depending on the type of contract, the rate of remuneration may vary. This is particularly the case for casual jobs. For this type of job, the number of hours you will work per week is not guaranteed. To compensate, you benefit from an increased hourly rate to cover job insecurity (absence of paid leave, sick leave, etc.).
Backpacker Jobs and Salaries
What jobs can you get in Australia and for what salary? To give you authentic information, we asked other backpackers.
When you start a new job in Australia, make sure you obtain as soon as possible the following information from your employer :
- How high is your salary or pay rate?
- What will be your type of contract? Full time, part time, or casual
- What are your working hours?
- What are your tasks?
- What is the award (company collective agreement) that covers your job?
- Is there a trial period to provide for the job?
To learn more about your rights, visit the FairWork website.
Extend your stay in Australia
Many people seek to immigrate to Australia. Indeed, life in Australia is very pleasant and it is possible to make a career there. Here are some possibilities to extend your stay.
Renew your WHV
If you come to Australia with a WHV (valid for one year), you can extend it for a second year if you work 88 days of regional work during the first year of your visa. And since July 2019, it is now possible to obtain a second renewal, i.e. a third year of WHV with 6 months of regional work.
Turn your visa into a student visa or tourist visa
At the end of your temporary work visa, you can switch to a student visa by registering for a course. It can be a course in a school (university, TAFE, etc.) or simple language course.
You can also apply for a tourist visa (eVisitor). This is valid for 3 months but does not allow you to work legally. It can, however, give you the time you need to find a sponsor.
Find a sponsor
If you found a job during your first stay in Australia and your employer wishes to keep you, he can sponsor you to stay in Australia 2 to 4 years under a TSS visa. This of course provided that your job is listed as an eligible occupation.
Get a partner visa
Finally, if during your stay you meet an Australian and if your relationship lasts more than a year, you can apply for a partner visa.