Whether you’re a bartender, a receptionist or a nanny, here's how much you can earn working in Australia.
From swimming through turquoise waters to sipping wine amidst a sparking skyline, working holiday makers get to experience the best of Australia. While there are plenty of experiences that won’t cost you much, a job can mean extra money to fund your travels, experience in a range of industries and mingling with locals and other travellers.
There are endless work opportunities in Australia, and many of them pay higher wages than you’ll find in other countries.
The national minimum wage is currently AUD $18.93 per hour or AUD $719.20 per 38-hour week (before tax). Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also get at least a 25 per cent casual loading added to their pay. Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for complete details on minimum wage and workers' rights.
Here’s what you can expect while working Down Under.
With so many bars and restaurants serving up Australia’s best gins, whiskies and wines, bartending is a perfect job for backpackers and working holiday makers. Before you can start serving drinks, you’ll need to complete your Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training, which teaches the regulations around alcohol in Australia. Anyone responsible for selling or serving alcohol in Australia must take RSA training and receive an RSA certificate. An RSA certificate can range in cost depending on the state and package you choose. Be sure you complete your training through a certified provider to ensure your certificate is valid.
As a bartender, you'll get to meet locals, bond with other bartenders and learn about Australia's amazing gin, beer and wine scene. Bartenders can also make a higher hourly wage than you might think. Many venues pay above minimum wage if you have bartending experience, and some will also throw in tips and free or discounted meals. Hospitality, along with a few other industries, sometimes even offer ‘penalty rates’ for working on weekends or public holidays, which can bump the figures higher.
Like bartending, waiting tables in Australian restaurants can be both fun and practical for working holiday makers. Although you may need to show an RSA certificate depending on the restaurant's alcohol policy, becoming a waiter is low-cost and doesn't require any specific training.
Restaurant servers generally earn the same wage as bartenders, with rates starting at minimum wage, and your pay will depend on how much experience you have in the hospitality industry.
Working as an au pair offers the chance to experience the Aussie way of life with a local family. Depending on the job, you may need a current first aid qualification as well as a Working with Children check (each state will have unique requirements, so it's best to apply for this when you know where you'll be living). Expect to pay between AUD $80 and $125 for your Working with Children check and between AUD $70 and $160 for your first aid course depending on the training you choose.
While you may need to fork out a few upfront costs to get qualified for this role, you should be able to quickly cover your investment. In Australia, au pairs usually earn a small weekly or monthly stipend in addition to free room and board and daily meals provided. If you're lucky you'll enjoy excursions with the whole family. Be sure to discuss not only your pay but your schedule, meals and lifestyle with your prospective family.
Fruit picking on Australian farms is popular among working holiday makers, especially because eligible work in remote parts of the country allow those on working holiday visas (Subclass 417 and Subclass 462) to stay for an additional year. While you don’t need any specific training or certificates to work on a farm, you may be required to supply your own steel cap boots, gloves and hi-vis work shirts. Check with your employer before you head into the country, as it may be cheaper to purchase your equipment in a larger city.
One thing fruit picking will give you that many other jobs won’t is the ability to earn money per bin as opposed to per hour. This means your hourly rate is entirely up to how quickly you work. Learn more about how piece rates are calculated here.
Receptionist and administrative assistant
If you’re looking for a job with a great schedule, reception is an ideal option. Hours usually fall between 9am and 5pm, leaving you plenty of time for an after-work ocean swim during the summer months (December to February). In Australia, a receptionist role generally pays above the minimum wage, depending on your experience.
Most businesses need someone well-presented and friendly at front of house to keep their clientele happy, so the demand is high. Be sure to put out lots of applications and don’t forget to dress up and be friendly during your interview. Your hostel might even be an easy place to start your search. Ask the manager if they could use someone to manage their front of house.
Australia’s cities and regional areas are always developing, which means there are plenty of construction jobs that are perfect for working holiday makers. In addition to plentiful work, construction allows you to move around the country, improve your skills and even qualify for a second-year visa if you complete three months of eligible work in a regional area.
To work construction, you’ll need to hold a valid White Card, which shows that you’re prepared to work safely on a construction site. A White Card course generally takes only one day to complete and typically costs less than AUD $50. Some classes may include a personal equipment pack for an additional cost, which provides equipment like gloves, boots and safety glasses.
The average wage for construction work varies depending on your skills and experience, but these types of jobs often offer a daily rate above the minimum wage. Many construction jobs also offer overtime penalty rates, so you’ll earn extra cash for extra hours. You may be able to secure a higher wage if you have skills in handling power tools, carpentry or renovation.
If you haven’t previously worked in construction, you can still apply for more general labour roles. These jobs could include tasks like gardening, landscaping and site maintenance and earn you slightly above minimum wage even without previous experience.
Jobs in tourism
One of the benefits of these types of jobs is that you typically don’t need any specific training or experience; just a good attitude and taste for adventure. As a crew member on a boat charter, your salary will likely start around the minimum wage, but you could earn even more for overnight charters. In the hospitality industry, you may receive discounted accommodation in addition to your pay. Either way, you’ll be able to experience some of Australia’s most magical destinations as you work and play.
For the most up to date information regarding visas and the Working Holiday Maker program, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.
Note: Tourism Australia is not the Australian government authority on pay rates or workers' rights.
The content on this page is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for complete details on minimum wage and workers' rights in Australia: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/