Want to earn a wage while you wander? Consider these options.
Australia is full of unforgettable destinations and incredible landscapes. If you’re on a working holiday, you might want to earn some cash to fund your travels. Here are some great jobs you can get as a working holiday maker in Australia.
You’ll find a cafe on almost every corner in many of Australia’s major cities. With the love of coffee alive and well across the country, being a barista means you can find a job anywhere you travel. You could brew at a beachfront cafe in Perth or create the deconstructed drinks on offer in Melbourne’s many hipster coffee shops. Australians take their coffee seriously, so most cafes will require you to complete a barista training course before being hired. The length of these courses range from three-hour espresso basics to a five-day master barista class. While you certainly don’t have to be a master to be hired as a barista, learning the basics (or more) will improve your chances of getting a job.
Australia’s drink scene is thriving in cities across the country, which is why bartending is a promising option for working holiday makers. Beyond earning a great starting wage, you’ll also get to mingle with the locals, score discounts on food and have your daytime free. There are small pubs, craft breweries, distilleries, wine bars and even posh rooftop bars all around the country where you can apply for jobs year-round. Anyone responsible for serving alcohol in Australia, like bartenders, are required to complete Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training, so be sure to research RSA courses in the state you plan to work.
From quiet cafes to sought-after restaurants, Australia has an endless amount of establishments that need waiters to keep their dining room running smoothly. Luckily, you don’t need any experience to start, and you can find a schedule that fits with your lifestyle. Try searching on popular job boards like Seek and Indeed, or simply stop into a few eateries and ask about open opportunities. If you have previous experience, aim for a job at one of Australia’s fine dining venues, which boast exceptional service and offer even higher wages. Like bartending, you’ll need an RSA certificate if the restaurant serves alcohol.
With so many stunning aquatic destinations, employment as a deckhand is a popular choice for working holiday makers in Australia. After all, your office will be the open ocean, and you’ll get to meet other like-minded travellers. Consider looking for open positions on a yacht or catamaran in some of Australia’s most popular boating areas, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns, where cruises operate year-round.
If you’re keen for a job on the water, there are often jobs available on fishing vessels along the coast of almost every Australian state, as well as on pearling vessels in Western Australia and Queensland. While casual pearling jobs can be found year-round, pearling companies tend to double their staff during harvest season, which runs from April to October.
Many roles on fishing and pearling boats even qualify as ‘specified work,’ which is required if you want to apply for a second year on your Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) or Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417). Be sure to secure the job early enough to complete the required three months of specified work during the first year of your visa.
Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date information regarding working holiday visas and specified work.
General labour work is common among visitors on Work and Holiday Visas (subclass 462) and Working Holiday Visas (subclass 417) because it offers high wages and often requires no previous experience. Your tasks may include anything from gardening to simple construction, and expertise in plumbing, carpentry and welding are a plus.
Those with previous experience can look for a range of construction jobs, which are readily available across the country.
If you already have a university degree or relevant qualification, you might find it easy to get contract work in your chosen career. Short-term contracts, such as project contracts and maternity leave covers, can be found in fields such as accounting, marketing, human resources, IT, project management and more. Be sure to check each role for the required working rights before applying to ensure they accept working holiday applicants.
If you’re looking for a job in the city that offers a good wage and great schedule, then reception might be ideal. Salaries generally start above minimum wage, and typically no evening or weekend work is required. Receptionist work doesn’t necessarily require previous experience, but good organisational skills and administration knowledge will help you excel at the job. As you’re only permitted to work for one employer for six months while on a working holiday, be sure to look for temp roles that are offering short-term contracts.
Many Australian families are looking for a responsible young adult to help care for their children. If you’re interested in becoming an au pair in Australia, an au pair placement agency can help you find the right fit. Often, parents will require you to have a Working With Children Check and current first aid qualification. These vary by state, so be sure to research your options in the state you’d like to work. As an au pair, you may be responsible for tasks like school pick-up and drop-off, doing the children’s laundry and of course, caring for and entertaining the children. Being an au pair allows you to join a typical Australian family and settle into the Aussie way of life. You might even get to travel with the family and discover more incredible destinations.
Australia is full of farms growing everything from avocados to apples. Farms are often short on fruit pickers and harvesters, offering a fantastic opportunity for working holiday makers to earn a wage, receive free accommodation and complete the three months of specified work required to stay an additional year.
While you can find harvesting jobs all year-round, certain crops have shorter seasons than others. If you want to pick grapes in one of Australia’s beautiful wine regions, work the harvest season between February and April. Settle down in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, to pick mangoes from November to February. For farm work during the winter months (June to August), head to South Australia to pick oranges, Western Australia to pick bananas or the Northern Territory to pick wildflowers and citrus.
Although many harvesting jobs are located away from the city, fruit picking gives you the opportunity to experience beyond well-known destinations and really immerse yourself in the Australian countryside. Besides fruit picking, you’ll also find other types of farm work like planting crops and caring for horses.
Sales is an excellent career option for working holiday makers who want to gain real-world experience in commerce, customer service, and of course, sales. You’ll gain valuable skills in communication, persuasion and prioritisation, which you can use to enhance your CV when you return home. A sales position might also offer benefits like in-store discounts and daytime hours. There are many large shopping centres in Australia where you can start your search. From fashion to electronics to homewares, you’ll be able to find retail opportunities that pique your interest. Shops generally look for help year-round, and put on extra staff just before the Christmas holidays.
Call centre operator
If you have a talent for talking with customers, a job in a call centre might be perfect for you. As a call centre operator, you’ll be responsible for handling customer enquiries, recording customer information and referring calls to the appropriate team. A job in a call centre will equip you with skills that apply to a huge range of careers, like organisation, data handling and multitasking.
Housekeeping is a popular job among backpackers and working holiday makers because it often offers free accommodation in some of Australia’s most stunning destinations, from the lush rainforest of the Daintree to the picturesque waters of Margaret River. Housekeepers for hostels, hotels and boutique homestays are paid a wage for working hours, and in some cases, can volunteer a few hours a week to receive their accommodation for free. This allows you to explore both seaside towns like Queensland’s Airlie Beach and big, bustling cities like Sydney more affordably.
While it’s not a paid job, volunteering offers valuable skills as well as the opportunity to get involved with a cause you’re passionate about. Plus, volunteering can take you to places you’d never expect. Help rehabilitate Australian wildlife at a sanctuary in Queensland, conserve diverse ecosystems in Western Australia or volunteer on an organic farm in exchange for free room and board. No matter which opportunity you choose, you’ll leave not only with marketable skills but also deeper insight into the people, places and wildlife that make Australia so unique.
Major event worker
You can get incredible work experience by being in the thick of it at some of the world's biggest events. Melbourne boasts a massive list of major events each year including the Australian Open, F1 Australian Grand Prix, Spring Racing Carnival and Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, where you'll find jobs available throughout the year but particularly during the summer months (December to February). At the Australian Open, you'll find a wide variety of roles up for grabs, from hospitality staff to site crew and even player concierge. Melbourne isn't the only city with event jobs on offer, either. Check out Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, WOMAdelaide and Brisbane Festival for more employment opportunities.