With a strong economy and 5% unemployment rate, Australia is a very attractive place for backpackers to come and work. While it can be very straightforward to start working in Australia, due to the increase in backpackers visiting Australia each year, it has become all the more important to make sure you are well prepared to try an get ahead. In this post, we are going to go into everything you need to know to when looking for work in Australia.
Types Of Visas
When coming to Australia you have to have a visa that allows you to work. There are a few options based on your qualification:
- Working Holiday Visa (WHV): This visa allows 18-35 year olds to stay in Australia for 12 months and also allows them to work for an employer for up to six months. You can also get a 2nd/3rd year extension to this visa if you complete the required regional work. To be elegible, you must be from qualifying countries.
- Skilled Visa: There are multiple skilled visa options. To qualify for one of these visa there is a lot of criteria you must meet. Your qualification must also be on the Skill Occupation List.
- Student Visa: A student visa allows you to study in Australia for up to 5 years. On this visa you can also work a maximum of 40 hours every fortnight.
For more information on visa options, checkout the official Australian Government website here.
Before Working In Australia
Before you start working, there are a few things that you should sort out first. Here are the essentials:
- Apply for a TFN (Tax File Number): As soon as you arrive in Australia, apply for a TFN. If you do not have one when working, you will be taxed at a much higher tax rate. However, if you start working before having one you do have up 28 days to provide one.
- Get An Australian Sim Card: Having an Aussie sim will give you a better chance of getting a call back when applying for jobs.
- Open An Australian Bank Account
- Apply For An Australian Business Number ABN (Optional): If you plan on being self employed while in Australia, you will have to apply for an ABN.
Certificates You Might Need
Depending on the type of work you plan on doing, you may need to grt certain certificates:
- White Card: A white card is needed for people wanting to work in the construction sector.
- RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol): For any job where you are serving alcohol, you will need to have an RSA
- RCG (Responsible Conduct of Gambling): For any betting/gambling related jobs, you will need to have a RCG.
- WWCC (Working With Children Check): You will need to get a WWCC in any role where children are involved.
- First Aid & CPR: Many sports related jobs will require you have a these certifications.
Getting Work In A City
Australia has many large cities from which you could find work (such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin & Gold Coast). In this section we are going to go over the most common roles to get as a backpacker when working in a city in Australia:
Contact Centre Roles
Contact centre roles are very common for backpackers since there is typically very little experience needed. With many of these roles paying above minimum wage, it is definitely an option to look into . Most common tasks in this role would include answering phone calls, replying to emails and talking to customers via web chat.
Bar & Restaurant Work
Bar & restaurant work has always been one of the most popular backpacking jobs. This type of work can be found all across Australia so if you have some experience in this area and can handle the fast pace nature of working in bars/restaurants, it could definitely be worth keeping an eye out for these types of roles (just make sure you get your RSA certificate first).
Another popular job among backpackers is roles in a warehouse. Typical tasks in this sort of role would include pick packing stock, operating a forklift & using an RF scanner. Having previous experience and also forklift licence is a massive advantage. There are always plenty of warehousing roles available across Australia so it might be something worth considering.
Due to the sheer amount of building going on in the bigger cities in Australia, construction continues to be a massive employer of backpackers. If you have some experience back home working in construction, then it would definitely be worth applying for roles in this industry. The hourly pay in construction is typically well above the minimum wage leaving you with plenty of money to save for your travels! Make sure to get your white card for the state you are planning on working in.
Since Australia is a very popular tourist destination especially during the summer, there are many roles that are around for specific months of the year which is perfect for backpackers due to the 6 months per employer limit. Examples of these type roles include working in a water-park, theme park, setting up/cleaning up festivals, aquariums etc. Roles like these are very appealing due to the holiday feeling this type of work has. There are plenty of theme parks & water parks across Australia who will be looking to hire, especially during summer.
Whether you are just looking to get away from the city or you are looking to tick off your regional work for your 2nd year visa, there is plenty of work outside of the big cities in Oz. The easiest work to find that will count towards your 88 days for your 2nd year visa would be farm work. When doing farm work, tasks include, picking fruit, sorting out fruit, tending to animals, using machinery & driving tractors.
However, be careful if you decide to do fruit picking. Many farms only pay employees per bucket of fruit picked which usually results in you getting paid much less than minimum wage and leaving you stressed during your work. If you struggle to find farm work that pays a fair wage, I would highly recommend you get in contact with a working hostel if you plan on doing regional work. Working hostels can sometimes guarantee you hourly wages and somewhere to stay while doing your farm work. Typically the cost of accommodation is higher in working hostels but it is worth it as long as you can get paid by the hour at the farm.
Becoming Self Employed In Australia
For anyone interested in being their own boss or just earning a side income while in Oz, you will need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Applying for one is free of charge and can be done online. Just like in any other country, you will have to submit your tax returns at the end of the Australian tax year and pay any tax due. If you are not familiar with Australian taxes, I recommend that you contact an Australian account so as to clear up any questions you might have.
Working In Australia – Your Rights
Getting a new job in a new country can be a very exiting time. However, its important to know your working rights to make sure you are not being overworked or underpaid. It’s good to know that all workers in Australia have the same rights and protections at work, regardless of citizenship or visa status. So lets go over some labor rights in Australia:
- Full time working hours are 38 hours a week when working in Australia.
- Annual leave is 20 days per year for most work.
- Parental leave can last for up to 12 months renewable once, unpaid.
Workers in Australia are also entitled to a minimum wage. For most work, this wage is set by an award which depends on the sector. As for employees not classed under an award, the minimum wage is $19.49 per hour over the age of 21. For more information, checkout the Fair Work website.
How To Extend Your Stay
When your visa gets close to expiring you may wish to stay longer than you originally planned. Here we will list your options for staying in Australia for longer than your first year WHV:
- Apply For 2nd/3rd Year WHV – The easiest option to extend your stay is to do your regional work and then apply for the 2nd year visa.
- Getting A Sponsorship – If you have qualifications/experience in a high demand field, you might be able to find an employer to sponsor you. Make sure to check the Australian Skilled Occupation List to see if your qualification is there.
- Apply For A Partner Visa – Another way to extend your stay would be to apply for a partner visa. This can be a viable option if you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen.
- Get A Holiday Visa – If you are just looking to stay a few months longer to explore what Australia has to offer, you can easily apply for a holiday visa and switch to it when your working holiday visa expires.
Preparing for your trip to Australia is a very exiting time, however it can be quite stressful sorting out everything before you leave. We hope this guide was able to clear up a lot of your questions regarding working in Australia and the steps to take. If you would like more information on travelling or working in Australia, feel free to check out the rest of our blog!