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Construction Jobs in Australia

construction worker equipment in a construction site with the text Construction Jobs in Australia - Backpacker's Guide

There are so many great job opportunities for construction jobs in Australia allowing you to earn great money, get eligible visa days, and fund your next travel adventure while working in Australia.

The construction industry is huge in Australia and it offers many opportunities for workers with different skills and qualifications.

Here are all the essentials you need to simplify your job search so you can focus on enjoying your time in Australia.

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1. Types of Construction Jobs

Australia’s construction industry is growing rapidly as well as its population which means there is a huge demand for construction workers. Construction is a well-paid job in Australia and if in the right location also can count towards your Eligible Visa Days to extend your working holiday visa for another year or two if you hold a holiday work visa.

The construction industry in Australia is very broad and covers any work on a construction job site where tools or machinery are used.

Below, is an overview of the most common construction jobs in Australia I compiled for you.

1.1 Engineer

There is a shortage of experienced, qualified engineers in Australia, making it a highly accessible field for overseas professionals with experience in certain areas.

While shortages affect several engineering disciplines many of the opportunities are infrastructure and mining-related due to the nature of the Australian economy.

Here in Australia, Civil Engineering jobs are usually available particularly if you have experience in Building Construction, Civil Construction (especially Road Construction and Maintenance), Tunnelling, Traffic, Transport, Water or Structures.

Electrical, Mechanical, and Chemical engineering positions are also available, particularly in areas associated with Infrastructure and Building such as building services or water treatment.

Critical shortages mean engineering professionals in Australia are being offered generous salaries and incentives.

To be fully recognised as a “Professional Engineer”, “Engineering technologist” or “Engineering Associate” in Australia you will have to get your engineering qualifications assessed by the industry’s governing body. You can find full details of the assessment process and download the relevant application forms through Engineers Australia.

It can generally take about four to eight weeks to have your qualifications assessed.

1.2 Architect in Australia

Overseas trained architects with the relevant qualifications and experience are in a good position to find employment here in Australia, but there are strict procedures that architects need to follow to ensure they can work in the country.

In each state or territory of Australia, it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘architect’ or offering services to the public as an architect, must be registered with the Architects’ Board in that state or territory.

You must hold an approved qualification (this is at the discretion of the board in each state or territory) from a recognised school of architecture. The board will also look at how much on-the-job experience you have (you will likely be required to obtain practical experience in Australia) to determine if you are eligible to be registered and then you must pass the AACA (The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia) Architectural Practice Examination.

A provisional assessment of your overseas architecture qualification can be undertaken before you leave for Australia. For more information on qualifications and professional requirements visit the AACA website.

1.3 Labourer in Australia

A labourer is basically any person on a job site that does not have a trade certificate or qualification in the field that they are working in.

The role of the labourer is usually to assist the trade-qualified workers so that they can work faster on more skilled work and reduce their amount of physical work and basic tasks.

The tasks that a labourer is required to do depends on your employer, but generally, a labourer does the more physically demanding or less desirable/basic jobs like filling wheelbarrows, digging holes, moving construction materials, and fetching equipment for the tradespeople on site. Depending on your experience and the employer sometimes you will use hand tools, and machinery and can complete some types of skilled work that a qualified tradesperson would normally do.

To be a labourer you don’t need to have much or any experience, you just need to have a positive attitude and be willing to put in a hard day’s work. Sometimes the work can be tough but you can learn new skills.

Labourers are paid less than qualified tradespeople but are still paid well earning around $24 – $40 an hour, depending on your experience and the tasks you are required to do.

1.4 Demolition

Demolition is a lesser-known job that many backpackers miss out on, but it is popular among those who are aware of it and it can help you earn your eligible visa days.

Demolition includes a wide range of tasks ranging from demolishing entire houses or buildings, knocking down walls and roofs, removing driveways and walls, and clearing building materials from demolished structures.

Demolition is generally a very physically demanding job however little experience is needed, a positive attitude and willingness to put in a hard day’s work.

1.5 Qualified Trades in Australia

The construction industry (which includes carpenters and joiners, electricians, plumbers, builders, painters and decorators, concreters, and bricklayers) employs over 1.3 Million people in Australia. There is, however, a labour shortage of skilled tradespeople, making this a highly accessible industry for working holidaymakers.

The flexible and often short-term nature of such work (i.e. contract and temporary work) is very convenient for those looking to make the most out of their six-month work stints on their working holiday maker visa. I have seen many trades listed on the Australian Government’s Occupations in Demand list making skilled migration or employer-sponsored migration very possible.

This is a regionally diverse industry, with opportunities in both metropolitan and regional areas. Around 40% of construction jobs are outside state capital cities, with the majority of work being in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.

Qualified tradespeople in Australia are paid very well with wages ranging from $37 to over $100 per hour depending on the type of work. There are also excellent penalty rates for working evenings and weekends.

1.6 Painter

Painting is also considered a construction job even though it is generally a lot less physical than most construction jobs.

Painting has become a popular profession in more recent times amongst backpackers and temporary visa holders as it provides a pathway to residency. Painting is listed on the temporary skilled shortage list and there is a high demand for painters at present.

Painting does not generally require much or any experience and most of the training is provided on the job site. Because of the high demand for painters at present, you are likely to be employed even if you have no experience.

Tasks that a painter typically performs are sanding, painting walls, roofs, and exteriors of houses and buildings, preparing houses for painting, transporting supplies to the job site, and tidying up the job site.

This job can be rather dirty as you can imagine with all parts of your body and clothes likely to get covered in paint, wear some older clothes! Generally, painters are paid quite well $30-$50 AUD per hour depending on your experience.

1.7 Traffic Control

Although not generally considered construction by many, traffic control is an important part of any construction project keeping the roads and construction workers safe. Traffic Control can count as eligible visa days for getting your second year visa and third year visa extension.

Traffic control generally involves making the roads safe around a construction site and controlling vehicles entering and leaving the construction site as well as controlling traffic passing a construction site.

Generally, you will hold a stop/go sign and radio to the other team members when it is safe for vehicles to stop and pass the traffic.

Traffic controllers are well paid, earning over $50 per hour and upwards of $100 an hour when working at night or on weekends. However, one of the downsides of this job is irregular work though, many traffic controllers can work 70-hour weeks and then have a week or two (sometimes more) with limited or no work. It can suit backpackers because you work hard for a short period then have a break and enjoy your surroundings or travel and return when there is work.

2. Where to Find Construction Jobs in Australia

Australia is a huge country therefore it is a good idea to know where to go if you are looking for a job in Construction.

Currently, there is good demand for the following construction jobs in all states across Australia:

I will give you details on the most popular construction cities where you have the best chance of finding work.

2.1 Melbourne

Melbourne is one of the most rapidly growing cities in Australia with new construction projects starting every day. You’ll come across loads of construction work in Melbourne. According to the City of Melbourne’s official website, forecasts indicate that by 2041, the population in the city is expected to double. To handle this growth, the Melbourne will need to build over 42,000 new homes. 

2.2 Perth

Perth is located on Australia’s west coast, is the biggest city in the state, and is considered one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia. The market is a bit smaller than Melbourne in terms of population, but it still has a positive outlook for construction. According to the Housing Industry Forecasting Group, demand for new homes is expected to keep surpassing the capacity of the residential construction market.

2.3 Sydney

Sydney being the largest city in Australia has the most opportunity for construction jobs. Given that the climate is a little warmer and drier than Melbourne there is likely to be more days throughout the year that you can work. There might be a recent decline in construction in Sydney according to the NSW government but it is anticipated to have an upward trend as external events such as Covid-19 subsides.Map of Australia with state names

2.4 Brisbane

Brisbane being the largest city in Queensland is also seeing a lot of construction growth with local Australians relocating from the colder states in the south to tropical Queensland seeing an increase in demand for houses. 

Queensland has a more tropical climate that receives less rain than the southern states so you will be able to work more days throughout the year without having the cold winter mornings.

2.4 Adelaide

Adelaide is an up-and-coming city that is increasing in population. This growth will drive demand for new housing, commercial facilities, and public infrastructure.

The city is a lot smaller in size than the other cities and has a harsher winter than Sydney and Melbourne however South Australia receives the least amount of rainfall per year.

2.5 Rest of Australia

Construction jobs are happening in every town and regional area of Australia. However, the general rule applies that the smaller the town the fewer projects that are happening. If you are inexperienced you may find it harder to work in smaller towns as there are limited work possibilities in other industries in small towns so generally a local will fill the role due to lack of other work opportunities. Also, the locals are aware many backpackers are only there for a short time so may not be willing to train you and have you leave shortly after.

3. Skills and Experience Required

There are many different jobs available in Construction in Australia each requiring different skills and experience. Let’s go through the most common types listed above and what you need to get a job.

3.1 White Card Australia

Regardless of whichever construction job you want to do you will need a White Card. A white card is issued once you have completed a training course for safe practices on a construction site in Australia. The course can be done easily online from a Registered Training Organization (RTO).

The idea behind the training is to provide safe practices and hazard identification on Construction sites in Australia.

The cost of the White Card ranges from $43 – $220 for an online course. See my detailed guide on how to get a white card in Australia.

3.2 Skilled Trade

To be a “tradie” in Australia you need to have the appropriate trade certificate that is recognised in the state you are in. If you are qualified overseas the following criteria are needed:

  • Recognition of prior learning – This process allows you to have your overseas skills and experience assessed through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in Queensland. Look up technical qualifications to find out more about RTOs
  • Professional organization membership – If you hold a post-trade overseas qualification (Diploma, Degree, etc.) and you are a member of a professional organization (RICS, CIOB, EA, etc. in Australia or overseas), you may meet the technical qualifications for a license.
  • Overseas trade assessment bodies – If you are still living overseas, a registered training organisation in your home country may be able to assess and recognise your qualification in certain trades. Find out which assessment body can recognise your trade.

3.3 Labourer

Labouring is the easiest job to obtain if you don’t have any experience, all you need is a white card, a physically fit body, and a positive attitude. If you would like to get paid more as a labourer you can obtain your working at heights certificate which will allow you to work on larger projects.

3.4 Demolition

You don’t need experience to get a job in demolition but you will mostly be working as a labourer. All you need is a white card, a physically fit body, and a positive attitude.

If you would like a career in demolition you can undertake a Certificate III in demolition and Certificate IV in Demolition to become a supervisor

3.5 Painting

Painting is a relatively simple job to obtain but well paid painters have experience. All you need is a white card, a physically fit body, and a positive attitude.

3.6 Traffic Control

To become a traffic controller you first need a White Card, once you have obtained a white card you need to complete a traffic controller course.

The RIIWHS205E course can be done in 7 hours to 3 days and costs between $149 – $1,500 depending on the provider you choose.

You don’t need any experience once you’ve obtained a certificate, as you gain experience though you will find it easier to find work.

4. How to Find a Job in Construction

Finding a job in construction can be challenging or very easy for some people. A lot of work is found using industry contacts and word of mouth. Sometimes if construction companies employ a backpacker who is a hard worker they often ask them if they have any friends who are interested in a job.

If you are new to the country and do not have any industry contacts yet here are some of the best ways to find a job.

Backpacker Survival Guide to Job Hunting in Australia Free Guide - Call to action

4.1 Recruitment Agencies

In specific construction recruitment agencies. They have a lot of industry contacts and help you to find a job. Simply sign up to their agency, highlight your experience, let them know you have a white card, and be patient. Sometimes they will find you a job straight away, sometimes it takes a little longer.

Here some popular construction recruitment agencies:

4.2 Job Boards

You can find these online and even at hostels, often if contractors need a backpacker for a few weeks or days they will post an ad on the board at a hostel knowing there are a lot of people looking for work.

Tip

Even if it is only a few days of work, put in your best effort, you never know what future projects your employer has lined up or industry contacts they can recommend you to. Sometimes they just promise a few days or a week's work to see if you are any good and will keep you on longer term or call you when needed if you work well.

4.2.1 Facebook Job Boards

Join the local construction jobs in your area Facebook page, often smaller contractors post ads on there to find workers.

4.3 Ask for Work

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a few companies in the area and ask for a job. You may get turned down a few times but eventually, you will find someone who needs workers. A phone call only takes a few minutes to make so you have nothing to lose.

Ask around in small towns when you arrive seeing if people know of anyone needing workers. Put your name out there, accept any job to start with to grow your network, add to your resume and skill set, and get better work in the future.

I have learned a lot from my experience of finding a job, and I want to share it with you. On our Essentials to Find a Job in Australia page, you can find more helpful advice on how to land your dream job in this amazing country.

5. Final Thoughts

No matter which construction job you do you will earn great money and possibly work towards your eligible visa days. Getting a job quickly and easily will allow you more time and money to enjoy traveling around the great country of Australia. 

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