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Hospitality Jobs in Australia

Female backpacker working behind the bar counter with the text Jobs in Hospitality Backpacker's GuideThe Hospitality industry in Australia is huge; it accounts for nearly 1 in every 20 jobs in Australia.

Hospitality jobs not only easy to find but also fun and social and it can qualify for the required visa days for second year or third year working holiday visas. It also pays very well in Australia.

That’s why working in Hospitality a popular choice amongst backpackers.

In this guide, I will provide you everything you need to know with resources you’ll need to be able to get a job easily.

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1. Overview of Hospitality Jobs in Australia

Australia has an excellent restaurant and cafe culture, Aussies love to socialize and spend time eating and drinking outside their home. This has created a huge Hospitality Industry in Australia with new restaurants and Bars and restaurants opening every few months.

The Hospitality Industry typically has a high turnover of staff meaning there are always businesses that are always looking for staff.

Great Perks of Hospitality

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Very Fun & Social – Hospitality workers usually get Mondays & Tuesdays off as this is a slow day for most businesses and many bars offer hospitality (hospo) discounts these days and it is a great socializing culture with other hospo workers from the area.

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High pay rates for working in the evenings and weekends.

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Counts towards Visa Days (Subclass 417 & 462) – Hospitality work can count towards your eligible 88 days or 179 for your second and third year visa if you are on a subclass 417 or 462 visa. However, you will need to get a Hospitality job in Northern & Regional areas of Australia see our Second Year Visa article for more information.

“Working in hospitality is always a good start, especially if you want to get better with the English language.“

2. Most Common Hospitality Jobs

The term Hospitality (or Hospo) In Australia covers a broad range of jobs that are involved in the service of customers in a food or beverage setting. Often referred to as the service industry in other countries.

There are many Hospitality Jobs in Australia but here are the most common:

Bartender – Australians love to socialize over drinks and every town in Australia no matter the size will have a Bar. Thus, making Bartending one of the most common hospitality jobs. To work in a Bar you will need an RSA certificate, which we will cover more in section 6. Even with no experience you can get a job as a bar back doing glasses and restocking and will often receive training at the bar and work your way up.

Wait Staff – Wait staff are always in demand in Australia. You will need a reasonable level of English as you will be talking to customers all day. If you have little experience or English you can start as a food runner and work your way up to a waiter/waitress.

Dishwasher – As the name sounds you will be washing dishes from the customers and chefs. This job is the most in-demand job in Hospitality and it is a very easy job to get; although it is not the most glamorous. Smaller restaurants will often get you to also be a Kitchen Hand as well as a dishwasher which usually involves preparations of basic menu items such as salads and side dishes. Usually no customer interaction.

Kitchen Hand – Entry-level position in the kitchen assisting the chefs with basic food preparation tasks. In a cafe, you would often make sandwiches and wraps and basic breakfast and lunch items. Good for someone with limited chef experience.

Barista – Aussies love good coffee and there are cafes everywhere! A Barista in Australia makes coffee and serves customers over the counter. If you love early starts and finishing early then this is a good job for you. Typical cafe hours are 6 am – 3 pm very few cafes in Australia stay open after 5 pm. You can do a barista course relatively cheaply to learn how to make coffee.

Chef & Cook – There is a huge range of levels for this position. From making pizzas, burgers, and fast food takeaways to fine dining restaurants. You will often need qualifications or experience to work in a restaurant.

Backpacker Survival Guide to Job Hunting in Australia Ebook preview

3. Employment Types

The Hospitality industry works a little differently from other countries especially if you’re from Europe and especially North America. In Australia, you receive a wage or salary and there are different contract types that could be offered when you start working. We have covered them in more detail below to help you know the difference when accepting a job.

3.1 Casual Employment

This is the most common type of employment for the Hospitality Industry. A casual employee does not have a fixed number of hours required by law. The business can give you as few or as many hours as required (depending on how busy it is).

Benefits

Downsides

3.2 Part-time Employment

This is less common than casual but more common than full-time contracts. Full-time in Australia is 38 hours per week so part-time is anything less than 38 hours per week. You are a contracted employee and need to give a specific notice period usually 2 – 4 weeks if you want to leave.

Benefits

Downsides

3.3 Full-time Employment

This is less common than casual and part-time contracts if you are backpacking. Full time in Australia is 38 hours and the contracts are very similar to part-time contracts but with more hours and usually a salary. You are a contracted employee and need to give a specific notice period usually 2 – 4 weeks if you want to leave.

Benefits

Downsides

Please note: When signing a contract in Australia make sure you read it first and have a friend or professional look at it if you’re not aware of the normal terms and conditions that apply in Australia.

4. Pay Rates for Hospitality

Hospitality offers great pay rates especially for casual. We provide a brief summary of the pay rates for the most popular jobs in Hospitality.

We provide a range of pay rates below as of January 2024. Please note these rates are a guide only we have included the 25% casual loading as most employment in hospitality is casual.

Job Description Weekday Pay Per Hour (Casual) Weekend Rates per Hour (Casual) Public Holidays (Casual)
Food & Beverage Attendant (Intro – Level 2) Waiter, Bar Staff, Food Runner $27.57 – $30.95 $33.59 – $42.97 $55.14 – $61.98
Food & Beverage Supervisor (Level 4 – 6) $32.73 – $35.71 $38.75 – $47.72 $67.46 – $71.42
Qualified Chef (Level 4-6) $32.73 – $35.71 $38.75 – $47.72 $67.46 – $71.42
Dishwasher $21 – $27.57 $28.26 – 33.59 $50 – $55.14
Barista $27.57 – $30.95 $33.59 – $42.97 $55.14 – $61.98

As you can see from the table above the pay rates are very high for Hospitality in Australia compared to other places in the world. Especially if you work on the weekends or public holidays.

If you are working part or full time you will need to deduct 25% off the above pay rates per hour as you receive paid annual leave and sick pay instead so are paid a lower rate.

For more information about pay rates and penalties see the Fairwork Australia Award Calcluator.

4.1 Tipping in Australia

Working in hospitality also has the benefit of receiving tips. There are no compulsory tipping or built-in service charges in Australia, although tipping for good service is becoming more common in restaurants in the bigger cities. Satisfied customers will leave around 10% of the bill or more. This does vary a lot depending on the restaurant.

Tips usually go into a pool and the wait staff who received the tip gets a bigger proportion with the remainder getting split between the floor staff (runners) and bartenders. Every restaurant has a different system though, be sure to ask when you’re looking for a job.

Some wait staff friends of mine who targeted the busier restaurants that were known to receive a lot of tips were regularly making more than $100 a week in tips. Great little bonus on top of your relatively high wages (but far less than you would receive in North America).

Tipping at bars is less common but customers will often leave small change, if your bar is part of the restaurant you will receive a share of the pooled tips. It is common to receive around $20-$100 a week in the cities depending on the venue. Tipping in smaller towns is less likely. 

5. How to Get a Job

Getting a job in Hospitality in Australia is a little different from other jobs. It is not common for hospitality businesses to advertise on big job search platforms such as Seek, Gumtree, etc. Here are the most common methods:

Looking for Staff Sign in the Window
Some businesses will put a sign up in the window saying they are looking for staff, if you see one of these stop and have a chat and drop off your resume.

An infographic on ways how to get a job in hospitality in Australia for backpackers

Facebook Pages
The most common way employers advertise is through Facebook pages. These are very easy to find just search the town or city you are looking for a job followed by Hospitality jobs, Bar jobs, etc, and add yourself to the various groups. There will be posts regularly from various businesses looking for workers.

Beat the Street
Australians are friendly people. A lot of people find jobs by walking into various businesses and handing in their resumes. It shows you are very interested in getting a job and they can see you and have a quick chat. Follow these tips when doing this:

  1. Create an easy-to-read Resume that shows your experience.
  2. Print out and take some to an area that you know has a lot of hospitality and restaurants and go into as many as you can.
  3. Try not to go at a busy time for example during peak Lunch hours 11 am – 1 pm, and Dinner hours 5-7 pm. They will be rushed off their feet and not give you much time to chat.
  4. Ask to speak to the manager. The staff member who you speak to may be friendly but probably has no control over the hiring process. By talking to the manager you will have a lot more success.
  5. If the manager isn’t there, ask when they will be in because you’d love to speak with them.
  6. If they say they aren’t hiring right now ask them do they know anywhere that is hiring, the hospitality workers are also socializing so they may know of somewhere that is hiring.

Following this method has worked for me and many others and I’ve had a job within a few days.

5.1 Unpaid Trials in Australia

Once you have had a response from an employer, it is possible for them to offer you to come for an unpaid trial as the first step. The trial usually lasts for 2-3 hours and is usually unpaid, you may be offered some food or a drink at the end of the trial but it depends on the place.

Once you have completed your trial you will usually have a quick chat with the manager or supervisor and they will tell you more about the job, the hours, the pay, and when you can start working. Sometimes they say they will give you a call to let you know if they are having a few people in for a trial. If you haven’t been contacted within a week give them a call to follow up.

5.2 Which places in Australia are best for Hospitality Jobs?

The bigger the city the more hospitality positions will be available. Cities such as Melbourne and Brisbane have a lot of bars, restaurants, and cafes, but you can also find hospitality work in smaller towns especially the tourist towns, especially during the peak season.

In the winter in Australia, a lot of travellers go north to Darwin, Cairns, and northern parts of Australia because this is the most popular time for tourism in these parts as the weather is warmer than the rest of Australia. The ski areas are also busy.

In summer there are opportunities everywhere but the larger cities and tourist towns are a better bet.

5.3 When is the Best Time of Year to get a Hospitality Job in Australia?

It depends on where you are looking for Hospitality Jobs but in general summer in most parts of Australia is the busiest time of the year. Summers are always busy because the weather is warm, people are finished work for the year, school kids and universities are on holiday, and Christmas and New Year’s fall over this period.

Winter is generally a quieter time of year for hospitality with more people opting to stay home or go home early if they do go out. However, in the north of Australia, Darwin, Cairns, North Queensland, and northern parts of Australia it is their busiest time with Australian tourists from the south heading north to escape the cold weather.

6. Helpful Training

There are a few training courses that you can do that will greatly increase your chances of getting a job.

6.1 Barista Training Course

If you have never made coffee before this is a great course to do. It is relatively cheap and doesn’t take long to complete. Even if you don’t want to be a barista, some bars and restaurants serve coffee so it looks better on your resume if you have done a training course.

6.2 Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)

This is mandatory if you want to work in a bar or as wait staff in a restaurant that serves alcohol regardless of any experience you have. We have created a complete guide that has everything you need to know to get your RSA easily and affordably.

6.3 Responsible Service Gambling (RSG)

This is useful if you want to work in a bar or gaming lounge that offers gambling services (slot machines, pokies). It is not essential if you want to work at a regular bar but can be useful. We have created a Complete Guide that has everything you need to know to get your RSG easily and affordably.

7. Hospitality Jobs that Offer Visa Sponsorship

If you want to stay longer in Australia and work toward getting permanent residency then a sponsorship job is one of the most popular ways. The jobs that are currently available for sponsorship are:

  • Qualified Chef – this is a common option for many backpackers
  • Venue Manager – Hospitality – The venue has to turn over more than $1,000,000 AUD annual revenue.

We have created a very thorough guide on sponsorship jobs in Australia including great tips and tricks to get your sponsorship easier.

8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You need to have a visa that allows you to work in Australia. 

It depends on what type of work and environment you enjoy working in. To make the most money working at an upmarket restaurant in a bigger city you will receive a lot of tips.

Yes of course you can. The great thing about hospitality is a lot of it is common sense. Taking orders, running food, and pouring drinks is mostly common sense so it’s very easy to learn.

Depends on your experience and time of the year. If you are in peak season and experienced you would have a job by the next day.

Looking for hiring signs on shop windows is one of the common ways backpackers find work in hospitality in Australia. However, Facebook groups are an excellent option as well.

The Hospitality industry accounts for nearly 1 in every 20 jobs in Australia. It’s in demand, often quite easy to find, and can count toward eligible visa days.

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