Everything you need to know about getting a working holiday job in Australia
You’ve decided to break up with your home life and go travelling (welcome, great to have you here), you’ve got your Australia working holiday visa, and you’ve abandoned all notion of shoes for a year. The hard bit is done, right? From here it’s just details: who to invite to your leaving party (everyone, there may be cash gifts in your leaving cards), and how much stuff to pack (pile it on your bed, half it, and half it again).
But beneath that free and easy ‘I’m going travelling’ confidence, something is niggling at you. You’ve got the working holiday fear. And the fear is shouting, ‘What if I can’t find a job?’
Let us reassure you.
1. Due to the pandemic and a significant drop in immigration, there are heaps of jobs available right now in Australia. This article will tell you how much you can earn, what types of jobs are out there, and the best way to land one – either before you go or when you arrive.
2. The fear is normal. Moving halfway around the planet might be one of the most exciting things in the world, but it can also be one of the scariest. So if you need help finding your feet, finding a place, finding a date (joking, maybe), then we can also help with that.
Here’s the need to know before you go.
How long can I work for
For most nationalities, an Australia working holiday allows you to work for up to 12 months - changing employers every six months. Post pandemic, this six-month rule was relaxed to allow you to work for the same employer for the full 12 months (if arriving before 31 Dec 2022). Assuming it will revert back in 2023, let’s focus on that. On face value, changing employers every six months may sound like a curse, but in reality, it can be a gift.
Iconic cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are like blackholes for working holidaymakers. A whirlwind of well-paying jobs, after-work drinks and weekend brunches that mean travellers never want to leave – finding themselves back at the airport 12 months later, dazed and confused about what the hell happened to their Aussie travel plans. Clue: bottomless brunch happened. Every Saturday. 52 times.
We’ve been there, and it was awesome. But the six-month rule encourages you to explore new places and positions. You’ve got a long time to do the regular 9-5 thing back at home, so go work outdoors on a farm or on an island for a few months. Working holidays aren’t about living a little, they’re about living a lot.
How do I get a second visa
Which leads us conveniently onto regional work and second working holiday visas (subclass 417 visa). Working in Australia is often seen as a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and for many of our travellers, it is – with them choosing to take their newfound life skills, work experience and impressive tans and return home to find a job.
But if like Dorothy you want the option of returning to Oz on a second working holiday visa, you’ll need to do at least three months' work in regional Australia during your first visa.
This doesn’t have to mean fruit picking, packing or agricultural work. (Although if you want to save money, make a heap of new friends and see a more authentic side of Australia, then we can't recommend it enough). It could mean doing more ‘typical’ backpacker roles such as working as a server, a chef or a labourer – but in a government specified area outside the bigger cities, which can include coastal communities, the Outback and national parks. Which is only ever going to be a massive win in our eyes. Find out more on our visa page.
How much can I earn
We often hear from our community that working in Australia doesn’t seem affordable. And we get it – the flights and support funds you need to get over to Oz can be a major upfront cost. However, you can earn really great money as a working holidaymaker in Australia. The minimum wage is high – AUD $20.33 (£11.50)* an hour – and in most roles you can expect to earn more, with some hospitality positions paying double that.
Plus, you’re not tied to just doing casual jobs working in retail, sales, tourism, construction, farming and more on your visa. If you have a trade or want to do more career-related work, you can apply for jobs as any Aussie would – earning the same salary working in marketing, design, recruitment, finance, IT, property and more.
Quick working holiday hack... If you want to get even more dollars in the bank, check out doing your working holiday in Western Australia. Currently, the Western Australian government will pay you up to $500 AUD towards you travel expenses and up to $40 a night towards you accommodation for six weeks – just for doing part of your visa in regional Western Australia. Which in total, is equivalent to around £1000 GBP.**
How do I find a job before I go
If you want the reassurance of knowing you have a job before you arrive in Australia (slash, don’t want the hassle of spending your first couple of weeks looking for work when you could be on a beach somewhere ‘finding your feet’ – hint, they’re in the sand), then check out our next free virtual Australia job fair on the 25-29 Jul 2022.
We have access to hundreds of pre-vetted jobs across Australia, with tried-and-trusted employers who are used to taking on backpackers for casual work. All you need to do is sign up, upload your CV, search for jobs, apply online, and interview via video. Job done. We’ll even send you CV and interview tips.
Getting a job secured before you go can help with anxiety over money and meeting people – making that 20+ hour flight over there a lot less nerve wracking.
How do I find a job when I arrive
If you’d rather leave getting a job until you land, then our Work Australia packages include 1-on-1 job support, 12 months’ access to our work database, and accommodation and trips to help get you set up with everything you need.
Most of our travellers tend to find work in the first couple of weeks, often living in house or flat shares with people they met that week. Like Ella, who found a job in her first two weeks and ended up staying in Australia for two years.
How not to overthink it
Our mantra is: we travel to work, not work to travel. And we’ve never really understood why there’s a pressure to either focus on your career or choose to go travelling.
Every new country you visit and culture you encounter will help shape who you are and how you see the world. And any job that you do will not only add experience and skills to your CV, but will show employers you are tolerant, versatile and adaptable – confident to try new things and be pushed out of your comfort zone.
So before you turn down a job thinking it’s not going to benefit your career, be open-minded as to how it could shape your overall experience and employability. And how it can put the ‘holiday’ as well as the ‘work’ into working holiday.
And finally, you’re not alone
Any kind of travel fear – job related or otherwise – is expected. Selling all your clothes on Depop and leaving your friends and family to move to a new country can be intimidating. But what we can guarantee you before you decide to jump ship, is that there will be a bunch of people in the same boat as you. Speak to our team about our Work Australia arrival support weeks, where you’ll be with other travellers starting their working holiday visas at the same time as you. Plus, all our team have worked abroad, so are on hand to give advice.
Some important stuff
* Currency conversion correct as of 30 Jun 2022. AUD-GBP 0.5677.
** Western Australia Paid Escape Terms & Conditions apply and is only open to eligible candidates. Please see here for more.