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Ok, ok you’ll never become rich but making a truck load of cash without going through the drama and expense of getting a degree. I’d say that’s around 90% of peoples dream. There are many different entry level jobs out there, most pay minimum or just over minimum wage but then there are a few exceptions to the rule…
For anyone that has been on this blog before you’ll probably understand it’s written from the perspective of a backpacker travelling around Australia on a working holiday visa, hence the reason I’m writing about “entry level jobs”.
In Australia it doesn’t matter what qualifications/ career you had in your home country, once you step foot on Australian soil, you’ve got nothing!! Me being a fully time served electrician back in the UK, I thought “yeh i’ll just turn up, fire my crappy CV round a few contractors and, what’s the going rate for a sparky $35-50ph!? Yeh i’ll have some of that action”. Again, for you people that have landed on this blog before, you’ll know that I can be a bit foolish and naive. Why should this be any different!?
Without getting your qualifications recognised, those certificates you spent 5 years+ aquiring…. Worthless!! Seen as we can’t carry on our careers we left behind, what are your options??
So what are the best entry level jobs!?
Roadhouse “allrounder” – a.k.a burger flipper!
As far as entry level jobs go this may not be the most glamourous but probably one of the more plentiful in opportunities.
Gumtree is the place to find roadhouse jobs.
What is a roadhouse? – A roadhouse is basically a service station out in the “asshole of nowhere”. Usually they’ll have, motel-like accommodation attached, quite often a bar/restaurant too. Frequented by long haul wagon drivers looking for a hot meal and a good bed before setting off again at first light the next morning.
What will I be doing? – Most of the jobs for roadhouses are advertised as allrounders. In a nutshell you’ll be expected to do everything from flipping burgers in the cafe, serving on the till in the petrol station, making beds in the motel, to general maintenance i.e. Fixing broken fittings in motel rooms, cutting the grass around the grounds and just whatever needs doing.
What do I need to get work in a roadhouse? – To work in a road house, the odds are it’ll have a bar/restaurant attached, maybe even some “pokies” so you’ll need your RSA and RSG certificates to be in with a chance.
Obviously, experience in a kitchen, grounds maintenance or bar work will be of a benefit but generally, employers are happy to train you up as long as you can commit to at least 3 months or more.
So what do I get in return? – In return you’ll get between $23-30ph + OT rates for up to 60 hours per week with 90% of the time free accommodation and free food.
So what’s the down side? – The down sides are: Well, working in a kitchen flipping burgers all day with free food, you could enter looking like Mo Farrah and come out resembling a three-bed semi.
On a serious note, if you go for a smaller roadhouse it’s likely they’ll only need one or two workers so the isolation can be pretty bad. Also, because of the remote locations, there won’t be much to do in your down time.
Traffic “mush” – a.k.a lollipop twizzler!
Think carefully before taking one of these entry level jobs, I don’t know if i could handle it but for the person that can, some good opportunities to be had.
Check out Indeed and all usual jobs sites to find “traffic controller” jobs.
What is a traffic mush? – To be honest it’s advertised as “traffic controller”. In this role you’ll spend the vast majority of your time out in regional Australia working on the roadworks.
What will I be doing? – To be blunt, holding a start/stop lollipop sign. A traffic controller is resposible for helping set up roadwork signage, work site maintainance but mainly you’ll be one stood at each end of the roadworks with a walkie-talkie, directing traffic using a stop/start “lollipop”.
So what do I need to be a traffic controller? – To be a traffic controller, the minimum you’ll need a level 1 traffic control ticket and ideally a “MR licence” (rigid lorry to you and me) will help you out massively.
So what do I get in return? – In return you’ll get $25-35ph + OT rates, free accommodation. This is where if you want to stay in Australia permanently being a traffic controller can really be the best option. Road work companies struggle to fill vacancies for traffic controllers because a lot of people take the job but don’t realise how tough something so simple can be and walk out. It’s well known among backpackers that if you want citizenship, become a traffic controller, work your arse off and there’s a good chance you’ll be offered sponsorship. This way the company gets you to work in that role for the next few years and you get citizenship. Everyone’s a winner!!
So what’s the down side? – Right where do I start!? 12 hours stood in the sun on a 40c summer day!? Ok, if you’re lucky you might get a sun lounger to sit on if it’s a quiet road with not much traffic.
Sheer bordem!! Having to smile and wave at every single car that drives past. They’ve got to be told to do this, either that or they’re just the jolliest people I’ve ever seen.
Avoiding the snakes as they come out in the mornings to bask on the tarmack is one thing but avoiding the flys is just an imposibility!! Anywhere you go in outback Australia, especially in the summer time you’re guaranteed to be bombarded by millions, ok maybe not millions but certainly hundreds of pesky flys.
The flys can be so bad! The females are looking for protein to produce eggs, unfortunately for us, our sweat, eyes, nose, ears and mouth are all a good source of protein for a fly. Soon as the sun comes up, they’re on you, absolutely relentless they are.
Getting on “the mines” – who doesn’t want to go gold mining!?
Hands down just about the best paid of all entry level jobs out there. Land yourself a job on the mines and you’ve hit the motherlode!!!
To find work on the mines can be pretty tricky. Ideally be based in Perth and head down to Hays Recruitment in the city centre armed with a quality CV. Otherwise, networking! Stay in the hostels in Perth and get yourself about, in the two weeks I was there I met 7-8 people with jobs on the mines. I also saw 2 people get jobs on the mines through people they knew, so as with many things in Australia, networking is key!!
What are the entry level jobs on a mine site? – There are a few entry level jobs available on mine sites in Australia, ranging from site labourer to cook or cleaner.
What will I be doing? – Large working mines have their own infrastructure and are self contained cities. Pretty much every job in any normal city will be a job on the mine site.
You could be cleaning the staff accommodation, cooking food in the canteen, even driving the dumptrucks. Periodically, parts of the mines are shut down for routine maintenance and refurbishment, this creates a great opportunity to find really well paid work. The mines being shut down means no production, which in turn means massive cost. To keep the mine down-time to an absolute minimum, maintainance is done mob-handed, working long hours 7 days a week, get a job on a “shutdown” and you’ll be rolling in cash.
What do I need to get a job on the mines? – To get one of these entry level jobs on the mines, depending on what sector you’d like to enter into means wether you’ll need to get some “tickets” or not. White card, dumptruck licence, excavator licence etc. may strenghten your chances of getting work on the mines. Spending $1000+ on tickets without any sign of a job is a bit of a risk but land that job and you’ll recoup the money in your first 4 days.
So what do I get in return? – In return you get quite a few perks, first off being wages. I met a lady called Sarah who had been working the mines as a cleaner for 4 months prior, earning upwards of $2500 per week, a labourer earning $3000 a week and heard stories of if you had your trade qualifications recognised in Australia, then you could expect $4000+ per week!
Get a chance of working on the Kalgoorlie super pit.
There are various shift patterns but the one I heard a lot of people doing was “4 on, 2 off”. So you work 4 weeks and then given 2 weeks off. 2 weeks on holiday after every 4 weeks at work!? Sounds like the promised land to me!!
Seen as the mines are located in very remote areas the norm is to “fly in and fly out”. The mines have their own airstrips and even Perth international airport has a separate terminal for mine staff. Some companies will even fly you in and out from any airport in Australia.
So what are the down sides? – Down sides? Getting paid that kind of money, with that much time off and your worried about down sides!?
Only thing that I can think of is that most companies operate on a 12 hour shift 7 days a week, a price worth paying if you ask me!
Drug and alcohol tests – Australian employers love ’em!
Surprising to me and many people I met along my travels but Australian employers love a good drug and alcohol test. I’m sure you can understand why when we’re talking about the mine (every single shift) and traffic controller jobs but the burger flipper!?
While in Kununarra, one of the lads in the hostel had just landed himself one of the entry level jobs pot washing for 3 hours every evening. Even he had to have a drug and alcohol test… For washing leftover lasagne off of a plate? Has the world gone mad? I wonder if it’s incase that half a spliff Freddie had a week ago is now making him feel the need to know what that bottle of bleach tastes like???
There you have it, some of, if not the 3 best entry level jobs for saving lots of money as a backpacker in Australia. 6 months in any one of these jobs and you could walk away with some considerable money to continue your travels. Just remember if you’ve been to the Nimbin celebrating the Mardi Grass festival in the last 2-3 months then you may need to borrow someone else’s pee 😉
If anyone has any other good job experiences to share, fill that comments box…