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There are plenty of jobs available as a backpacker in Australia. Remember you will have to be on a Working Holiday Visa and not just backpacking around Australia. The Working Holiday Visa entitles you to work in one job for up to 6 months – A great chance to save money, meet friends, then explore the wonders that Australia has to offer.
Whilst finding a job might not be a concern in the first few weeks or even months, many a backpacker will discover that when the time comes there are plenty of options.
Signing up with an agency is many people’s first step. The routine here is that you register – sometimes undertaking some simple safety tests – and specify your area of interest. The agency will then contact you when a job in that area becomes available. Make sure your CV (resume) is updated and your latest employment and job details are included.
Hostel notice boards can be a rich vein of information and contacts when it comes to looking for work. A Jobs board is not uncommon in the bigger backpacker hostels and definately worth keeping an eye on. Listen to your fellow backpackers too, as many will be a couple of months ahead of you in their adventure – they might have some inside knowledge and tell you how they found their job!
Changes in recent years mean backpackers are now allowed to work for one employer for a maximum of six months – and added bonus if you plan to stay in one place for a longer stretch and apply for contract work.
There are a couple of traditional jobs in the backpacker community, with the availability of each depending on individual circumstances. Below are some of the things that you can expect.
What sort of jobs can I expect as a backpacker in Australia?
Office-based work, like administration and call centre/sales jobs, are quite easy to get hold of, as are positions teaching English. to foreign students. Having a trade, like being a builder, electrician, nurse or hairdresser, will also be handy and will strengthen your chances of finding work. If you fancy mixing with other travellers 24/7, you may also be able to find work in the hostels themselves, usually doing things like cleaning up, or changing bed-sheets. Reception work also becomes available from time to time.
Another way of earning cash while enjoying Australia is by doing harvest work, like fruit picking. It is available all year round in many states, although you will probably find yourself out in the sticks in most cases. It can be difficult work and it’s not for the faint hearted. You’ll also need to check what is in season and where.
There is a rather attractive prize for doing these types of jobs. If you work for three months (approximately 88 days) in one place you will be eligible to apply for a second Working Holiday Visa.
Of course if you’d prefer to stay in cities – bars, cafes and restaurants are ubiquitous and work is readily available. Many hospitality companies prefer employing backpackers as they can add an international flair to their establishment. Although having experience will be of benefit, in New South Wales and Victoria, having a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate is compulsory (costs about $85).
Typical backpacker jobs in Australia & Pay rate guides
(Note: These are approximations and shouldn’t be taken as gospel)
Bar/restaurants: around $13-18 an hour.
Admin work/call centres: around $14-21 an hour.
Legal support: around $21-26 an hour.
Teaching English: around $20-25 an hour.
Nannying: around $14-20 an hour.
Fruit picking: around $10-20 a basket.
Trade work: around $16-30 an hour.
Accounting: around $17-30 an hour.
IT: around $20-40 an hour.
Insurance underwriters: around $22-28 an hour.
Labouring: around $16-21 an hour.
As mentioned previously, as a backpacker in Australia, one of the best ways of discovering the country is to find jobs in regional Australia. Working in a job for 3 months will entitle you to a one year extension on your Working Holiday Visa.
The government’s official website (www.jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail) lets you know where and when you can find fruit picking work.
For general job vacancies www.mycareer.com.au and www.seek.com.au are good places to look, as is the free weekly BBM magazine (which is also available online at www.bbmlive.com ). BBM is a backpacker magazine with a large jobs section and a great way of keeping up to date with the world whilst you are on your travels.
City newspapers – The Telegraph and Herald in Sydney, the West Australian in Perth, and The Age and Herald Sun in Melbourne – should also be scanned through.
Notice boards in backpacker hostels are definately worth looking at as well – jobs are often posted on job boards in the major backpacker hostels across Australia.
Signing on at a recruitment company could put you first in line for a number of jobs. Make sure you tell them all the skills you have, and how even although you are a backpacker in Australia, your past experience will be make you the best person for the jobs they offer you. Some employers prefer to offer backpackers jobs as they often are able to offer more flexibility than an Australian resident.
And the old-fashioned way glancing in shop windows or asking face-to-face – certainly won’t do you any harm either.
Before you get your job you will need a Tax File Number (TFN) to work in Australia so you can have the privilege of paying income tax. For the first $21,601 you earn, you will be deducted 29%, with another one per cent being added on to the deductions between $21,601 and $52,000. However, the good news is you may be eligible to claim the tax back when you return home and there are several firms specialising in helping you achieve this.
A typical backpacker tax refund is $2500 (according to Taxback.com).