How You Can Work For A Year In Australia And Make Bank

Did you know that the average pay for backpackers in Australia is $20 aud an hour?! With that you’ll be able to pay for rent in the city, bills, going out, and save while working a cafe job or even retail. WHILE LIVING IN ANOTHER COUNTRY! Did I say you would living in another country? You will be getting out into the world, and not only exploring another country, but actually living and experiencing a new culture like the badass you are.


Let me just tell you that while I lived in Australia, I worked as a waitress in a touristy part of Melbourne making $25 aud per hour weekday and $30 weekend (not to mention they pay $50 on holidays and Australia has a lot of holidays). With that I was able to pay for a beautiful modern apartment in the city with my own bathroom and one roommate, bills, groceries, going out (rarely, but I did), AND I was able to save $500aud a month. Oh yea, and my boyfriend wasn’t working for the first 2 months so I paid for him too…and saved. The living wage here is AMAZING.


My boyfriend eventually got his White Card (short online class needed to work in construction, about $50) and was making more than me!


So..there are a couple requirements before you can apply for your working- holiday visa, and start having the time of your life while making good money. (There many be some slight changes depending which country your passport is from, just check out Australian Department of Home Affairs Website.


  1. You must be between the age of 18 and 31
  2. You cannot have a dependent child with you in Australia at any time
  3. Have a passport (duh)



Now, when you get to Australia, there are a few things you’ll have to check off before you can get a job and get paid.



  •  Get an Australian phone number. Telstra and Vodafone are the most popular options. Telstra gives you a better signal in more places, but Vodafone is cheaper. You decide.
  • Apply for a Tax File Number (aka TFN). Unless you are getting paid cash-in-hand- or under-the-table you cannot get your pay check without this. You can apply here.
  • Find accommodations. I recommend doing this before finding a job because, in my opinion, it’s harder to find a good flat than a job. After you can pass out your CV to places around where you work and make your commute super easy. I had so many tips to give on this that I had to create a separate blog post. Check out “Finding The Perfect Place To Live In Australia” coming soon.
  • Create a CV (also known as a resume). The best part is that no one wants to call *whatever country you are from* to ask for a reference! I don’t want to say you can lie.. but you can totally lie. Just.. you know.. be a little realistic. Don’t just drop in there that you’ve been bartending for 5 years when you’ve got no idea how to make a gin and tonic. Buttt you could turn that summer hostessing job into 1 year serving. Just don’t forget you need a cover page, and a written reference wouldn’t hurt.
  • Depending on the job you’re looking for, you might need some sort of certificate. For any kind of alcohol service you need an RSA certificate (Responsible Service of Alcohol, about $30aud). Construction, you need a White Card. There’s even a barista certificate and gaming certificate (needed at any gambling venue). Just do a bit of research, but most certificates are very affordable and easy to get.



Getting The Job

There are two ways to go about this 1) online 2) walking around and passing out your CV. I got a great job in the area close to where I live by just taking the tram to the closest touristic place and passing out CVs.I got so many job offers this way. However, I know other people had better luck online. Indeed and Seek are popular job searching websites.


Trial Day

I had never heard about this until coming to Australia, but before formally being offered a job, they will most-likely call you in for a “trial day”. You just go and work for about 4-6 hours (un-paid) and they get to see how well you work, plus you get to see if you like working there also. Technically, they are not allowed to have you work and not pay you, but it is so common in the service industry there isn’t really a way to get around it if you want a job.

Now, there have been way too many stories about places taking advantage of backpackers and not paying them. They should offer you a job at the end of your trial AND give you paperwork to file your TFN and Superannuation info. If they don’t then get the hell outta there. If they say it’s cash-in-hand (aka under-the-table) they should be paying you after every shift. Don’t do a second trial day unless there is a good reason, and definitely don’t do a third trial day.  Tell them you will report them to Fair Work (Australian governing body over this kind of stuff) and demand the money for your time.


Second Year Working-Holiday Visa

You can apply for a second year as long as you complete 90 days of farm work. Farm work can include picking fruit and veggies, making wine, taking care of horses, or even construction work. Where you do your farm work, and what is considered farm work, depends on your visa. If you are American, like me, you have to complete your farm work in the Northern territory, no idea why.. that’s just what it says.



*The visa does costs around $400 Australian dollars, but we can tackle that in my blog post “Finding The Money To Travel” coming soon.

* Your second year does not have to be right after your first year. You can easily go traveling or go home and come back to work for a second year. But if you take time in between your first and second year visa, you have to apply out of the country and it could take up to 3 months to be approved.

*When choosing a Superannuation, just choose your employers and keep the info so if/when you get another job you can have it all put into the same account.

*One of the requirements of the visa is that you cannot work for the same employer for more than 6 months.

*Timing is very essential. If you come around October/ November time you will have a much better chance as a lot of places are looking to double up their staff for the holiday rush. And in reverse, during Australian winter (when the tourism dies down) it will be a bit more difficult.

*You have to be outside of the country when you apply. But don’t worry, I haven’t met anyone yet where their visa has taken longer than 3 days to get approved.

*Check out what you can expect to make based on what kind of job you will be looking for here.

*When you leave the country, you will be receiving some of the money you paid in taxes (automatically taken out in your paycheck) and the money your employer paid into a  Superannuation fund (like a retirement account). Unless you get paid in cash, you will receive this beautiful pot of gold when you leave. The amount of money you get back is dependent upon how much you worked, the amount of taxes you paid, and how much your employer contributed to your Superannuation. You can easily expect between $500 and $1,000 if you worked full-time.




I will try to keep the visa info as up-to-date as possible, but please check the Australian Home Affairs Website for any changes. 


What are you waiting for? Sell everything that won’t fit into a backpack, and get your butt to Australia!

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