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Friday 14th June 2024

Money must-knows before getting a job in Australia 

Sophie King shares key tips and insights for anyone looking to land a job in Australia while traveling as a backpacker

How to get a job in Australia


Most backpackers who come to Australia will find themselves working at some point. Some fly out with very little money and get work right away before travelling around, others transfer from a job back home, while others travel first and then get a job after a couple of months. 

I did the latter, travelling round first before settling in Sydney. I managed to get a job within two weeks of trying. It was the only one who came back to me out of about 60 applications. 

This role required me to get a police check. Despite having one in the UK I needed to get one in Australia as well. It cost me $50. I luckily hadn’t run out of all of my money, but it reminded me of the extra costs you might need to make before starting work. 

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Australia is one of the safest places I have ever been to, and I think a large part of that is because of how regulated it is. But if you’re someone looking for a job, the rules and regulations might come as a bit of a pain at first, because it usually means paying for a course.

Read more from Sophie King on Mouthy Money

If you’re travelling around Australia (or elsewhere) before you plan on getting a job make sure you’ve considered the added costs before landing yourself a role.

Once you have these, or the ones required for the job you’re after, it should be really easy to get a role. Just make sure you’ve given yourself the time and money to get them.

Here’s some of the extras you might need to get before getting a job

RSA – up to $124 (£65 ish)

In order to serve alcohol, you’ll need an RSA (Responsible Service for Alcohol) license. The cost varies depending on the company you use and the state you’re in.

Many backpackers have been scammed by fake websites so make sure you’ve chosen a legitimate company. If you’re staying in a hostel they’ll usually have information on which firms to use. You can do the RSA online, over the phone or in person.

Police check – $49:90 (£25 ish)

You might need to get a police check before starting a job, or they might require you to get one within the first couple of shifts. In my job, my UK police check didn’t count so I needed to go through the New South Wales system to get a valid check.

White Card – up to $350 (£165 ish)

If you’re wanting to work in construction, then you’ll need a white card. Like the RSA, these vary from state to state and you’ll need to get the appropriate one for each location. In Queensland a white card can cost up to $350 but in New South Wales, it might cost you only $120.

Traffic Control Card – up to $600 (£300 ish)

Many backpackers become a traffic controller as the hours are long and it pays well. But in order to become one, you’ll need to complete a course. Depending on where you’re working and the type of course you do, you could be paying anywhere up to $600. 

Photo credits: Pexels

Sophie King

Sophie is a freelance consumer journalist who has worked for major brands including The Sun and MoneySavingExpert (MSE). She’s covered all things consumer finance, benefits, energy bills, refund rights and regulation. During her time at MSE she managed to get the Department for Work and Pensions to stop sending envelopes out to vulnerable people with info on the back telling them to switch energy provider - at a time when no one should have been switching.

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