Australia is a travellers haven. This vast land offers mountains to be climbed, slopes to be skied down, beaches to be a mermaid on and some of the best coffee in the world can be found in Melbourne. That’s really just to name a very few of the wonderful things to see and do in Australia. Throw in decent working wages, a reasonable living cost and some magnificent donuts and it’s no wonder that Australia receives around 200,000 applications each and every year for the infamous Working Holiday Visa program.
What is the Working Holiday Visa?
The Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) is a temporary visa for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year. It is a temporary visa that encourages cultural exchange, with a particular emphasis on young people, and closer ties between Australia and eligible countries. Originally eligible countries were those in the Commonwealth but now the program encompasses 39 nations.
Just to really confuse you with info there are two visas available. The above Working Holiday Visa – 417 and the Work and Holiday Visa 462. What’s the difference? Not a lot. The Work and Holiday Visa – 462- requires that you have functional English, at minimum of two years of undergraduate university study and a letter of support from your government.
Also all Working Holiday Visa holders are eligible to study in Australia for up to four months. So you can choose to upskill while you’re here.
At the time of writing the application fee for a Working Holiday Visa is $440 AU
Generally speaking the Working Holiday Visa is available for 12 months. Allowing you to flounce around the country and make some good ol’ fashion cold hard cash. Some countries, not all, have the option to extend the Working Holiday Visa for an additional 12 months if the person completes three months of “specified work” in a regional area. Note that regional area in Australia is friggen HUGE! There’s a lot of options here if you need it.
Just a fun fact. The following countries are the top 5 Working Holiday Visa applicants in 2015-16.
- United Kingdom – 34,097
- Germany – 21,210
- France – 18,530
- South Korea – 17,721
- Taiwan – 14,803
More then 214,000 Working Holiday Visas were granted in 2015-16.
*These statistics are from the Working Holiday Visa Maker Report.
Really Specific Regional Work – Visa extension
Great news travelling ladies and gents. Even if you are from the USA you can now apply for a second year visa if you complete some really specific regional work for a total period of three months. Here’s a very brief overview as this is a really deep down the rabbit hole kinda topic.
Examples of eligible specified work:
- picking fruits on an orchard
- feeding and herding cattle on a farm
- horse breeding and stud farming
- landscaping the grounds of a construction/house site
- painting the interior/exterior of new buildings
- conservation and environmental reforestation work
- zoo work involving plant or animal cultivation
- erecting fences on a construction site
Can I volunteer for my regional work?
All specified work performed on or after 1 December 2015 must be remunerated in accordance with the relevant Australian legislation and awards. Voluntary work performed after 1 December 2015 will not be accepted for the purpose of applying for a second Working Holiday visa.
If you want more in depth information please go and check out the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Is It Easy to Find Work in Australia?
Yes. No. Maybe. It depends? Apologies for such an ambivalent answer I know. But in all honesty it really does depend on what you are willing and able to do. I won’t lie to you it can be a struggle to find work. The current job market, at the time of writing, in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne were not terrible traveller friendly in the professional/corporate market. Office work can be a bit fickle at times and we are certainly seeing the effects of the global market here in Australia.
Easier Jobs to Get-
Hospitality. Bar tending and waiting tables might not seem that glorious to your travels spirit but most places pay around $20/hr. Depending on the venue you might get minimal tips on top of your hourly rate. I say minimal because Australia is not a tipping country.
To up your job application game make sure you have your Responsible Service of Alcohol (RS..A). In most states, except Victoria and WA, you can get this certificate online for less then $50. In Victoria you need to attend a class which goes for around 4 hours and can cost anywhere between $39-$65.
Barista- The capital cities are always on the look out for experienced and wonderful baristas. I’ve put this in a different category to hospitality because in Australia being a barista is taken very seriously. Bad coffee can ruin someones day and no business is going to risk that.
Nanny/Au Pair – these kind of services are really starting to take off in Australia as working women are enjoying the hustle of work and less so the care of children.
Shop Assistant – Again retail might not seem that glamorous but it can pay really well, with steady work hours.
Jobs to Avoid-
Promotional/Fundraising work. Job ads that list promotional work is most likely selling on the side walk or in train stations. You’ll be selling your soul to fund charities. Which I always find rather ironic.
Call centre work – it’s not a pleasant or well paying job. You’ll most likely find yourself in the depth of despair or being made redundant after a few days for not selling Grandma that third credit card and life insurance policy.
Free City Tour Guide – these are only just starting to appear in the larger cities. Tips are fairly poor as really Australians just aren’t used to tipping.
Don’t believe me? See what Nina from Where in the World is Nina did for work in Darwin!
Let’s Talk All Things Money & Minimum Wages.
One of the reasons Australia is such a hot spot for working travellers is the awesome pay rates. The minimum wage for an adult (21+) is $19.49 an hour, with casual employees receiving a 25% leave loading. If you are a casual employee you are not entitled to sick leave or annual leave. This doesn’t mean you can’t take time off it just means that your employer isn’t legally obliged to pay you for this time off.
I won’t get too much into detail but here a few things to know about being an employee in Australia, even if you are on a Working Holiday Visa.
Payslips – Your employer must legally provide you with a payslip stating hours work, pay rate, tax and superannuation.
This is super important if you are completing your regional work to extend your VISA. You need evidence of payment, including days worked.
Superannuation – this is a 9.5% of your wages paid into your retirement fund. No you can’t just ask for this money to be paid directly to you, this money is ontop of your wages and goes into a special superannuation fund. There are huge fines for employers who do not pay superannuation. 2019 has seen a few changes to superannuation payments. Employers are now required to use a single touch pay system which pays superannuation more frequently then before and reports this directly to the ATO. So even if you end up working for a dodgy employer you may a few years letter get contact from the ATO as superannuation payments are being made. Hopefully the new system will cut down on employers trying to dodge paying super to their international employees.
When you leave Australia you can apply to have your super paid to you as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment.
PAYG– Pay As You Go taxes – If you work in Australia, tax will be withheld from your pay and you’ll be obligated to lodge an income tax return each year. From 1 January 2017 – as a working holiday maker – the first $37,000 of your income is taxed at 15%, with the balance taxed at ordinary rates. Don’t worry too much about this. It’s your employer’s responsibility to pay this tax on your behalf.
When you depart Australia you can lodge your tax return early. Most backpackers end up with a healthy tax return from the Australian government. You can use this money to invest or you can book your next trip.
Where to Find Work?
Online is a great place to start looking. Note that it is easier to apply and go for interviews once you have arrived in Australia.
Seek – this is the largest job site in Australia.
LinkedIn- always has interesting jobs and you can apply directly through the platform.
Backpacker Jobs Board
Working Holiday Jobs
Facebook – yup there are loads of backpackers groups in Facebook that list and recommend reliable, safe employers
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are way more sites out there then I can list here. As well as plenty of agencies that can help set you up with a bank account, tax file number and a job interview all before you arrive in the country. As an Australian resident I’ve never used this kind of service and have read mixed reviews.
Also don’t be afraid to walk into hostels, cafes and restaurants with your resume and a smile!
So there we have it. A brief overview in Australia’s Working Holiday Visa program and potential jobs. There’s so much more to see and do in Australia that one post just wouldn’t have done it all justice.
Have you completed a working holiday visa in Australia? How did you find it?
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Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
- "How long have you been in Australia?" - Like Riding a Bicycle... - […] 5 months. Not long compared to some. It’s a question I hear almost daily. 5 months. (If you want…
A genuinely useful article. I was aware of Australia being flocked by many for job opportunities, but did not know the nitty gritties. You have listed them down so comprehensively!
If my life situation had been a bit different, I would’ve loved to go to Australia on the working holiday visa. My cousin did it. She was picking fruits and went backpacking and had an amazing time there 🙂 thanks for sharing these great tips and useful information!
I’ve briefly looked into the Australia working visa, as well as NZ, but to be honest didn’t give either of them enough time! There’s so much to take in that it just confused me. I love how simple and concise your post is – it’ll definitely help when it comes to deciding whether it’s actually something I want to apply for in the near future.
Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully you do decide to come over!
Very informative and detailed description of Australia’s Holiday visa. While travelling if we can study then it is a bliss. That 12 months visa is good because Australia is a big country and we can work also.
Quite an informative post… It will really help people who want to work in Australia as well a explore the country 🙂
My friend works in Australia as a software engineer and the pay is really good. Travelling and working in a different country is a great way to explore and learn about the culture.
This is so useful as we are going there next summer. I will be working online so need a working visa when I go. Glad to know the difference between the two. I guess us Brits love Oz being the number 1 applicants!
I think it’s all the sun that you Brits love!!
Great post! I found this really helpful!! I will definitely refer back to it as I plan more of my time in Australia!
Such an in-depth guide! I never considered Australia for a working holiday visa, but I’ve been starting to think to do sth like that after I finished my PhD 🙂 I’ll come back to your post then!
The article is really informative. I never knew about such Visas. Now after reading this I am intrigued. I may want to try my luck with this now. The great outdoors of Australia, seems to stretch out in front of me.
Great, informative post! I’ve been doing something [sort of] similar in France by working as an au pair, it’s good to know that stuff like this is available in Australia!
Sounds awesome. Being from Canada I imagine that Canada would be accepted because of the commonwealth. I think some of the jobs available are great to help people build character and the fact that it is someplace else is a bonus.
Yup Canadians are always welcome here!!
This is really valuable information for gap year or OE trips. I did not realise that Australia had this programme in place. New Zealand has a working holiday programme as well. And a good barista is highly sought after in both countries as we all really do like our coffee down under :).
Wow I’m really surprised you didn’t know about this.
what a great guide for people who are looking to travel and work in Australia! I am from Taiwan and I’ve heard of so many people from my country taking a year or two off to work in Australia. Comparing the pay rate in Australia vs Taiwan, I can see why it is a popular destination!
This is a great deal for college students. Hmm, I wonder if the Australian government would let old farts like me get one of those working holiday visas. Might just have to check into it. After all, OZ is the second best country. LOL
Unfortunately, I’m too old for the visa. But I’ll be sure to pass this post on to friends going. I love that you’ve been so thorough in compiling all info needed!
Happy contiued travels!
A good friend of mine stayed in Australia on a working Holiday visa. She had such an amazing experience. Her jobs ranged from nursing to farm work.
I completely agree with you about promotion working for charities. It defeats the object of fundraising and it must be heart breaking to have people avoiding you in the street.
I was in Australia in 2010 and loved it. I was just travelling around and I am eager to go back.
I have a friend there looking for work now. I’ll have to send him this post– it’s full of good information!
This is really interesting, a lot of stuff I never knew, as a native Australian! At least now I know where to point people for information when they ask me about working in Australia! 😉
Such a great post. I use to study in Australia and met many people with holiday visa, Many struggled to get jobs, some worked at farms and coffee shops etc. Promotional/Fundraising work is not a good idea in Australia, it looks so hard. Thank you for sharing these great and specific tips 😀
Interesting information if you are planning to visit Australia on a working holiday. I haven’t visited Australia yet – time to change that!
Australia seems to be a super popular place to go for this type of program- I’m Canadian and have a ton of friends who either worked or studied there. I think they made the right choice- Australia is so awesome!
We do love our Canadian cousins!!
Wow, sounds like you can find some nice opportunities over here… And I mean, who wouldn’t love going to Australia to live here at least a few months..
Such a informative post. It gives you all the details of how to find work and deal with the visa related issues. I have never been to Australia but if someday I go I will surely refer this post
This is THE most comprehensive post I’ve read on the topic, Jean! Thanks for compiling all of this info in one place 🙂 I know a few people who went to Oz for a year and absolutely loved it, but you’re so right to caution people to do some due diligence in the jobs they accept.
Such an informative post! I’m Australian and I didn’t even know a lot of this! Haha.
I’m currently working and living in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. There’s a lot of regional work available there! 🙂
How do you find Alice? A lot of countries have recently listed Alice Springs as a place to avoid for safety reasons
That´s a great post – years ago while i was still studying there were so many of my friends who actually went for a couple of months on these holiday visas and were keen on staying for longer time, because they liked it down there so much. But i think only a few succeded, because the paper work was insane. And expensive 😉
The second year visa work is easy. The perm visas are horrid
‘Tis a long and laborious visa but worth it to get to stay here!
This is so interesting. I never was able to apply for the working holiday visa when I decided to travel more because I was over 30. They seem to cut off anyone over this threshold. Some of the jobs like working on a farm don’t really appeal to me, but I can see how young people would love this experience. It is quite surprising that Canada didn’t make the top visa applicants! I am now blessed to be married to an Aussie born and raised in Sydney so I will be getting dual citizenship with Australia and Canada at some stage. I just need to raise the $10,000 approx. for the spouse visa and passport :/ maybe I should work on the farm 😉 Great informative post on the process. I hope many young people read it for understandable info to get it properly. I find government sites confusing as all.
It’s crazy the fees for applying for permenant residency here. It scares me so much. I’ve known a few people who haven’t done it purely due to the costs. Fingers crossed you get to stay!
This is such a great resource!! Working Holiday Visas are such an incredible opportunity- I don’t know why more Americans don’t take advantage.
Great post!! So informative!! I love traveling and working because it’s a great way to really experience a culture and really get to know a country. I worked in South Korea and feel like it would be super cool to work in Australia. Thanks!
This is extremely well written! I haven’t made it to AU yet, but someday I’ll get there!
Well you need to pack your bags and come on down
Great post! Our tax and superannuation systems even confuse locals. I hope you are enjoying your time in my home town.
I am Julie. I’m also born and bred here in Melbourne! Thankfully not a confused local on super and tax.
Great post Jean. This will be very helpful for lots of travellers.
I love how you broke this down! I’ve been looking into the working holiday visa and had such a hard time finding information and when I did find it – it was very vague and discouraging. You outdid yourself on this super informative post!! I like your suggestions of jobs to stay away from, also. Super helpful!!
I was genuinely curious about this as so many of my friends here in the UK were hoping to do this! I had a rough idea of how it worked but certainly not to this depth, excellent information!
Wow! This is so informative. I’m so happy I’m a citizen and don’t have to go through all this, lol. Keep up the wonderful work 🙂
As an Aussie I’m not surprised to see the UK topping the list. I think all of them are working in Sydney right now lol 🙂
I think you could be right there!! I was surprised at how many applicants we get each year.
This is such a helpful post! I know so many people who get stressed about this
Then send them my way!! And we can help educate them
Great post! You provide a lot of helpful information for people thinking of getting a working holiday visa in Australia. The regional jobs really offer unique opportunities to try something new.
Super-informative, there’s so much I didn’t realize about the working holiday visa system for Australia! It’s also pretty wild they pay $20/hr there for bartending, it’s pretty much impossible to find something like that right off the bat here in New York!
We do get paid really well here!
Some great tips in there! If you think you are going to want to stay an extra year I’d highly recommend trying to do the regional work first. That way it is out of the way and you can relax for the rest of your stay and really flounce around!
Only certain countries can do that. Thankfully as an Australian I’ll never have to worry about this!
Thank you for this info. I’ll keep it safe for when I decide to go 🙂 love your blog too, very interesting posts
What a beautiful Blog! Thank you for your sharing!