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Highest paid trades in Australia

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As one of the biggest employment sectors in the country, people working in the trade industry are always in demand. Having a trade can take you anywhere, and whatever your passion, the opportunities are endless.
A portrait of female carpenter working on her product indoors in carpentry workshop.

Whether you’re interested in plumbing, electrical or carpentry, you can be sure you’re heading into a career with a secure future. A career in the trade industry also provides financial benefits, with opportunities open to many high-paying jobs. Below, we look at the top five highest-paying trades and pathways to begin your career as a tradesperson.

What do tradies do?

A tradesperson, popularly known as a tradie in Australia, is a person who works in a hands-on practical field. Most commonly, trades encompass a large portion of the construction industry, with many different tradespeople responsible for the safe, successful and efficient completion of commercial and residential projects. Training for a trade is generally completed through apprenticeship training and TAFE qualifications, ranging from a Certificate III to a Diploma. But how do you know that working as a tradie is right for you?

You may want to consider a pre-apprenticeship, an entry-level training option delivered through a Certificate II course. This delivery method is fantastic for getting first-hand experience in your trade of choice and gaining the skills to apply for an apprenticeship successfully. However, before you consider any type of study, take some time to think about the personal skills commonly shown by tradies and if you fit the bill. Some traits often desired in tradies include:

  • Hand-eye coordination: no matter your specialty, a high level of manual dexterity is crucial to trade work’s precise and hands-on nature.
  • Communication: working with clients and your team on projects requires high communication skills to listen to and collaborate with others actively.
  • Problem-solving: approaching complex problems with a clear and logical mind to achieve the best outcome for your client whilst providing a safe and functional final project.
  • Organisational skills: managing your time, tasks, and team coordination can shave time off a project and create a safer and cleaner working environment.

If you feel that you possess some of these skills, a career in the trade industry may suit you. Completing a qualification in your trade will help foster and strengthen these skills, but having some confidence in your personal skills will give you a substantial advantage when applying for jobs or apprenticeships and attaining client testimonials. Now that you have an idea of the basic skills you’ll need, you can begin to consider what type of trade you’d like to pursue.

How much do tradies earn?

Working as a tradie in Australia can be a fantastic career path offering an extensive range of benefits such as:

  • Job security: ample opportunities are available to skilled tradespeople, with trade work being highly in-demand in Australia due to its central role in the construction and maintenance industries.
  • Earn as you learn: forgo expensive university debts by earning money whilst completing your apprenticeship.
  • Flexible work: gain self-sufficiency with opportunities doing independent contract work and even pursuing business ownership.
  • Regular scenery changes: work at many unique locations and alongside different groups of people.
  • Exercise: regularly move around and complete physically intensive work, maintaining a healthier lifestyle than more sedentary roles such as office positions.

Most notably, however, tradies benefit from higher average salaries. The 2020 ABS employee earnings report places the average wage across major trade industries, including construction, public administration, safety, electricity, gas, water and waste services, at $77,896 per annum. We’ve compiled a list of great trades that offer competitive salaries reflective of this data to help you on the road to financial and career success.

1. Plumber

At the highest average salary across popular career platforms Payscale, Seek and JobOutlook, a career as a plumber could see you earning $82,248 per year. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of a burst pipe or any other plumbing emergencies, then you know that plumbers are the unsung heroes of domestic living. Plumbers also work on residential and commercial plumbing installations as well as many other crucial services such as water, gas, drainage, sewerage, ventilation and heating and cooling solutions.

SWTAFE offers multiple pathways to becoming a licensed plumber, including the Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services. You will learn skills in an extensive range of plumbing areas with career outcomes as a plumbing contractor, mechanical services contractor and self-employed plumber or gasfitter.

2. Electrician

Sitting at number two on our list are electricians, also known as ‘sparkies’, who can pull in $82,089 per annum, according to statistics from Payscale, Seek and JobOutlook. Electricians keep everything running safely and smoothly in your home and neighbourhood, working to install, maintain and repair the electrical systems we depend on for day-to-day living.

If you’re interested in becoming a licensed electrician, SWTAFE offers a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician. With this certificate, you can complete an apprenticeship and learn to work on electrical systems and equipment.

3. HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians, more commonly known as air conditioning technicians, work on heating and cooling installations as well as ducted system installations, helping Australians across the nation survive the country’s extreme weather conditions. Coming in at an average of $77,166 per annum, HVAC technicians take home a tidy sum for their efforts.

4. Carpenter

Sitting at a humble fourth position is the carpenter, more popularly known as a ‘chippy’. Chippies can work in any number of specialisations, such as finish work and cabinetry and, at their core, form a large part of the small and large-scale construction process. With an average salary of $63,241 per annum, working as a chippy is a rewarding career. If you’re interested in finding out more about the role of a carpenter, you can read more here.

SWTAFE offers numerous pathways into carpentry, with one notable example being our Certificate III in Carpentry, where you can learn valuable skills for window and door installation as well as general construction.

5. Landscaper

Last but not least on our list, if you have a green thumb, you may want to consider working as a landscaper. Working in residential and public landscaping, landscapers tend to any number of gardens and parks, ensuring they are aesthetically pleasing and healthily maintained. Landscapers are reported to earn an average of $61,994 per annum, according to combined data from Payscale, Seek and Job Outlook.

With the Certificate III in Landscape Construction, you’ll learn drainage system installation, landscape feature construction and general plant information.

Trade courses in Australia

At SWTAFE, we offer an extensive range of qualifications and apprenticeship-based learning opportunities, giving you the flexibility and freedom to choose the pathway that suits you best. With broad trade-based course opportunities, there's something for everyone, including focuses in:

Whether you’re planning on a career change or simply want to expand your professional skillset, pursuing a qualification in trade-based skills is a lucrative and rewarding approach to the Australian workforce. No matter the goal, the team at SWTAFE is willing to help you along the way with our Skills and Jobs Centre, offering one-on-one sessions to discuss the pathway that you’d like to pursue. So what are you waiting for? Start your journey to a rewarding future as a tradie today!