Browse Adzuna Blog »

Highest paying trades

Everyone groans at the price when they need to call a tradie. It always hurts the pockets. There’s a lot of talk about the expense of calling out a tradesperson. Sure, it can be expensive, but we often forget their unique skills and how much we need them! Without them we would have constant (and pretty massive) problems with our buildings.

Usually they train as low paid apprentices for up to 4 years while going to trade school – that’s dedication for you. Do you have an interest in a trade? Plumbing? Electrician? Carpenter? A good trade everyone will need now and into the future is good to have behind you. It is hard work to qualify and low paid in the beginning, but with experience the rewards are much greater. So, what are the highest paying trades in Australia?

Australian tradies are well paid for their services. More than double of some professional services by the hour. A lawyer earns an average of $33 an hour when starting out compared to $90 for a plumber. However, lawyers often work for large firms without the costs of running a small business. Most tradies are sole traders or run small businesses. They have the added costs of running a vehicle, quoting jobs, staff, insurances, licensing and keeping up with the latest occupational health and safety best practices. But if tradie life is for you then you can make it work (and make quite a bit of money while you’re at it). Here are some of the highest paying trades.


A plumber in the Australian Capital Territory charges $94.75 compared to $61.42 in Tasmania. It is dirty, wet work on call at all hours. Working with broken pipes, fixtures and blocked drains to installing plumbing in a new building is all in a day’s work for a licensed plumber. Plumbers often do emergency works. For this you can charge a premium for being on call day, night and on public holidays.


Western Australian electricians are the most expensive to hire with New South Wales sparkies charging the lowest at $69.38 an hour. Playing with electricity is a dangerous job. Installing lights, kitchen appliances, rewiring buildings, installing power points and safety switches, there is no room for error. Getting an installation wrong can be a disaster. Risks include fire and electrocution. So, you want to be the best to earn top money. Electricians spend 4 years on the job while going to trade school. And, they must hold an electrical licence to trade.

Metal Fabricators

Metal fabricators earn up to $59 an hour. They fit parts and materials together for welding. And must understand and work to blueprints for the end product. They need to know how to operate metal grinders, flame cutters, drill presses and other machinery. Your work must be of a high standard and quality levels must be consistent. This can be a dangerous environment because of the equipment so you must follow strict safety procedures. Metal fabricators are physically fit, lift heavy objects, stand for much of the day in a hot environment.

While you need to work well in a team you do not need a university degree. To work in senior positions, you need a lot of experience and knowledge. The salary starts at $24.29 for those starting out and goes up to $59.58 an hour for more experience metal fabricators.


If you enjoy working with wood then you can average $50 an hour once qualified and skilled. You need to complete an apprenticeship and trade school with a Certificate III of Carpentry or similar to work in Victoria. Other states have different requirements so check them before working there. Carpentry involves all sorts of work. From timber decking, to building pergolas and patios to putting up wood framing for new buildings, carpentry is a skill high in demand.



Plasterers repair walls and ceilings in renovated buildings and install plaster in new buildings. You will usually work for yourself or for a construction company. A plasterer must be able to read plans to bring them to life in the correct way. You need to enjoy working with your hands and be physically fit. A plasterer has to have a good eye for detail to work with accuracy and gets paid around $38 an hour on average. To become a plasterer you will do an apprenticeship and train to complete a Certificate III in Wall and Ceiling Lining or equivalent.


Tilers have the difficult job of tiling wall and floor spaces in wet areas. They need to seal them to ensure they are waterproof. Tilers can work inside and out laying stone, glass or ceramic tiles following a design brief. Tilers work with different types of chemical products and must know what products to use in what situation. You have to work with precision and care to ensure quality work in the end product. To qualify you will do an apprenticeship to get hands on experience and complete a Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling at trade school. Tilers earn between $18.42 – $40.91 an hour depending on level of experience.  


Cabinetmakers make and repair all types of furniture. They make an average of $36 an hour. They work using different materials to build cabinets from specifications and plans. A cabinetmaker prepares quotes with timelines. Timelines are important as it can mean holding up a build when cabinets are not ready on time. You need good working knowledge of equipment. You will usually do an apprenticeship and complete a Certificate III in Cabinet Making or Furniture Making. You need to know how to work with different materials and how to interpret drawings for the work you are doing.

Landscape Gardener

Many companies use landscape gardeners to maintain the building surroundings and grounds. Home owners also hire a landscape gardener to look after their gardens on a regular basis. They may also plan future plantings of plants and trees. A gardener checks the watering schedules, and trims and cuts back plants and mows the lawns. Their function is to keep the surroundings in top condition. Hands on experience is highly desirable for a landscape gardener. More so than any formal education. You will work outside rain and shine, and earn between $20.63 – $41.32 an hour.

Although the money is not great when you start out, learning a trade is a great way to start your working life (or switch careers!). As you get more experience, you start earning the big money when your services are in demand. Sounds pretty good!