Gear you’ll need to work in Construction

So you got a job in the construction industry…

The first question your employer will ask is: “Do you have PPE?”

Your answer is “YES.”

He or she will then give you a run down of the PPE required for the job and on the specific site you’ll be working on. Some employers provide PPE for their employees as well.

What is PPE? Personal protective equipment. These are the safety requirements set out by the construction company and site you’ll be working on. These are things you’ll need to purchase before starting work if your employer does not provide PPE: hard hat, steel toe boots and high visibility clothing (high viz). Extras you may find helpful, but may not necessarily need or want: heavy duty working gloves, protective goggles, ear plugs, and a sun brim to attach to your hard hat (highly recommended for traffic controllers!). If you’re starting as a formworker, or other specific trade, you’ll probably need to purchase your own tools (hammers, levels etc.).

Most all your gear, including your hard hat, can be purchased from a hardware store close by. To name a few, there’s Bunnings, Home Hardware and Masters. Search for a location in your neighbourhood. For steel toe boots I would highly recommend skipping Big W and Kmart and going for a good quality pair that will last you a while. You’ll likely be on your feet all day so having a strong, sturdy pair that will protect you is a worthy investment. The site you’ll be working on may also require, that for safety reasons, you only wear lace-up boots, so ask your employer before purchasing.

For high viz clothing (and boots), do a simple Google search for ‘workwear’ in your area. Totally Workwear has multiple locations across Australia with good clothing brands like KingGee. You can get by with high viz from Big W or Kmart as well. For those in Sydney, there’s a stall in Paddy’s Markets (Haymarket) that sells high viz at a good price. They also happen to have a full range of high viz for women which can be helpful. Paddy’s Markets close between 5pm-6pm, and are also closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so make sure you make the trip out on the appropriate day.

Now that you’re suited up, you’re ready to go!

Is there another industry of work in Australia you’d like learn to break into? Let me know below!

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Getting a job in Construction

This is for all you men… AND ladies… who are looking to make some good money in Australia and are willing to put in a little sweat. Once you’ve got a bank account ready for coin, as well as a TFN (Tax File Number) you’ll be ready to go. If you haven’t opened a Superannuation Fund (like a retirement savings account) don’t fret. Your employer will give you the paperwork to open the account upon hiring. It will likely be with a company called CBUS.

Get your White Card (Construction Induction)– Every person working on a construction site, no matter what position, will need to obtain their white card. This is a general induction card that preps you for work on a construction site. I did mine online with Allens Training. Just pick the appropriate state according to where you live and off you go. I paid $55 in early 2013. The online course is a power point presentation, followed by a few multiple choice questions. At the end you’ll have to call in to answer 2 or 3 ridiculously easy questions and then you’ll be mailed out your white card. If you choose the wrong state or plan to move around while you’re working, that’s fine. White cards are recognized nationally so you won’t need to get a new one if you plan to work in a different state.

For men with NO previous construction experience- The easiest way to get your foot in the door on a construction site is to start as a ‘general labourer.’ This means you’ll be called around all over site to help out where needed. This will also give you a good idea of what sort of work in construction you’d like to get into via observation (ie. formwork, scaffolding, dogman, crane driver, foreman, health and safety rep). In NSW general labourers usually start at a minimum of around $22/hour. If you work longer than 8 hours in one day your wages should change to time-and-a-half, and after 10 hours, double-time. Weekend rates are higher as well. Look at a few different companies to compare wages as some pay above reward wages. When I lived in Canberra I worked as a general labourer for $32/hour, base rate, so do your research. A note to the ladies: I would never again work as general labourer unless absolutely desperate. The money was good but I was completely battered and bruised by the end of each shift. I wouldn’t suggest it as women’s work.

For men with construction experience- You’ll have to transfer over any licenses obtained from your home country, over to Australian. Depending on your trade this could be expensive, but a worthy investment. After that it’s just a matter of looking for work.

For the ladies… and gentlemen- Become a traffic controller. I especially suggest this to women because the job is not labour-intensive (aside from sometimes having to stand for 8 hours straight), it pays very well, and it’s easy work. Traffic controllers could work on a site, or outside a site. They direct traffic including vehicles and pedestrians in a safe manner while allowing the site to function. This could include directing pedestrians to a different footpath (or sidewalk), or stopping traffic all together for times when construction vehicles need to enter or exit a site. There are millions of scenarios. Sometimes you’ll simply stand on a corner a safe distance from where a crane is operating, directing pedestrians to a different route. Pretty mindless work… as long as you have a bit of common sense. Just as before, you’ll need to obtain a White Card. After that you’ll need a Blue Card which allows you to use a stop/slow bat in traffic. This is a simple one day course at a training facility that you choose. I went with Infront Staffing and Training. As of today it costs between $120-150 for the course. You’ll also need to show your driver’s licence (an Australian driver’s licence or one from your home country is fine).

After completing the course for your Blue Card you’re ready to work. Some companies require that you also get your Yellow Card. I have mine and I would suggest you only get it if you need to. Otherwise, save your money, stick with just a Blue Card and get on the job hunt. Traffic control companies typically pay a starting rate of $25/hour. Rates will also increase after working 8 hours in a day, and after 10 hours as well. You’ll also be paid more on weekends, or if you happen to work overnights.

Where to look for work- Whether experienced or not, if you have friends that are already in Australia and working in the construction industry, you’ll be better off. This way a friend could get you started as a form worker, rather a general labourer, and you could learn as you go while being paid a higher rate. For jobs in general labouring or traffic control, do a quick search on GumTree. You could also try Indeed and Seek. If you happen to pass by a traffic controller on the street (or construction labourer), stop them and ask who they work for and if they’d pass on some contact info. Tons of people have gotten jobs by simply doing so.

Any other suggestions or tips? LET ME KNOW! 🙂