You are thinking about getting into the construction industry – fantastic! Construction is booming in Australia and there is a constant struggle to find construction workers at all levels of experience and skill.
One of the first things you need to know is what qualifications you need.
Like a lot of things, the first step is straightforward.
First, you need a white card.
1. What is a white card?
In NSW, you need a white card for construction work. The government requires everyone who routinely enters operational construction zones to have a white card – from site managers, supervisors, surveyors, and tradespeople to the guy lugging a wheelbarrow.
Basically, a white card indicates that a construction worker knows about health and safety policies relevant to building sites.
It also demonstrates you’ve completed a general construction induction training with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
White cards become invalid if you haven’t carried out construction work for two or more years in a row.
So if you want to get started in construction, this is the first – and essential – qualification you need.
2. How To Get a White Card?
First, you have to be at least 14 years old.
Assuming you’ve got that covered, you must complete a classroom or an online course with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). You can find a registered white card trainer here.
The course can be completed in one day, though you can take longer if you complete it online.
While course costs depend on the provider, they typically range from $150 to $300. There are also some available in other languages if you are less confident in English.
During these courses, you don’t have to attend any exams. Instead, you are asked to demonstrate whether you’re aware of all necessary protocols required in the construction site through a verbal assessment in English.
If you’re opting for an online one, you’ll be required to carry out a brief video interview that aims to assess your ability to work on a construction site.
Once you’ve completed the course, the trainer will pass on your application form to SafeWork and give you a statement you can use to prove you have completed the course until your new card arrives.
Typically your white card will arrive within 30 days.
In addition, you can now add your White card (along with other trade licenses) to the Service NSW Mobile App, which you probably already use for Covid Safe Check-In and to store your Driver’s License details.
3. Get Additional Licenses & Cards
Want to earn more?
Then you will need additional licenses to operate machinery, perform higher risk taks, or more specialized work.
You can for example earn:
- LO and LF licenses – for operating a forklift.
- A Traffic Control Work Training Card –– needed for traffic control purposes.
- SB & SI & SA License – required for Scaffolding work.
Read more about all the options available here:
- High Risk Work Licences
- Asbestos Work Licences
- Demolition Licenses
- Traffic Control Work Training Card
- Explosives and fireworks licenses
How can you get these licenses? Like the white card, you will need to attend short courses provided by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
All of them also require you to be at last 18 years old. Some skills are available at different levels, for example Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Scaffolding. Others, such as the asbestos removal license, require additional experience working with asbestos before a license is issued.
4. Other Trades
Construction – whether residential, commercial or industrial – involves multiple tradies: roofers, tilers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, tilers, carpenters, and plumbers.
Working in construction can provide you with a window into what they do and could inspire you to move down a tradie route.
Licensed tradies earn more than general workers, and though their trades require a significantly larger investment in time, it can pay off well. If you are interested in entering a trade, consider an apprenticeship or a traineeship. This could complement your construction career.
5. Know How to Speak English
If you want to work as a construction worker in Australia, you must learn and communicate in English. While you don’t have to be a native English speaker to obtain a White Card, you will have to answer questions and demonstrate your knowledge in English.
Functional English also ensures you can understand and communicate with fellow workers and supervisors effectively – which is vital for site safety.
Can you still get a construction job with zero experience in Australia? Yes, you can! Start by getting your White Card, and see where this journey takes you.
It can be a very rewarding industry – but like all jobs the more skilled you are, the more you earn. So, if you can see a future in construction – consider picking up additional licenses – it’ll pay for itself!
Did You Know?
The Dragon Worker App makes it easy to add and keep track of your additional licenses and qualifications, as well as your tax and super details.
It is also part of the Dragon Worker experience.