Trade Apprenticeship for Foreigners

Trade apprenticeship in Australia

Many international students are interested in undertaking a trade apprenticeship in Australia. This article discusses the many options available, including requirements, restrictiofor international students.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is time spent learning a skilled trade under the direction of a qualified tradesperson. There are hundreds of different trades such as carpentry, auto mechanic, electrician or plumber. As an apprentice, you and an employer have a legal agreement called a training contract. This lasts until you have completed your training and both you and your employer agree you are competent in your field. In Australia, most trade-based apprenticeships take 4 years to complete. This will see you holding a Certificate III in your trade.

Generally, during the apprenticeship, you will work on the job under your supervisor at your place of work for 4 days per week, as well as off the job with an education provider for 1 day per week.

You are paid throughout the 4-year apprenticeship and your pay increases every year. The government usually pays part of your wage your employer and part of your fees to your education provider.

Unfortunately, foreigners cannot work a traditional 4-year apprenticeship in Australia, as you cannot obtain a work visa to do so. However, there are still options available to learn a trade in Australia.

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Can international students learn a trade in Australia?

Fortunately, there is an option for international students who would like to learn a trade in Australia. Students can study a 1 or 2-year course in their trade at an education provider and receive the same qualification as an Australian who undertakes a 4-year apprenticeship.

How does it work?

Students can enrol to study many trade courses in Australia including: carpentry, automotive mechanical, automotive electrical, joinery, boat building, chef, electrical instrumentation, cabinet maker, engineering fabrication and trade, air conditioning and refrigeration, bricklaying, plastering, heavy diesel commercial mechanic and many more.

The main difference is that international students attend classes the majority of the time and have limited vocational placements with Australian employers.

What is a vocational placement?

A Vocational Placement is required for most trade courses, and generally involves 360 hours of experience on a real-life worksite. This sees students acquiring practical, hands on training to compliment their class studies.

Australians who undertake an apprenticeship or international students who learn a trade receive the same qualification when finished. So an international student who goes to TAFE QLD and studies the Certificate III in Carpentry for 2 years will have an equal qualification to an Australian who does an apprenticeship for 4 years. Both will hold the same certification. 

Frequently Asked Questions

In case you don’t find an answer to your question, feel free to consult with one of our agents.

What if I find an employer who will take me on as an apprentice?
Unfortunately, you cannot undertake the apprenticeship because there is no valid visa for this.
Can I undertake a trade apprenticeship on a training and research visa (Subclass 402) ?
No, that is not what the Subclass 402 visa is meant for.
Can Australian permanent residents undertake a trade apprenticeship?
Quite possibly. Contact your local state-based apprenticeship provider to find out more.
Can I work when I am studying?
Yes, most international students studying a trade can undertake paid work. Restrictions of 40 hours per fortnight may apply during class terms, but hours will be unlimited during the school holidays.
Can I stay and work in Australia when I finish my course?

If you undertake a 2-year trade course in Australia, then you may be eligible for the graduate work visa afterwards. More info can be found here, or feel free to contact Pathway to Aus directly to learn more.


In case of questions, feel free to reach out to one of our experienced Registered Migration Agents.

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Can Foreigners do a Trade Apprenticeship in Australia was last modified: February 25th, 2022 by Nick Yock