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Trade Apprenticeship for Foreigners

Many international students are interested in undertaking a trade apprenticeship in Australia. This article discusses the options for international students.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the time spent learning a skilled trade under the direction of a qualified tradesperson. There are hundreds of different trades – from carpenter, auto mechanic, electrician or plumber just to name a few. 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 obtain the Cert III in your trade.

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

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

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

Can Foreigners do a Trade Apprenticeship in Australia?

Answered by Nick Yock

Can international students learn a trade in Australia?

Fortunately, there is an option for international students who would like to study a trade in Australia. Students can study a 1 or 2-year course in their trade at an education provider and receive exactly the same qualification as Australians who undertake 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, plumbing, engineering fabrication and trade, air conditioning and refrigeration, bricklaying, plastering and many more.

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

What is vocational placement?

Vocational Placement is a requirement for most trade courses, and students generally undertake 360 hours throughout the duration of their course. A student is placed in a real-life work site and receives practical training and experience on site.

Australians who undertake an apprenticeship or international students who study a trade receive exactly the same qualification when finished. So an international student who goes to Tafe QLD and studies the Cert III in Carpentry for 2 years will receive exactly the same qualification (a Cert III in Carpentry) as an Australian who does an apprenticeship for 4 years.

Frequently asked questions

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 this visa is meant for
Can Australian permanent residents undertake a trade apprenticeship?
Quite possibly, contact your local State based apprenticeship provider
Can I work when I am studying?
Yes, most international students studying a trade can undertake paid work 40 hours per fortnight during class, and unlimited during 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
Find out more information on the learning a trade in Australia here

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Email: [email protected]

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