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Tradies reveal huge wages as expert tells Aussies this is how to ‘retire by 50’

Australians are now questioning whether it was worth going to university and racking up HECS debt when they could've gone into construction

Australians are being told 'get into a trade' if you want to retire by 50 as tradies candidly reveal their pay and university graduates grapple with finding a job worth the HECS debt they are in.

From a plumber earning $45 and a diesel fitter making between $120 and $130 an hour, to a scaffolder earning $3,000 a week (or $156,000 a year) and miners pocketing up to $160,000 a year, those in trades breaking taboo by talking about their pay have sparked debate among Australians who are now unsure about their chosen career paths.

Some admitted pulling up to 80-hour weeks and FIFO miners are known to do two weeks on for one week off, but ‘white collar’ workers who may have easier hours are wondering if it’s worth it.

Reporter interviewing tradies about how much they get paid
Tradies candidly revealed how much they earned and it has sparked a big debate. (Source: TikTok)

“There are people literally half my age making nearly as much with only a few years’ experience … The idea that you have to be in some kind of ‘white collar’ professional job to make a lot of money is old and inaccurate but still widely believed in some quarters,” one said.

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“The construction industry is by far the best place you can work to earn good money with basically no education. Doing an apprenticeship earns you more, often, than any graduate jobs.” added another.

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Recruitment expert Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance trades were also a path to becoming your own boss as younger Australians speak out about struggling to find a “liveable” wage in entry-level jobs.

“I tell any parents, ‘Get your kids into a trade’. That's where the money is,” Wynn said.

"A lot of these guys start their own businesses further down the track and, by the time they are 50, they are retired."

Last week, Brisbane woman Maddy Basham had a brutal reality check when she was offered $50,000 for an entry-level job that was well below what she was earning as a retail manager.

She said she was “sick and tired” of seeing companies ask “for an educated, experienced marketer and paying them f**king nothing”. The marketing coordinator would be earning $24.04 an hour, which is only just above the minimum wage for Australian workers.

“[That's] for a job requiring a whole-ass degree and two years in job experience that … isn't even enough to pay back the HECS debt that I took out to go get that degree," she said.

Worker called Maddy explaining her struggles at decent entry-level jobs
Maddy was furious at the salaries being offered by some companies. (Source: Instagram)

Wynn said navigating post-university employment was becoming difficult given the number of Australians now graduating, and higher wage expectations for those with qualifications.

“$50,000 - that's entry level. There are far more people getting qualifications now and, consequently, it doesn't have the same value as it had 20 or 30 years ago. That's why they don't get the same kind of money. [Employers] think, 'Well, it's easy to get that these days, let's see what you can do first' before offering higher wages.”

Trades ‘hard on the body’

While some tradies make a lot of money, their jobs can be very physically demanding. They’re usually battling the elements and have to ensure they’re fit enough to carry out the daily tasks at hand.

People reacting to the video created by dating-style recruitment app GetAhead said working in the construction industry was definitely a young person’s game. One referred to a friend in his late 50s whose body was now “trashed” after years of being a tradie.

“New knees, new shoulder, etc. He’s forced outta work because he physically can’t do it anymore,” they said.

Another revealed they knew a 29-year-old tradie making more than $200,000 per year who had already had two spinal surgeries.

"It's hard work and will, in many cases, mean a reduced working life,” said a third.

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