Viral tradie wage revelations spark social media storm

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
4 Min Read

Social media users have been left in disbelief after a series of videos highlighting the wages of Aussie tradies and construction workers have gone viral.

The street interview clips feature every day Aussies being asked what they do for work and how much they earn.

A clear trend is noticeable in the Instagram and Tik Tok videos, with trade and construction industry wages often significantly higher than other career choices featured.

Recent clips showcased a traffic controller who earned $150,000 yearly, a coal miner on $160,000 yearly, and a scaffolder on $200,000 annually.

Meanwhile, an apprentice FIFO machine fitter said she was on $140,000 annually, a FIFO construction manager earned $180,000 annually, and an electrician earned $150,000.

The popular content has many social media users regretting their career choices, with some claiming that tradies are overpaid compared to other professions.

A qualified doctor earned $90,000 annually, as did a hospital pharmacist. Meanwhile, a first-year solicitor was making $75,000.

Commenters pointed out the large pay discrepancy, saying many university degree-requiring-professions did not earn enough considering the length of study plus up to $75,000 in study debts.

“It’s interesting to see that all these guys spend years at university and don’t make any more money than tradesmen,” one user wrote.

“No one is going to study hard if a tradie is getting paid more than a doctor,” another declared.

Videos featuring traffic controllers received particular backlash, with many claiming their wages were undeserved.

“200k a year?! What’s a nurse on? 70-80k?! That’s ridiculous,” one commenter put.

“What’s the incentive to study at university for four years when you can spin a stop sign around and get 200k.”

Another was furious after comparing her hospital doctor’s wage to a traffic controller’s.

“I spent seven years doing undergrad and medical school. My graduating salary was 69k. Hours were 80 per week on bad weeks, and *traffic controllers* make three times what I do.” they wrote.

However, construction workers were quick to defend their higher salaries, claiming tougher working environments and greater physical toll on the body made the extra pay more than fair.

“No luck to it. Smart, hard-working and willing to make sacrifices like working remotely,” a user said.

“Never too late to change careers at any age,” one cheekily recommended.

“So much hate from a bunch of dead-end miserable flops,” one tradie declared.

Why do tradies get paid well:

  • Labour shortages
  • Harsh working environments
  • Physically demanding
  • Extensive training required
  • Safety risks
  • Long hours
  • Early/ late hours

The viral social media videos are part of a marketing campaign for the job search app Getahead, which matches jobseekers with prospective employers, similar to the dating app Tinder.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian construction industry workers earn an average salary of $1786, with one in ten making more than $200,000 annually.

Those numbers compare respectably against the average salaries of commonly considered high-paying careers such as lawyers ($119,000), doctors ($170,000) and civil engineers ($105,000), which also require 4-6 years of university and significant study debts to obtain.

However, many need to consider the physical toll, unusual hours, and dangerous working conditions that most construction and trades roles face.

Every year in Australia, approximately 30 people are killed in the construction industry, and according to SafeWork Australia, there are an astounding 12,500 serious injuries annually.

Meanwhile, healthcare, professional and legal occupations are some of the nation’s safest occupations.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.