Published January 9, 2019
Mature Age Apprenticeships: Are They Worth It?
- Published on January 9, 2019
- Updated on June 3, 2021 - Updated wage data and FAQ section
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At some stage in their careers, most people question whether they’ve made the right career choice. Statistically speaking, almost everyone will change jobs several times throughout their entire careers.
Long gone are the days of getting a job straight out of school and staying there until you retire — this is where a mature age apprenticeship can help. Changing careers is something that needs serious consideration before taking the plunge. However, once you’ve weighed it all up and the pros are in your favour, the change is so liberating.
A mature-age apprenticeship can open the door to a brand new career path, allowing you to complete a vocational qualification (such as a Certificate II, Certificate III or a Diploma) while gaining hands-on work experience — and getting paid.
Here is everything you need to know before beginning a mature age apprenticeship.
If your career involves sitting behind a desk, you’ve probably contemplated doing something with your hands, while those with outdoor jobs will have thought that a career in an office sounds appealing.
One option for office workers looking to change careers is to pursue a mature age or adult apprenticeship. Plenty of people begin adult apprenticeships later in life, which can be especially true for apprenticeships in the building and construction industry, such as becoming a plumber or a carpenter. Apprenticeships aren’t just for the traditional trades, however. You’ll find plenty of people studying non-traditional trades like hairdressing apprenticeships and chef apprenticeships.
Some examples of area you can do an adult apprenticeship in:
What is the age of a mature age apprentice? Can adults undertake an apprenticeship?
An adult apprentice, otherwise known as a mature age apprentice, is an apprentice who begins an apprenticeship at 21 years of age or older. You can undertake a range of different Apprenticeships and Traineeships.
How much does a mature age apprentice earn in Australia?
If you’re currently employed, chances are that you’ll probably take a pay cut in the short term. How much you earn as a first-year apprentice will depend on your trade and the state you live in. However, most apprentices make around minimum wage, which may be tough for those who already have existing financial commitments. You will need to carefully calculate how you or your family might be affected by earning less money for several years — and if it is sustainable.
“Money was a big thing, being a homeowner, but me and my wife talked about it and we made it work. There’s no point being in a job you hate. It’s only four years — you can get there. It’s worth it.”
Average apprentice wage for trades (1st year)
- Electrical apprenticeship wage: $14.15 per hour
- Plumbing apprenticeship wage: $14.26 per hour
- Carpentry apprenticeship wage: $14.67 per hour
Average adult average apprentice wage for trades (1st year)
- Electrical apprenticeship wage – $20.35 per hour
- Plumbing apprenticeship wage – $20.69 per hour
- Carpentry apprenticeship wage – $22.82 per hour
Pay rates depend on several factors — read more about apprentice wages.
To find your exact figure, access the Australian Government’s Fair Work P.A.C.T Pay Calculator.
It’s just good to be outside, you get to relax. Tradies are just laid-back. We do have a good laugh. We work hard as well, very hard, some long days, but we’re able to make jokes, sing with our terrible voices. And it’s just great fun.
It may take a while to complete
Full-time apprenticeships usually take between 3-4 years to complete, which is a combination of on the job training and classroom studies. Any new Australian apprentice, not just mature aged apprentices, need to ask themselves if they are willing to put themselves through a lengthy training process. It’s also worth considering which type of course is the best for you, depending on the level of qualification you’re after. The reward is a nationally recognised qualification that can turn into a satisfying and lucrative career.
As an adult apprentice, you can negotiate an individual training program with your employer that could cut the length of time it takes to be qualified. Depending on the industry and the training requirements, employers and adult apprentices can discuss with a training provider (TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation) how the relevant training can be delivered in a shorter time while still meeting educational goals and the needs of the industry.
Moreover, suppose you already have skills from life and work experience that are transferrable. In that case, you may be entitled to Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) credit, resulting in a shorter training period to become a qualified tradesperson.
Learn more about Apprenticeships and Traineeships.
You may have to swallow your pride
As an adult apprentice, there is a good chance you will be taking your instructions from someone younger than you. For some, this may be hard to take, while it could also prove uncomfortable for the younger person giving orders to an older employee. Depending on the trade, you may be asked to complete tasks beneath your level of experience or past seniority.
Menial tasks are part and parcel of an apprenticeship, particular in the early years, and being asked to complete tasks by someone younger can be a dent to the pride for some. However, adult apprentices tend to be more mature, so in most instances, this isn’t a problem given the reasons for starting the apprenticeship in the first place.
You can be an asset to the business
Because you have life experiences, a certain level of maturity and professional skills from past employment, a prospective employer may see you as an asset to the company. You could be given tasks and responsibilities younger apprentices wouldn’t be trusted with, accelerating your learning rate.
Mature age apprentices tend to be more stable in their private lives and have been through the challenges that 16-20-year-olds face. While a younger apprentice may take some time to become accustomed to a work environment, an adult apprentice can hit the ground running and be productive immediately.
Qualities of a mature age apprentice
More life experience
As a mature age apprentice (depending on how old you are), you will generally have more life experience under your belt than your younger counterparts. Employers seek apprentices who can take on constructive criticism, take on instructions well and are easy to work with. As adult workers have more life experience, employers generally believe that they are easier to train as they have better life experience.
A great attitude
A reliable, positive attitude is valued highly, and employers within these industry areas generally believe that typical mature age apprentices possess these qualities.
This is not to say that younger apprentices lack passion – that’s not always the case! But many apprentices take breaks from their course because they have struggled to concentrate on their studies. They then return as a mature age student to finish off their course and gain their qualification. There is more certainty in mature age apprentices.
“I have been through life, so you have a bit more life experience. I’ve already been in work for 15 years, so I have a pretty good work ethic. And you can help a few of the younger kids, be a ‘dad’ in a way.”
When considering applying for an apprenticeship as an adult, you need to consider the consequences, particularly if you have family and financial commitments. If you’ve simply had a bad day at the office, it might be best to give it some time before making any significant career change decisions.
But once you’ve given it the serious consideration such a decision deserves, taking on an adult apprenticeship can be a great move. It can provide you and your family with the long term financial security you’re longing for, not to mention career satisfaction. If you’re confident in your decision to begin an apprenticeship, it’s handy to know where to look for one.
Mature age apprenticeships FAQ
Is there a maximum age for apprenticeships?
There’s no maximum age for Australian apprenticeships. Anybody can start an apprenticeship or traineeship, as long as they’re of working age, and eligible to work in Australia.
What apprenticeship pays the most?
While you can get an Australian apprenticeship in many fields, the majority of apprentices take up a trade. Some tradie jobs are actually very well-paid, and often blue-collar jobs take less time to start earning good money than white-collar professional jobs. Apprentices earn a fraction of a fully qualified tradie’s pay, but the highest-paying apprenticeships are generally in the highest-paying areas, which are listed below.
|Construction or site manager||$132,221||Strong growth|
Can a 50-year-old do an apprenticeship?
There’s no age limit on becoming an apprentice — anyone can do it, as long as you can legally work in Australia. But, like anything, there are pros and cons you should weigh up first. On the positive side, some over-50s are in a good financial position, with less financial stress and more free time than their younger counterparts. On the negative side, the physical challenges of many trade-based apprenticeships could be a roadblock, depending on how fit and healthy you are. Still, there are many apprenticeships which don’t require physical labour. They may suit someone with less strength and endurance.
Is 30 too old to learn a trade?
30 is certainly not too told to learn a trade. It’s not uncommon to start a new career in the trades at this age, and the benefits may far outweigh the risks. Paying attention at school isn’t easy for everyone, but mature age students often find that they have more focus, passion and dedication — since they’ve chosen this path for themselves, and genuinely want to do it. Need some inspiration? Brock West started a plumbing apprenticeship at age 31, and found that his life experience and work ethic gave him a leg up in his new course and new job. Likewise, Jason Dobrovoljhi left an apprenticeship in carpentry, only to return at age 29. He found a new appreciation for learning after time away from study.
Ready to get started?
Read How to Find the Apprenticeship You Want to learn all you need to know about the apprenticeship job hunt, including finding a Network Provider and how to find the perfect apprenticeship for you.
Interesting in a building or construction career?
This guide is your go-to source for information on the Australian building and construction industry. Learn all the steps you need to take to start your trade apprenticeship.
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