Call Now
  1. Home
  2. Guides
  3. Wage and pay
  4. Apprentice pay

Apprentice Pay

Published May 11, 2018 (last updated on May 17, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

female manager looks over female employee's work on laptop

Understanding apprentice pay can be complicated for business owners. In this guide, we will discuss who qualifies as an apprentice, and pay rates for Australian apprentices.

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is an employee who has been hired to learn a particular trade or profession on the job whilst completing studies to become a qualified tradesperson. Some examples of trades where apprentices are common are electrician, plumber, and hairdresser.

An apprentice has to have a training contract with their employer to qualify for apprentice pay rates. The training contract sets out terms and conditions relating to training and supervision. The apprentice must also attend a registered training organisation (RTO), such as a TAFE or trade school for assessment and additional off-the job-training. The training contract and a training plan prepared by the RTO must be approved and registered with an appropriate State or Territory Training Authority (STA). 

As the training contract usually only focuses on training obligations, it might be useful to have a separate employment contract to address employment specific matters.

Apprentices get the same entitlements as other employees, such as annual leave, sick leave, public holidays and breaks. Special minimum apprentice minimum pay and conditions may apply, and it is vital employers understand the specific rules of their industry award, as well as the training contract and employment contract.

Australian apprentice pay rates

Paying an apprentice may not be as simple as paying other employees. This is because the rate of pay is based on a number of different factors and considerations, which may include:

  • Industry award

  • Occupation award

  • Age

  • Terms and conditions of the registered training agreement

  • Length / duration of the apprenticeship (e.g. three or four year apprenticeship)

  • Prior learning (i.e.. how much training the apprentice has already completed)

  • Schooling (whether or not the employee is still attending school)

  • Qualification type e.g. Certificate III

  • Whether or not the employee completed year 12 and when

How these factors impact the apprentice’s wage will ultimately be decided by the provisions of the relevant industry award or instrument.

Get Workplace Advice Now

Call our team of expert advisers to get help with any wage and modern awards questions. 

Call 1300 651 415

Pay increases during an apprenticeship

During an apprenticeship, the apprentice will naturally learn new skills and become more competent in their job. When an apprentice progresses to the next level of their apprenticeship, they are usually entitled to increased minimum pay rates. Modes of progression will usually be outlined in the applicable industrial instrument. In most cases, progression is:

  • Time based – that is, the apprentice moves up to the next pay level after they have worked a certain amount of time (usually 12 months); and/or

  • Competency based – that is when the apprentice has attained the required skills to advance to the next stage of their apprenticeship (this can occur prior to the completion of the above time period).

How an apprentice completes the training depends on the employer, as long as the requirements of the training contract and the terms of the training agreement are met. Progress is dependent upon assessment of competency by the relevant RTO.

What pay applies after training is completed

Once the apprentice has completed their training and earned their trade certificate, their minimum pay rate must be raised beyond that of an apprentice to that for a trade qualified employee. The applicable minimum wage will be determined by the relevant occupation or industry award.

Adult apprentice wages and special conditions

Also known as a mature aged apprentice, an adult apprentice is anyone who is 21 years or older. Hiring an experienced adult apprentice can be good for business. To compensate for any prior experience an adult apprentice may bring to the job, the minimum award pay rates is usually higher than that of their juniors.

Discussions about the adult apprentice wage, availability, and special conditions can be carried out between the apprentice and employer with help from an authorised training provider.

Pay rates for traineeships

The pay and conditions for most trainees is decided by the Miscellaneous Award. They also receive other entitlements from the occupation or industry award that applies to them. These entitlements may include overtime, penalty rates and allowances.

Trainees fall into three categories:

  • Full-time trainee: A full-time trainee is employed under a training contract and will work for 38 hours per week. 

  • Part-time trainee: A traineeship can sometimes be completed part-time. The employee and employer need to agree on the duration of the part-time training contract. This also needs to be checked with the relevant state or territory training authority. 

  • School-based trainee: A school-based traineeship is done while someone is still in high school. This means an employee can stay in high school and simultaneously train for a work-related qualification. 

To help you better understand wages for Australian apprentices, minimum pay rates and how they apply to your business, call our FREE 24/7 Advice Line on 1300 651 415.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should Australian apprentices be paid?

Minimum pay rates for Australian apprentices depend on many factors, including:

  • The age of the apprentice
  • If they are still at school or have left school
  • If they have left school
  • How long ago they left school
  • How far advanced they are in their apprenticeship
  • The type of qualification they will receive when the apprenticeship is complete
  • The industry or occupation and the applicable award
  • Whether or not penalty rates apply
What Is the average traineeship wage in Australia?

Traineeship base rates differ greatly and will generally depend on the traineeship and whether the trainee has left school, and if so, when. Most traineeship wage rates are determined by the Miscellaneous Award 2020. Traineeships allow you to study for a vocational (rather than a trade) certificate qualification to work in a particular industry or occupation, for example office work, childcare or information technology. Traineeships generally take 1-2 years to complete.

Who pays for the apprentice’s training?

It will depend on the applicable award, but generally the employer pays the apprentice for both on-the-job and off-the-job training. 

Many awards say that employers also need to provide financial support by paying any compulsory fees and charges related to the training. These fees are set by the RTO and can include:

  • Costs of providing the training
  • Course and assessment materials
  • Costs for textbooks
  • Travel allowances
How much should a 17-year-old apprentice be paid?

The pay and conditions will depend on the applicable award and the qualification they are working towards, as well as other factors including whether they are still at school, or when they left school, when they started their apprenticeship, and whether or not penalty rates apply. 

Can an apprentice receive a pay increase?

Yes. An apprentice may get a pay increase under an award as they progress through the levels of an apprenticeship. They may also receive a pay increase when they have worked a certain amount of time, reached a particular age, or increased their competency.

Who qualifies as an adult apprentice?

The term ‘adult apprentice’ usually refers to an employee who starts their apprenticeship aged 21-years or older.

What is The Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy?

There are various Government incentives in respect of Australian apprenticeships available to eligible employers, aimed at helping them meet costs associated with an apprentice. However, this is outside the scope of the services that Employsure offers. Please see the Australian Government’s Australian Apprenticeships web page for more information about the incentives in a relevant state.

What are the benefits of hiring an apprentice?

The benefits of hiring an apprentice include developing staff with the skills your business needs most, while also providing employee development opportunities and increasing staff retention. 

Guides in this category

View All

Have a question?

Employsure Logo

Not a client yet?

1300 207 182

Existing clients call (AU)

1300 651 415

Existing clients call (overseas)

+61 2 8123 3640

Employsure HQ

Level 6/180 Thomas St, Sydney NSW 2000
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo

Copyright © 2024 Employsure Pty Ltd. ABN 40 145 676 026

Employsure Protect is a financial product issued by Employsure Mutual Limited ACN 630 256 478 (AFSL 544232). Employsure Mutual has appointed Employsure Pty Ltd as its Authorised Representative (No. 001274577) to distribute the product and provide general advice. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the Employsure Protect Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination.