Various specialist trades in Australia—such as plumbers, air conditioning specialists, painters, gas fitters, builders, carpenters and electricians—are experiencing a boom. These are all important to the country as the national construction industry contributes over 6 per cent to the nation’s GDP. Specialist trades offer lucrative prospects and high development potential. Aside from educational and work-related qualifications, the country adheres to strict licensing requirements and safety standards for licensed jobs.

Tradesmen qualifications and licensing

In Australia, tradesmen qualifications are based on the amount of supervision a worker requires and the level of expertise. Most tradesmen must have a valid license in order to be hired for projects with materials that are worth more than $1,000, depending on the state. Tradesperson certificates, qualified supervisors and contractor are the three main types of qualifications.


A contractor is an individual whose qualifications and experience enable him to work without supervision. In order to get a contractor license, the individual must show evidence of completion of one or more of the following:
  • Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management
  • Contractors Management or Building level IV certificate
  • Diploma in Building
  • Level 4 and Level 5 Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) in Business Management for Building and required units in Small Business Management such as ownership structures, business law and business finance or completion of two required topics from the CQ University articulation module.

Qualified Supervisor License

This is for an individual who has significant amount of experience and qualifications in particular trades, such as underpinning, waterproofing, tiling, landscaping, plumbing, painting, joinery, wet and dry plastering, fencing, flooring, carpentry or bricklaying. The individual must demonstrate vast experience in industrial, commercial and residential building projects or either a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management or Level IV certificate in Site Management, Construction and Building. Aside from that, an applicant should have completed competency in structural principles of construction applicable to medium-rise buildings, on-site planning and supervision, and building codes and standards.

Tradesperson Certificate

This is for an individual who shows skills in his specific trade although his work must be checked and approved by a contractor or supervisor. The application for a license should include proof of completion of one or more of these:
  • Australian Recognised Trade Certificate
  • Apprenticeship signed by a vocational training authorised provider
  • Certificate of proficiency
  • Certificate issued by the IAME or TAFE (level III or IV) in their areas of expertise
  • Certificate from an authorised training group confirming the individual’s competency in jobs related to building and construction
Skills assessment is necessary for all types of tradesmen whether they received their competencies in Australia or overseas. A license applicant might also be required to receive a relevant Australian context gap training.