5 Jobs in Australia That Pay Surprisingly More Than You Would Expect


News emerged last week that at least one Sydney traffic controller — you know, the lollipop people working around construction sites — earns $3000 a week.

Granted, that’s 58 hours over six days but even so, that’s around $50 an hour, far more than the vast majority of Sydneysiders, and indeed, most Australians rake in.

Chloe Taouk revealed on TikTok that she earned $148 for a 15-minute shift and that a Sunday shift would net her $700 per day.

The average salary for a Sydney traffic controller is $130,000.

According to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, some traffic controllers earn as much as $180,000 per year thanks to Sydney’s booming construction industry.

For context, the base salary for a member of parliament is $200,000 per year.

If you’ve found yourself in a tight spot due to the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, here are a few career shifts you might consider that pay way more than you might expect.

Special effects makeup artist

A very niche, but highly lucrative career, those who turn the visions of directors and screenwriters into reality with the careful application of prosthetics and makeup can net themselves a tidy package.

According to Salary Expert, the average special effects makeup artist in Australia earns $115,907, or $56 an hour.

In addition, they earn an average bonus of $22,382.

An entry-level special effects makeup artist earns an average salary of $82,556 while a senior artist earns an average of $143,617.

While specialist training and dedication to the craft are a must-have here, jobs are few and far between and based largely on reputation. Getting yourself into some big productions is going to be key to build your portfolio but, with the mass exodus of Hollywood to the beaches of Byron Bay and Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, it might not be as hard as you would expect.

Online dating ghostwriter

Apparently, there are people out there willing to pay someone else to manage their dating life — who said romance is dead?

For a ghostwriter — someone who writes the dating profiles of individuals — you can earn up to $540 per profile if you’re at the top of your game.

Most apparently make somewhere in the region of $30 to $70 an hour.

It’s not just for profiles either. You can also be in charge of the messaging, meaning that the person you’re speaking with never actually has a conversation with your client and potential date until they meet up in person.

Trauma cleaner

Being a cleaner can be one of the hardest and least rewarding jobs. After all, no one really wants to clean up, even when it’s your own mess, so cleaning other peoples mess isn’t great.

Of course, the bigger the mess, the more money there is to be made. Trauma cleaners are at the top end of this spectrum.

It’s their job to clean up after incidents like murders, suicides, accidents, and a host of other grim scenarios where bio-waste has to be disposed of.

One trauma cleaner notes that he pulls in $400,000 per year cleaning up revolting student accommodation, the homes of hoarders, and long-deceased people whose remains have just been discovered.

There was even a book written about the subject.

HVAC technician

HVAC technicians oversee your humidity, temperature, and quality in your home or business.

It’s a technical trade, requiring between six months and three years of training for qualification and education but the rewards can be huge.

The average salary of an HVAC technician in Australia is $127,670 per year. Trade Risk says that this is the highest paid tradie job you can have.

Of course, this is the average, with some earning significantly less and some earning significantly more.

If you’re an HVAC technician, you’ll want to be based in Brisbane. The average salary of these workers in the Sunshine State is $142,000 per year. It probably has something to do with the heat up there.


Speaking of tradies, we’re all somewhat aware that manual labour gigs pay a decent chunk of change but the actual figures for these roles are pretty staggering.

Electricians are the second-highest-paid tradies in Australia after HVAC technicians.

2018 figures from Trade Risk suggest you can earn an average of $91,788 as an electrical contractor, however, Indeed.com puts the number much higher.

$151,289 per year is the average salary of a sparky according to them, with Sydney contractors raking in an average of $167,000 per year.

Of course, this is another technical trade that requires a lot of training but the rewards are pretty high.

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