Trades & Services

The trades and services industry makes up a large part of the Australian economy, but it might be an area where many are unfamiliar with exactly what it’s responsible for and the vast range of career opportunities available!

The trades and services industry comprises several sectors that contribute to the export of professional services outside of Australia. These services promote Australia as a place to visit or support Australians taking their valuable knowledge and skills elsewhere. It also accounts for importing and exporting goods to and from Australia, particularly mined resources and agricultural produce.

Some of the biggest trades and services areas within the industry include:

  • Education Related Services. (including international study).
  • Travel Related Services.
  • Financial Services & Technology.
  • Business Services (including IT).
  • Energy and Mining Services.
  • Agriculture and premium foods.

Australia is considered a world-class provider of a range of services, like the ones above, which helps keep Australia competitive in a global market economy. It also allows professionals to learn and engage on an international level to gain new ideas that can better support Australian communities in positive ways.

The types of career pathways available across the industry are vast, but a core component is customer service. As pretty much all of these trades and service sectors focus on supporting others, customer service is a vital skill to engage, guide and deliver a positive experience to a wide range of individuals.

Because the range of sectors is so diverse, there can be lots of variety to build a career in the industry. Exciting careers exist both in Australia and overseas.

Here are a few key reasons why you might choose to work in the trades and services industry:

  • Interesting work supporting Australia’s trade and investment development at a global level.
  • Meeting and networking with people from all over the world.
  • Opportunity to work internationally and travel.

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, with many different opportunities to build a budding career.

Whichever segment interests you, there are multiple ways to begin exploring this exciting and competitive field!

What You Could Do

Job roles in the industry are varied, and there’s no clearly defined pathway into many of these careers.


The best way to learn more and help form decisions about the roles available and what you might be suited for is to conduct as much research as you can and build a profile from there.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Trade Support Assistant: Trade support assistants can work across different sectors, and many will be specialised in one area. Working under a Senior Trader or Investment Manager, trade support assistants help with client relations, investment strategy, reporting and risk mitigation. The role has a range of duties and responsibilities and is usually stationed within a business, finance or accounting department. The role requires a large amount of specialist knowledge alongside incredible administrative skills.
  • International Student Recruitment Officer: International student recruitment officers work across a portfolio of countries to promote, guide and advise potential students on studying either within Australia generally or for a specific university. They need specialist knowledge of the Australian education system, as well as knowledge about visas, international student finance, and course requirements across a range of subjects. They act as the first point of contact for students wishing to travel to Australia to attain their further and higher education qualifications. They usually also assist with helping new students settle in and find their feet in their new country.
  • Import Export Officer: Import Export officers verify and maintain incoming and outgoing goods within a market segment. This might be for agriculture and food products or other valuable materials such as mined goods and products. They help prepare goods for despatch, arrange international clearance, transport and collect imported cargo from customs. The role requires excellent import/export knowledge for not only the sending countries but the receiving countries, and you’ll need exceptional attention to detail to ensure deliveries are carried out without any issues.
  • Tourism Officer: One of the core sectors within trades and services is recreational travel and tourism. Tourism officers can work for the country or states and promote and attract travellers to Australia/Australian states. They work on PR and related activities globally, building international partnerships and working with local governments to create a positive reputation that encourages people to travel to the country/state.
  • Services Trade Policy Officer: All sectors within trades and services are regulated and required to adhere to policies and legal requirements. Services trade policy officers work to help develop policies and legal requirements for specific sectors to ensure everyone works safely, positively and beneficially for all involved. The role works closely with local, national and international governments to stay on top of global developments and ensures developed policies are a fair reflection of international markets while still allowing workers in each sector to do a good job.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface! As with many other industries, many additional support roles keep this industry moving, including administrative, accounting, marketing, human resources, and IT professionals.

Graduate Outcomes & Gender Split

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

While there is no set degree subject you should study to get into this industry, and what you choose to study will also be dependent on the sector you want to move into, there are some great options out there to get started with a career in trades and services. These include:

  • Agriculture and Environmental Studies
  • Business and Management
  • Economics and Finance

Here’s a look at some degrees that could be a great starting point for this industry:

  • Agriculture and Environmental Studies Graduates in full-time employment: 67.4%
  • Agriculture and Environmental Studies Graduates in employment overall: 84.4%
  • Business and Management Graduates in full-time employment: 74.3%
  • Business and Management Graduates in employment overall: 86.4%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

*Figures from 2020 survey results.

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within. There is little information about the percentages of men and women working across this industry.

Because the industry is so varied and wide, there will be different pockets of women and men working across the different sectors.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Trade Support Assistant Roles: $56-$60,100
  • Senior Trader Roles: $100-$157,000
  • International Student Recruitment Officer: $71-$87,000
  • Tourism Officer Roles: $71-$90,000
  • Services and Trades Policy Officer: $92-$122,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles. Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the trades and services sector makes up a large part of the Australian economy, representing over 70% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing four out of every five Australians.

Services represent around 40% of Australia’s export earnings. Australia is already considered a world-class provider of a range of services, including education, tourism, financial services, energy and mining-related services, environmental services and financial technology (FinTech). These areas are expected to continue to grow between now and 2024.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trades and services have been impacted globally, but there have been some major developments across the sector particularly across technology.

Although the industry is expected to recover, opportunities across technology-focused roles will see a higher demand in the coming years.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Depending on the sector you want to pursue a career in, a degree can set you up well with the specialised foundation of knowledge you’ll need.

Some bachelor programs you could pursue could include:

  • Bachelor of Economics and Finance
  • Bachelor of Business and Management
  • Bachelor of Tourism
  • Bachelor of Environmental Policy
  • Bachelor in International Relations

For some pathways, vocational education and training (VET) courses can offer specialised and valuable springboards into some trades and services careers.

Pathway options might include:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can start a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship from Yr 9 and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many organisations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a robust skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

Some of the best-rated universities for economics and business include:

  • Monash University
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Queensland Australia
  • Australian National University
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Deakin University

Where to Learn More

You can find out more about different trades and services pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.