Apprentice & trainee pay rates

Annual Wage Review – 1 September 2021 changes

From 1 September 2021, minimum wages in the Retail Award are increasing. Updated minimum rates are now available in our pay tools. See our Annual Wage Review 2021 page for more information.

Apprentices and trainees are employees who have a formal training contract with their employer. Special rates and conditions apply to these employees.

Apprentice pay

Use our Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate pay rates for all apprentices including:

  • adult apprentices (an apprentice who is 21 years or older when they start their apprenticeship)
  • school-based apprentices (an apprentice who still goes to high school while completing the apprenticeship).

If you're covered by a registered agreement, check the rates in the agreement.

An employee can only be paid apprentice pay rates if they have a formal training contract with their employer. The training has to be registered and recognised by a state or territory training authority. These employees do their training through a Registered Training Organisation such as a TAFE.

Apprentice pay rates will depend on how long the apprenticeship is and how much training the apprentice has done.

Pay increases during an apprenticeship

There are 2 ways an apprentice can move to the next level of an apprenticeship:

  • time-based - the apprentice moves up to the next pay level after they've worked a certain amount of time (for example, 12 months)
  • competency-based - the apprentice moves to the next pay level when they've achieved a set amount of the total skill or training requirements of the apprenticeship (which might be earlier than 12 months).

Which one applies depends on the award that covers them. Go to apprentice entitlements and select your award for more information.

What pay applies after training is completed

After an apprentice has finished their apprenticeship they get paid the tradesperson's pay rate. Use our Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate pay rates.

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Trainee pay

Use our Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate trainee rates.

Most trainees get their pay and conditions related to their training from Schedule E in the Miscellaneous Award. They get their other entitlements (such as penalty rates, overtime and allowances) from the industry or occupation award that covers them.

Some trainees get their pay rates from their industry or occupation award.

Employers and trainees should check their award to confirm where their pay and entitlements come from.

Understanding the different types of traineeships

Full-time trainee

A full-time trainee is employed under a training contract to work for 38 hours per week.

Part-time trainee

A traineeship can sometimes be done 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.

Employers should contact their state or territory training authority for more information about their obligations when terminating a training contract. Visit our Apprentices and trainees page for a list of state and territory training authorities.

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 train for a qualification at the same time.

Payment for time spent in training

Trainees are paid for time spent attending training or assessment related to their traineeship unless they are:

  • a school-based trainee
  • a part-time trainee whose training is wholly off-the-job.

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Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy

Apprentices and trainees need to receive their normal pay rates and entitlements if their employer is participating in the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) wage subsidy.

Most awards and agreements have rules about what happens when employees start an apprenticeship or traineeship with their existing employer. These rules prevent an employer reducing an employee’s minimum wage after becoming an apprentice or trainee. Check which award applies to you using our Find my award tool.

For more information about the BAC wage subsidy, including eligibility and payment amounts, go to Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements external-icon.png on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

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Employer Advisory Service

Our Employer Advisory Service (EAS) gives eligible small businesses free tailored written advice on pay and entitlement issues.

The EAS helps small business employers make informed decisions about employee entitlements and other workplace issues, including:

  • entitlements under the National Employment Standards
  • award provisions
  • other pay and employee entitlements.

The service assists employers in understanding and complying with pay and entitlement obligations under awards and the Fair Work Act.

If you’re a small business employer, learn more about the service, to see if you’re eligible and find out how to access it at Employer Advisory Service – overview.

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Tools and resources

Related information

Help for small business

Find tools, resources and information you might need in our Small business showcase.

Think a mistake might have been made?

Mistakes can happen. The best way to fix them usually starts with talking.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical advice on:

  • figuring out if a mistake has been made
  • talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
  • getting help from us if you can't resolve it.

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