Western Australia is the largest state in Australia, covering up to a third of the country and offering a wide array of lifestyle options for graduates looking for a graduate job. Western Australia experienced a significant mining boom, which was accompanied by an influx of interstate migration and a rise in not only employment opportunities but a dramatic increase in housing prices.
The mining boom was followed by six years of economic decline as major resources projects were completed, and the Western Australian economy is recovering, with positive economic growth. Diversifying the economy is essential to reduce the reliance on the mining and public sector to create further employment opportunities.
Salaries in the state are relatively high, with a cost of living that is more affordable than Sydney and Melbourne but less affordable than Brisbane and Adelaide. The weather in the south of Western Australia is described as the Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot, dry summers, whilst the northern half of Western Australia is very hot throughout the year, with areas such as Broome experiencing tropical weather all year round. Western Australia offers endless pristine beaches, national parks and a laid back capital city. For students looking for a graduate job, Western Australia offers a lifestyle unparalleled by other states and territories in Australia.
Figure 1: Number of employing businesses in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
Western Australia is home to 13% of all Australian jobs and pays its employees 11.3% of all employment income around Australia. The number of employing businesses puts the state in fourth place when compared to other locations around Australia, with Western Australia home to 85,021 employing businesses compared to New South Wales, which has over 300,000 employing businesses. The percentage of graduates who find work in Western Australia is slightly lower than the total percentage of Australian workers, with 9.4% of Australia’s graduates gaining employment in the state.
Figure 2: Per cent of total employment per industry in Western Australia (WA)
Similarly to most regions in Australia, a high percentage of the workforce in Western Australia are employed in health care and social assistance, as well as retail trade, professional, scientific and technical services. A notable difference in Western Australia’s economy is the high percentage of its workforce employed in construction and mining, employing 6.8% and 10% of the Western Australian workforce. Sectors which employ the lowest percentage of the workforce in Western Australia include utilities, information media and telecommunications.
Figure 3: Employment status of graduates with bachelor degrees in Western Australia (WA)
Most university graduates in Western Australia have been able to secure employment with 66% in full-time work and 22% employed in part-time or casual jobs. 12% of graduates who are available for work have been unable to secure a job – a graduate unemployment rate not far from the national average.
Figure 4: Annual growth rates in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
Western Australia’s growth rate has slowed but is still projected to grow at a faster rate than South Australia and Tasmania. Industries in Western Australia which are expected to experience the most positive growth include health care and social assistance, arts and recreation services, education and training as well as accommodation and food services. Industries experiencing a decline include mining, utilities, agriculture, forestry and fishing, whilst manufacturing and wholesale trade are experiencing very modest levels of growth.
Figure 5: Annual growth rate across industries in Western Australia (WA)
Figure 6: Unemployment rates in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
Western Australia has the fourth-lowest rate of unemployment, for youth and for all adults aged 15 and over. The state’s youth unemployment rate of 13% is lower than that of Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. Western Australia’s unemployment rate for all adults aged 15 and over is slightly below the national average.
Figure 7: Graduate unemployment rates in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
The graduate unemployment rate in Western Australia is a contrast, with the state having the second-highest unemployment rate for graduates in the country. Western Australia’s graduate unemployment rate of 12.4% is higher than the national average and only lower than Tasmania's high rate of 15.8%. Entry into graduate programs in Western Australia are competitive - we recommend securing a graduate job before moving to the state and registering with GradAustralia for the latest graduate job vacancies.
Figure 8: Per cent of total employment by occupation in Western Australia (WA)
Professionals make up the biggest proportion of the Western Australia workforce with 23.8% of jobs being in a professional capacity. Technicians and trades workers account for a further 21.4%, and managers another 14.7%. Sales workers fill the least common occupation at 5.3% of the workforce, labourers representing 6.8%, and community workers making up another 7.1%. Western Australia has the second-lowest concentration of full-time professionals in the workplace when compared to the other states and territories, at 14.7%.
Figure 9: Percentage of full-time employees working as professionals in Western Australia (WA)
GradAustralia conducted a survey of graduates throughout the country and found that the top 5 roles in Western Australia are:
In terms of wage, Western Australia is a reasonably attractive option for graduates who are looking for a graduate job. Salaries in Western Australia are high when compared with other states and territories. The median income for the state is $51,953, which is the third-highest in the country. The mean income is the second-highest in Australia, sitting at $66,344. That represents a big gap, with the mean salary of 27.7% above the median, suggesting there are some jobs that pay a disproportionate amount, providing more opportunities for graduates who build a successful career.
Figure 11: Median graduate starting salary in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
At $57,000 per annum, the median graduate starting salary is the third highest in Australia. Sitting at $3,000 above the national average, the Western Australian graduate starting salary is second only to ACT and the Northern Territory. That figure can increase significantly depending on the discipline. There are many areas which offer far higher salaries than the median wage. Health and medical science, along with humanities, arts and social sciences offer graduates an impressive $93,000. The next most lucrative industries in Western Australia are the sciences and engineering, maths, IT, and computer sciences.
Figure 12: Average graduate starting salary by discipline in Western Australia (WA)
Figure 13: Average work hours per week for graduates in Western Australia (WA)
While the average starting salary might be attractive, that doesn’t mean that workers in Western Australia have to make up for it with vastly inflated work hours. At 93%, the largest proportion of graduates work between 30-50 hours per week. Another 6% of graduates in Western Australia work 50-60 hours per week, with only 1% working 60-70 hours per week.
Figure 14: Average graduate working hours per week in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
Figure 14: Average graduate job satisfaction score in Western Australia (WA) vs other states
While many starting salaries are relatively high and the number of hours worked through the week is relatively low, graduates who were surveyed by GradAustralia gave some of the lowest scores for graduate job satisfaction, compared with other Australian regions. With a score of 8.4, Western Australia is slightly below the national average for job satisfaction.
Figure 15: Graduate diversity rating in Western Australia (WA) vs other states/territories
According to graduates who work in the state, Western Australia has a greater amount of diversity in the workplace than any other region in Australia. Graduates working in Western Australia gave it an average diversity score of 8.8, which is above the national average of 8.5 and the highest score in the country.
Figure 16: Male and female participation rates by industry in Western Australia (WA)
Just less than half of the workforce in Western Australian is female, with an average female participation rate of 43.1%, similar to most regions in Australia. Women are more heavily represented in some industries, including healthcare and social assistance, education and training. Similarly to other states and territories, the industries with the lowest female participation rates include construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, postal and warehousing.
Figure 17: Median graduate starting salary for males and females in Western Australia (WA) vs other cities
There is some disparity in pay between male and female graduates in Western Australia. The median starting salary for male graduates with a bachelor degree is $58,000 per year, while their female counterparts start on an average of $56,100. These averages are higher than the national average, second only to the ACT and Northern Territory.
GradAustralia conducted a survey of graduates throughout the country and found that the most sought-after employers in Western Australia include:
To secure a graduate job in Western Australia we recommend checking the job listings on the GradAustralia website and signing up for updates from GradAustralia. In addition, graduates should consider attending career fairs where there are opportunities to meet employers who offer graduate programs.
The following events provide opportunities to students of all disciplines:
Universities also offer various career events to help you learn more about your career options and employers:
Many employers also offer’ entry-level’ jobs that are not specifically advertised as ‘graduate’ jobs. Keep an eye out for these on job boards such as SEEK.
If you're set on Western Australia but still not sure what you want to do, or if you haven't had any luck locking down a graduate job, you might want to consider:
If you’re not sure if Western Australia is the right place for your graduate job, consider reading our moving guide to Perth, for an idea of what life might be like as a graduate in the state.