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When can I start work?

A big part of growing up is starting work. It can be great to have some extra money for yourself, feel more independent, as well as learning the skills you’ll need in the workforce for the rest of your life.

But before you get too keen, there are some things you need to know before you rush out and start applying.

What age can I start working?

The minimum age for starting work is different depending on the state or territory you live in. Take a look at the information we’ve gathered below.

Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, you can start work from any age you like. However, young people under the age of 15 may only be employed in what is considered “light work”. Your employer will also need written parental consent if you are under 15.

New South Wales

There are no minimum age restrictions to start work in New South Wales. However, if you are under 15 there may be some restrictions on the type of work you can do and how many hours you can work.


The minimum working age in Queensland is 13 (for work other than in entertainment). But you can be as young as 11 for a supervised paper delivery job.


In Victoria you must be 13 before you can start work (in any industry other than entertainment). However if you are under the age of 15, your employer will need to apply for a license to employ children. If you are 11 you can get a paper delivery job, and you can work at any age in a family business.

South Australia

There is no minimum age to start work in South Australia. But keep in mind that your age may restrict you from working certain hours.

Western Australia

The minimum work age in Western Australia depends on what work you are doing. Children of any age can work in a family business, in entertainment, or for a charity. Between 10 and 12, you can work in a paper delivery job, but only if you are supervised. If you are 13 or 14, you can do all of the above, as well work in retail.

If you are under 15, you will always need written permission from a parent to start work.

Northern Territory

There is no minimum age to start work in the Northern Territory, however the types of work you can do and your hours may be restricted if you are under the age of 15, or if it will interfere with your education.


There is no minimum age to start part-time or casual work in Tasmania. However, you may be limited in the types of work you can do and your hours.

What other restrictions are there?

There are also restrictions other than age to consider when starting work. These include how many hours per day or week you are allowed to work, when you are allowed to work, and if you are allowed to leave school to work.

Australian Capital Territory

If you are under the age of 15, you are only allowed to work up to 10 hours per week. Up to 17 years of age, you are not permitted to work during school hours (with the exception of the school holidays). Your work must also not interfere with your education or training in any way. This means that you might not be allowed to work late at night or early in the morning.

You must remain in full-time education until you complete Year 10. After this, you must remain in either full-time education, training, or work until you finish Year 12 or turn 17.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, under the age of 15 you aren’t allowed to work during school hours. You can’t work more than one shift a day, and for more than 5 days in a row. You can’t work for more than 4 hours total on a school day. You can’t work later than 9.00pm if you have school the next day. You must not work and attend school for more than 50 hours a week combined.

You must remain in school until you finish Year 10. You can then choose to either stay at school, find an apprenticeship or traineeship, engage in higher education or VET, or start working full-time.


In Queensland, you cannot work during school hours, or between 10.00pm and 6.00am. On a school day, you can work up to 4 hours, and 12 hours total during a school week. On non-school days, you can work up to 8 hours, and up to 38 hours total during non-school weeks.

You must stay in school until you turn 16, or finish Year 10 (whichever comes first). After this you can leave school to work full-time, or participate in a combination of education and training.


During the school term, you can only work up to 3 hours per day and up to 12 hours per week. You can’t work during school hours. You aren’t allowed to work between 9pm and 6am. Outside of the school term, you can work up to 6 hours a day and a maximum of 30 hours per week.

You aren’t allowed to leave school until you turn 17. However, once you finish Year 10, you no longer have to attend a school campus – but you must still participate in education, training, or employment for a minimum of 25 hours a week.

South Australia

In South Australia, you aren’t allowed to work during compulsory school hours under the age of 16. You also can’t work at times that might affect your education or training, such as late at night or early in the morning.

You must attend school until you turn 16. After this, you can either stay and complete your schooling, participate in an approved learning program (such as an apprenticeship), or work full-time. You may be able to leave school to work full-time once you turn 15 with an exemption.

Western Australia

You are allowed to work in Western Australia as long as it doesn’t interfere with your schooling. If you are of compulsory school age, you can’t work during school hours, and under the age of 15, you can’t work between 10.00pm and 6.00am.

If you want to leave school after Year 10, you will need to apply for an exemption through the Minister for Education and Training. You must still remain in a combination of education, training, or employment.

Northern Territory

In the NT, young people can’t work between the hours of 10.00pm and 6.00am. You can’t work during hours you’re supposed to be at school.

You must stay in school until you finish Year 10 or turn 15 years old. After this, you can decide to continue on with your education, or participate in a combination of approved education and/or training and employment until you are 17.


In Tasmania, you aren’t allowed to work during school hours.

Usually you must stay in school until you finish Year 12, complete a Certificate III qualification, or turn 18. However, if you have completed Year 10, you may apply for an exemption if you would like to leave school to work full-time.

Other restrictions

Keep in mind that as well as all of the above, individual employers might also have their own separate policies about employing young people. For example, McDonald’s has a minimum age policy of 14, regardless of whether legislation in your state or territory allows you to work earlier than this.

If there’s a place you’d really like to work, make sure you get in contact with them first and ask whether or not they have a minimum age policy.

Where can I find more information?

If you want to know more about starting work, there are plenty of handy resources out there you can check out. You can find them all on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website here.

Keen to learn more about careers? Check out our Careers page for information about your dream career area, tips to get your first job, and more.


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