Career change - looking for blue collar options/info/advice

Mid 30s, Sydney, been working in marketing at the $75-85k tier

Spent the last couple years massively stressed by the work, I'm thinking it's partly to do with chasing variable outcomes (ie. You have a target to hit, but there's so much variance in the result despite your efforts) and I believe I'm much more of a black-and-white 'produce/fix [X] thing' type of person.

All this has me contemplating getting out of the office and getting into a trade/labouring and I'd appreciate info/advice/thoughts on:

  • in the short term (up to 12-18 months), are there any jobs that could pay $65-70k without a ton of training? (am I dreaming?)
  • what kind of work would you recommend someone who likes to problem solve and stay mentally stimulated?
  • Ideally I'd like to be at the higher end of 5-figures within 5 years, willing to accept short term lowish wages for longer term financial stability
  • money aside, what would be the main challenges of becoming an apprentice in my mid 30s?

interested in exploring becoming an electrician, so any info related to that would be great too.



  • in the short term (up to 12-18 months), what kind of jobs could pay $65-70k without a ton of training? (am I dreaming?)

    You need to ask yourself why anyone would pay that money to someone with no skills specific to the job. Unless there's something you haven't mentioned in your post?

    what kind of work would you recommend someone who likes to problem solve and stay mentally stimulated?

    Maybe try another office-based job role? Maybe something to do with IT?

    Ideally I'd like to be at around 90-100k within 5 years, willing to accept short term lowish wages (~$55k) for longer term financial stability

    Again, you have to ask why you would be paid anything above minimum wage until you have specific skills you can contribute.

    money aside, what would be the main challenges of becoming an apprentice in my mid 30s?

    It's related to money, but the big one is seeking all your mates cracking on and making $100k+ in marketing (or whatever), while you're grinding away on low coin and corresponding lifestyle.

  • a bit out there but alot of the fella's I work with in mining usually come from other careers, eg tradies, stockbrokers, etc. might not be your field and it's not ideal if you have a young family, but it can pay very well and you only have to work half the year in most cases

  • Bus driver also hospital assistants make that kind of money or more with penalties. Probably wouldnt reach 90k long term

    • Hadn't thought of driving but been looking at hospital work as a short term solution while trying to figure out a direction. Cheers for the ideas

      • You could always try out nursing for a year. If you have a degree you can get into a two year masters. After the first two placements in first semester you can work as an AIN throughout your degree. RN salaries start at around 60k depending on state. Multiple pathways to a stable income of around 100k+ in 5 years by becoming a NUM/nurse educator/practitioner/consultant but you'd have to do more qualifications. There was a guy on whirlpool claiming he was earning 120k for 30 hours as a casual. Possible working nights on weekends I guess.

  • Jim's mowing? Police officer?

  • Plumber… if the guy that came past and did some work here about a week ago. Works for himself and charges about $140/h+ Down side… playing with poop pipes. But it shouldn’t be hard to do an apprenticeship and then get out and work on your own and be well into the $100k bracket within a few years.

    • The hardest part is finding someone willing to take on a mature age apprentice. I finished the electrical preapp a few years ago but couldn't get anything after searching for a year. Usually people want young apprentices because they get paid significantly less.

      • This is the kind of thing of I was wondering and looking to get answers on.

        Can you explain a bit more on the 'preapp'? When I was looking into it, tafe is saying you don't need an apprenticeship to do the cert III, but then go on to essentially say you must at least be employed in a relevant field… Sounds like the chicken-or-egg conundrum, and I don't know what the practical first step to take would be.

    • -3 votes

      "But it shouldn’t be hard to do an apprenticeship and then get out…"

      Spoken like someone who has no idea…

      • SpOkEn LiKe SoMeOnE WhO HaS nO iDeA…

        I have done two trade courses in my adult life (on top of the one I did as a teenager), most recently did my Locksmith trade and that trade I started at the ripe of age of 42. I now do part time side gig work as a locksmith and for the amount of hours I put in, it pays quite well. I did my time with a company that employed a locksmith and did my trade through them. I went through a training/apprenticeship organisation who found me a willing employer in a few weeks of applying.

        There are plenty of trades out there that would be willing to take anyone of any age and are generally stoked if someone is interested and is reliable, as the current crop of "kids" generally want too much money for too little work, don't want to learn, know it all already and think they are all instagram/twitch famous and that social media will fix all their woes.

        So, yeah, as someone who took on two apprenticeship trades post 30 years of age and now finds enough work for a side hustle, I would say, yes, I do have an idea.

        • Any recommendations on apprenticeship organisations? Would be really keen to take a look of you have any

          • @jetblack: The one I went through is called Sarina Russo. I went on their website and filled out some details after having looked on the "National Skill Shortage" information website and found a trade that interested me.

            I basically got assigned a case manager and they did all the leg work. They were pretty good at communicating with me about what I wanted and hope to achieve and found me an employer looking for trainees. The company I did my time for were happier they got a mature age student, as all the teenagers they tried, none of them finished 1st year.

            I cant speak for any other training or placement organisations, as I have only used this one. I am sure there will be someone who will come along and contradict with their own experience with this company. I think you just have to find the one that works best for you.

            Also, get on the TAFE website and when you have found a trade that you think you might like, look into doing some of the "introduction to…" courses they make available. These are great at letting you know if that trade is for you, will give you a taste of what it's like and some practical experience and shows a prospective employer that you are keen, having done some of the learning already.

  • I'm not sure if it'd be up your alley, but I've been working in corrections for 11 years, I'm 34 now. My base wage is $78k, and doing overtime, my pay is around the $120k mark per year. I work with other base COs who make $150k per year. I turn down promotional opportunities because I can make as much/more money with less responsibility. I do 12-14 hour shifts, averaging 78 hours a fortnight over 6 weeks. This means sometimes I work a rostered 50 hour week (without overtime). But I also get 7 weeks annual leave, 5 weeks of sick leave. With the long hours/shift work/night shift, I am rostered for maybe 7 months of the year, if that makes sense. I get plenty of rostered time off to do what I want.

    I am in Vic though, working for a private company, so I get paid more than the equivalent government facility (but I do NOT get penalty rates for weekends, nights or 99% of public holidays), and I am working in maximum security.

    Even though my thoughts towards corrections and private industry have changed drastically over my time of working there, (as in, I think western corrections ideas are a complete failure, private industry is absolutely horrible for essential industries such as this) I'm much more left leaning in my ideas and politics compared to when I started. But I look at it as simply a means to an end, and I'm smart enough to realise I'm too stupid to do anything else and make as much money.

    If you are after a change of scenery, job security, decent wage with overtime opportunities, (career progression is much more vast within government corrections too) give it a shot. There seems to be a high turn over rate of staff, where I work anyway, but we are always looking for new staff, from all walks of life, who can bring different skill sets to the table.

    It definitely isn't a job for everyone, but thats up for you to decide.

    I'm sure NSW corrections would be similar to what I've described. Good luck in your search.

    • Would be awesome if one day you did an AMA.

    • hey mate - id love to get into this but im in a different chapter of my life (early 20s, finishing up uni). can I dm you?
      also - is it hard to get into? im in vic too. seems like a nice gig?

    • I worked in corrections once too.

      Had a job as a product tester at the Liquid Paper Factory.

  • in the short term (up to 12-18 months), are there any jobs that could pay $65-70k without a ton of training? (am I dreaming?)
    what kind of work would you recommend someone who likes to problem solve and stay mentally stimulated?

    You could probably use your marketing experience and move into Project Comms or even Change Management. Both are really about framing messages and communicating to different stakeholders via various channels.

    Both roles would probably be closer to your current salary. A senior change manager/lead (5+ years exp.) is usually a $120k plus role.

    • hey mate - how would one get into change management with relatively low experience except for corporate and b2b sales? any ideas?

      • If you are in a decent size company get in contact with any Project manager or PMO and let them know you are looking to getting into change management. Likely depending on experience they will get you doing project admin first (schedule, reporting, minutes/actions), hopefully with a chance to prepare the comms and change plans also. It is really unlikely they will say no as almost every project needs additional resources due to one reason or another.

        If you aren't in a decent size company, i'd keep my eye out for any project admin or project coordinator role and build up from there.

        I reckon sales would be a good background, probably more than half the time you are trying to 'sell' why the project is a good idea and will improve peoples jobs.

        Also, I only heard about this yesterday, seems to be the main certification for Change Management.