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Our work lives revealed: top jobs and industries

Our work lives have been revealed in the latest release of data from the 2021 census, showing the top industries we’re employed in and the jobs we’re doing or studying towards.

The census last year was during a time of covid restrictions for much of Australia, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing 2.5 million of us working from home on census day.

Internet Publishing and Broadcasting had the highest proportion of people working from home (72%), while less than 5% of people employed in hospitals reported working from home.

The top occupations

The top three occupations have remained the same for the last three censuses, with Sales Assistants, Registered Nurses and General Clerks still the most popular.

Occupations that saw big growth compared to the previous census in 2016 include Aged and Disability Carer, IT Support and Test Engineers, and Software and App Programmers.

On the industry front, gin distilling has grown massively, with the data showing a 240% increase in people employed in spirit manufacturing. There’s also been a 50% increase in people employed in beer brewing. Cheers to that!

Here’s some highlights of the data:

Top 10 occupations

Sales Assistants (General)
Registered Nurses
General Clerks
Aged and Disabled Carers
Retail Managers
Primary School Teachers
Child Carers
Truck Drivers
Receptionists
Accountants

Top four industries

40% of the Australian workforce is employed in just four industries – Health Care, Retail, Construction and Education.

Most male dominated occupations

Bricklayers and Stonemasons
Plumbers
Sheetmetal Trades Workers
Carpenters and Joiners
Roof Tilers

However female representation is increasing in construction, with a 7% increase in females employed in the industry since the last census.

Most female dominated occupations

Midwives
Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers
Dental Assistants
Personal Assistants
Beauty Therapists

The youngest workforce

Probably no surprises here, with hospitality workers making up the youngest workers, with 45% of workers aged under 25 years in the Accommodation and Food Industry sector. Fast Food Cooks had a median age of 18 years old, followed by Café Workers at 21 years. 

The oldest workforce

A third of people working in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing are older than 60, compared to 11% for all industries, making them the oldest workforce groups.

Top areas for study

More than 11 million people in Australia have a vocational or tertiary qualification and the most popular fields of study are Business (same as in the 2016 census), Teaching, Nursing and Building, while Security Science (trying to prevent hacking and other security issues) is the fastest-growing field of study.