The definitive guide to finding work in Cairns

18 November 2019

The definitive guide to finding work in Cairns

This is part One in our three part series on employment in Cairns. Read Part Two and Part Three.

Cairns is an amazing place to live and work. From the pristine beaches, spectacular rainforests and not to mention being situated right next to the Great Barrier Reef, what’s not to love about Cairns? And the great news is that the job market in Cairns is currently booming [1]. If you’re living in Cairns with disability and looking for work, that’s where CoAct can help.

In Queensland, one in five people have disability.

And like anyone, finding a job that you enjoy and get meaning from is one of the fundamental aspects of living a fulfilled life [2].

CoAct is a national leader in Disability Employment Services, specialising in helping people with disability, illness or health conditions find and keep sustainable jobs.

In Cairns, we have an awesome team of friendly, experienced employment consultants (photo below) who live and breathe the Cairns job market. They are connected to local employers and community support and are the experts in finding the right job for our Cairns customers.

The wonderful team at Cairns 

The definitive guide to finding work in Cairns: Written by locals, for locals!

Our team of local Cairns legends have helped us pull together the definitive guide to finding a job in Cairns right now, specifically for people who live with disability, a mental illness, health condition or an injury.

What does the job market in Cairns actually look like?

The Cairns region has the largest employment rate of all Tropical North Queensland. Compared to other regions in Far North Queensland, the Cairns unemployment rate is below the overall average and is currently the state’s strongest performing region [3]. This is great news for job seekers as it means that there’s more jobs readily available.

October is the peak month for the highest employment rate, with around 120,700 people having jobs in Cairns at that time of the year. At the time of writing this article, there were 684 full-time and 386 part-time jobs available in the Cairns region advertised on seek.

If you’re located in the outer regions, you’ll be interested to know that there are currently:

  • 264 full-time and 157 part-time roles advertised on seek for Port Douglas, with many of the jobs advertised being in hospitality and tourism, and the healthcare industry.
  • If you’re located in the Atherton region, there’s currently 787 full-time and 367 part-time opportunities advertised on seek, predominately in community services and construction industries.
  • For the Innisfail/Tully region, there’s currently 241 full-time and 141 part-time roles mainly in trades and services, construction, farming, education and training, and community services.
  • And for the Mossman region, there’s currently 296 full-time positions and 146 part-time opportunities advertised mainly in the farming, animals and conservation, trades and services, hospitality and tourism, and administration and office support sectors.

In recent times there’s been a real rise in a number of industries:

  • Healthcare and social assistance e.g. jobs in hospitals, medical and other healthcare. services, residential care (is a biggie). Some employers that have taken on employees include, Bupa, Infinite Care, 10 Years Younger, Life Without Barriers, A Good Start to Life, Cairns Hospital,
  • Retail trade e.g. jobs in motor vehicle retailing, fuel retailing, food retailing, other store-based retail including Cairns Hardware.
  • Construction e.g. jobs in building construction, heavy and civil engineering construction, construction services. Don’t think that you’re limited, there’s been a number of successful employees obtaining jobs in the regions from various employees for example, 1300 Truck Services and the Red Dog Group.
  • Accommodation and food services e.g. jobs in hotels, cafes, fast food restaurants etc. for example kitchenhands for various bowling clubs, aged care facilities (e.g. through Cater Care).

Full-time employment on the rise in Cairns

There’s been a significant growth in full-time employment in Cairns. In fact, full-time employment jobs increased by 7,243 between 2012 -13 and 2017-18 [4]. Ian says one reason could be that “people are realising they can make a really good life up here.”

The largest changes in the jobs held by the full-time equivalent local workers between 2012-13 and 2017-18 in Cairns were for those employed in:

  • Manufacturing (+1,512 full-time equivalent local workers)
  • Construction (+1,342 full-time equivalent local workers)
  • Healthcare and social assistance (+965 full-time equivalent local workers)
  • Administrative and support services (+649 full-time equivalent local workers) [5].

In Cairns, healthcare and social assistance is the largest industry employing people, generating 9,191 full-time jobs in 2017-18 [6].

So, it’s safe to say that now is the best time to look for full-time employment in Cairns, as there’s an abundance of jobs available right now. In fact, at the time of writing this article, there were over 684 fulltime jobs available, compared to 386 part-time, contract/temp and casual/vacation advertised on Seek.

There’s several reasons why full-time employment in Cairns is increasing. For example:

  • There recently was a 10-million-dollar grant awarded for the creation of a Job Hub. This saw approximately 70 jobs created.
  • There’s currently a new construction project happening in Gordonvale (half an hour outside of Cairns CBD). The project sees the creation of a mini-city that will stimulate economic activity, increase employment, encourage investment and support population growth in these communities.
  • Plain but simple – people are realising you can make a good life up in Cairns. More and more people are locating to Cairns – resulting in an increase in jobs.


Illustration of staff member sitting at her work desk

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