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Is FIFO Work
Worth It?

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Deciding whether to pursue FIFO (Fly-In Fly-Out) work is a significant decision that impacts not just your career but also your lifestyle. This type of employment, common in industries like mining and construction, involves traveling to remote work sites for certain periods, then returning home for breaks. It’s a unique arrangement that offers both challenges and rewards. Understanding what FIFO work entails, from the qualifications needed to the lifestyle it leads to, is crucial before diving in. Ultimately, you want to be certain that FIFO work is worth it and compatible with your own sensibilities and preferences.

FIFO is a highly beneficial work arrangement for individuals who value high earnings and substantial time off, and can handle the physical and emotional challenges of demanding remote work and regular travel. It suits those adaptable to the FIFO lifestyle’s demands, offering financial and personal rewards despite its hardships.

This guide aims to provide a straightforward overview, helping you determine if FIFO work aligns with your career goals and personal life.

What Is FIFO Work?

FIFO mining employees

FIFO work stands for Fly-In Fly-Out work. It’s a type of employment where you’re hired to work at remote sites, far from urban centres and often not easily accessible by regular means. Because these locations can be so remote, commuting daily isn’t feasible. Instead, employers arrange for workers to fly to the work site, where they live for a set period of work days, often in company-provided accommodations. After completing their rostered stint—typically ranging from a week to several weeks—workers are flown back home to enjoy their days off before the cycle repeats.

This work model is prevalent in industries that operate in isolated areas. Mining, oil and gas extraction, and large construction projects are sectors where FIFO roles are commonly found. These industries require a skilled workforce on-site to manage and carry out operations that are critical to their functioning but are located in areas where people don’t usually live due to the lack of facilities or the harsh environment.

The appeal of FIFO work lies in its structured schedule, which offers clear delineations between work and personal time. Workers can focus entirely on their job while on-site without the distractions of daily life. Then, during their off-time, they can spend uninterrupted periods with family and friends, pursuing personal interests or simply relaxing, without the worry of work hanging over them.

The concept of FIFO work addresses the challenge of staffing remote operations with skilled workers by offering a compromise: employees can maintain their home base in more populated areas while still taking on work that is physically located in remote or less accessible regions. It offers a solution to the logistical problem of operating in isolation, providing both employment opportunities to individuals and necessary personnel to industries operating in these remote settings.

What Qualifications Do I Need For FIFO?

qualifications you might need for FIFO jobs

The qualifications you need for FIFO work largely depend on the sector and role you’re aiming for. The range of positions and industries that offer FIFO work is vast, from hands-on trades to professional and support positions, each with its own set of requirements.

For trade roles, such as electricians, mechanics, miners, and welders, you’ll typically need relevant trade certifications or apprenticeships. These qualifications prove your skill level and are often a minimum requirement to ensure safety and efficiency on the job. On top of these, certain safety certifications, like a First Aid certificate or specific industry safety courses, might also be required. These are crucial in ensuring not just your safety but that of your colleagues, given the remote and potentially hazardous work environments common in FIFO jobs.

If you’re eyeing professional roles, such as engineering, geology, or management positions, a university degree in your field of expertise is usually necessary. These roles often require both an extensive theoretical knowledge of a given area, and the ability to apply this knowledge practically in challenging settings. Additionally, experience in the field can be just as important as formal education, if not more so in some cases. Employers look for individuals who can demonstrate a history of reliable work under the conditions that FIFO work presents.

Support roles, like catering, cleaning, and administration, might not require formal qualifications, but will be greatly helped by having experience in these areas alongside a willingness to work in the FIFO setup. Regardless of the position, adaptability, a strong work ethic, and the capacity to live and work in close quarters with others are essential qualities for anyone considering FIFO work.

The qualifications needed for FIFO work vary widely based on the role. However, a combination of relevant education, vocational training, safety certifications, and personal attributes like adaptability and resilience are generally important across the board.

Is It Hard to Get a FIFO Job?

is getting a FIFO role difficult

Securing a FIFO job can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. The difficulty level largely depends on the industry, the specific role you’re applying for, and the current demand for workers. Like any job market, the FIFO sector fluctuates based on economic conditions, project phases, and the supply and demand of skilled workers.

For those with specialized skills or qualifications, especially in high-demand trades or professions within mining, oil and gas, and construction, finding a FIFO job might be easier. These industries often look for experienced workers who can hit the ground running, minimizing training and downtime. If you have specific certifications, experience, and a track record of reliability, your chances of landing a FIFO job improve significantly.

However, for entry-level positions or roles that require fewer qualifications, the competition can be fierce. Many people are attracted to FIFO work because of the attractive pay and the rostered time off, making entry-level positions highly sought after. In these cases, what often sets candidates apart is their work ethic, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to the unique FIFO lifestyle.

Networking can also play a crucial role in finding a FIFO job. Many opportunities are not advertised publicly, so having connections within the industry can give you a significant advantage. Engaging with online forums, attending industry meetups, and connecting with FIFO workers or recruiters on professional social networks can open doors to opportunities that you might not find elsewhere.

Additionally, demonstrating a willingness to start in a less desired role or location can also be a foot in the door. Employers value flexibility and a positive attitude, especially in the FIFO world, where adaptability is key.

While securing a FIFO job can be competitive, having the right qualifications, experience, and network can significantly boost your chances. This is especially true if you also show a readiness to embrace the FIFO lifestyle and work environment.

What Do I Need to Pack for FIFO Work?

clothes and gear you need for FIFO sites

Packing for FIFO work requires thoughtful preparation to ensure you have everything you need for both work and leisure during your stay at a remote site. Since you’ll be away from the conveniences of home and possibly in a location with limited access to shops, packing effectively is crucial.

Your number one priority for FIFO packing should be your work essentials. Safety gear tailored to your job’s requirements, such helmets, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots, is a must. Your employer might supply some of this equipment, but it’s wise to have your own quality gear that fits well and meets safety standards. You should also make sure to pack durable work clothing suitable for the climate and conditions you’ll be facing, including high-vis shirts or vests as required.

You’ll also want to consider your off-duty clothing and personal items. Remote sites can be casual when not on the clock, so comfortable clothing for your downtime is key. Remember to pack for all anticipated weather conditions to account for any temperature spikes or drops. Include personal hygiene products, as well as any medications you need, in your luggage. While basic items might be available onsite, you may not be able to find specific brands or preferences.

For your living quarters, check what is already provided and bring anything else you need. This might include bedding, a towel, or entertainment items like books, a laptop, or a tablet to help you relax outside of work hours. A reusable water bottle and snacks can also make your stay more comfortable, while meals will be provided.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack with weight limits in mind. FIFO flights often have strict baggage allowances, so prioritize essentials and check with your employer about what’s provided onsite to avoid unnecessary items.

Packing for FIFO work is about preparing for both the physical demands of your job and the comfort of your off-time. A well-thought-out packing list ensures you’re ready for work while also having a bit of home comfort during your roster.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a FIFO Worker?

Pros and cons of FIFO work arrangements

Being a FIFO worker comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, which can greatly affect your work-life balance and overall satisfaction with this career choice. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to consider all the potential positives and negatives of FIFO work before committing to something you may not be entirely compatible with.

On the plus side, FIFO work often offers higher pay than similar roles in more accessible locations. This is due to the remote nature of the work and the additional challenges that come with it. The compensation package can also include benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and allowances for travel or living expenses. Another significant advantage is the structured roster, which allows for substantial blocks of time off. This can be particularly appealing for those looking to spend quality time with family or pursue personal interests and hobbies on their extended breaks.

However, the FIFO lifestyle is not without its challenges. One of the primary drawbacks is the time spent away from home, which can be difficult for both the workers and their families. Being away for weeks at a time can strain relationships and lead to feelings of isolation or disconnection from community and social networks. The work itself can be physically demanding and mentally taxing, with long hours and potentially hazardous conditions, depending on the industry. Workers might also experience a sense of displacement due to constantly travelling between work and home, which can make it hard to feel settled in either place.

In weighing the pros and cons, it’s clear that FIFO work suits those who are adaptable and resilient, with a capacity to handle the physical and emotional demands of the job. The financial rewards and time off are appealing, but they come at the cost of conventional lifestyle norms, making it essential for potential FIFO workers to carefully consider their personal circumstances and priorities before committing to this career path.

Is FIFO a Good Career?

benefits of jobs with FIFO schedule

Deciding whether FIFO work is a good career path depends on individual preferences and life circumstances. It offers unique opportunities and challenges that can make it highly rewarding for some, while others might find the lifestyle too demanding.

One of the major attractions of FIFO work is the potential for high earnings. The salaries for FIFO positions are often significantly higher than those for similar roles based in more accessible locations, reflecting the remote nature of the work and the additional challenges that come with it. For those looking to save money or quickly pay off debts, this can be a major advantage. Additionally, the structured schedules of FIFO work allow for significant blocks of time at home, which can be appealing for people wanting to balance work with personal interests, hobbies, or family time.

However, the FIFO lifestyle is not for everyone. The extended periods away from home can be challenging, impacting personal relationships and making it difficult to maintain a stable social life. The work environments can be harsh, and the job itself physically and mentally demanding. Living and working in remote locations also means coping with limited personal space and the potential for feelings of isolation.

For individuals who are adaptable, resilient, and able to manage the separation from home and family, FIFO work can offer a fulfilling career with financial rewards and opportunities for personal growth. It suits those who thrive on change and adventure, and who see the benefits of the work arrangement outweighing the downsides.

Is FIFO Work Hard?

hardships of FIFO work

FIFO work is indeed challenging, both physically and mentally. Many FIFO jobs are within industries like mining, oil, and construction, meaning many roles are physically demanding. Workers might find themselves doing long shifts, sometimes 12 hours or more, under potentially harsh environmental conditions. Whether it’s extreme heat in a desert mine or the cold and isolation of an offshore oil platform, the physical demands are significant.

FIFO work can be just as taxing mentally. The isolation from familiar social networks and the strain of being away from family and friends for extended periods can affect mental health. Adjusting to the rhythm of being fully immersed in work for weeks at a time, followed by periods at home, requires resilience and adaptability. It’s not just the work itself but the whole FIFO lifestyle that can be a challenge to navigate, especially maintaining relationships and personal wellbeing during off-shift periods.

In addition to this, the site accommodations, while functional, often don’t provide the comforts of home, which can take a toll over time. Living in close quarters with colleagues means privacy is limited, and the social dynamics of FIFO camps aren’t always easy to navigate.

Despite these challenges, many people find FIFO work rewarding. The financial benefits, the sense of camaraderie with fellow workers, and the opportunity to enjoy significant blocks of uninterrupted time at home are appealing aspects of the FIFO lifestyle. It’s a career choice that requires a strong work ethic, flexibility, and a positive mindset to overcome the inherent challenges.

Are FIFO Jobs Worth It?

FIFO work offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. Many roles of this type demand physical strength, mental resilience, and the ability to adapt to living and working in remote environments away from the comforts of home. While the financial benefits and substantial time off are attractive, they come at the cost of extended periods away from loved ones and the potential for physical and emotional strain.

At the end of the day, whether FIFO work is worth it or not is your personal decision, and is heavily dependent on your circumstances, priorities, and whether you’re able to balance the demands of the job with personal life. If you are considering a FIFO role, it’s essential that you thoroughly consider and understand of both the advantages and the challenges. With the right mindset and preparation, FIFO work can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding career choice.

If you found this article engaging, you might also enjoy “What Is the Role of Labour in the Economy?” This piece delves into how the workforce powers various sectors, impacts economic growth, and the intricacies of labour dynamics. If you are specifically interested in more information about FIFO work, “What Is a Typical FIFO Schedule?” could be right up your alley. It offers a detailed look into the day-to-day life of a FIFO worker, shedding light on the structured yet demanding lifestyle that balances intense work periods with significant time off.

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