How to become a Waterside Worker

Waterside Worker

Waterside workers stack, check and secure contents of shipping containers prepared for storage or dispatch.

Personal requirements for a Waterside Worker

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Able to work in a team
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Capable of lifting and carrying heavy items
  • Good communication and organisational skills
  • Able to follow instructions

Education & Training for a Waterside Worker

You can work as a waterside worker without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a waterside worker through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Additional information

To perform many of the tasks involved in stevedoring, industry standards require waterside workers to hold a licence to Perform High Risk Work. To gain a licence, you will need to complete units of competency at an approved Registered Training Organisation and work under the supervision of a licensed operator. You will also need to keep an approved logbook to record competencies achieved during training. Assessment by an independent assessor will then be required. To obtain a licence, you will need to be at least 18 years of age.

Duties & Tasks of a Waterside Worker

Waterside workers:

  • Pack and unpack containers, open and close hatches and secure cargo to prevent it shifting during voyages
  • Clean holds and containers and prepare stevedoring (shiploading) gear
  • Operate a wide range of light and heavy machinery, including forklifts, skid-steer loaders, front-end loaders and a variety of cranes
  • Perform a wide range of clerical duties such as recording and checking cargo on arrival, storage or dispatch
  • Direct equipment operations using various types of communication systems
  • Moor and unmoor ships on arrival and departure
  • Stack cargo on pallets, trays, flats and slings to facilitate transfer to and from ships
  • Operate and perform minor maintenance checks on forklifts, trucks, front-end loaders and fixed or mobile cranes
  • Act as team leader for a wharf or on-ship work team.


  • Opening and closing ship hatches.
  • Carrying out safety checks.
  • Packing containers and re-packing damaged containers.
  • Assisting to tie down loads and covering them with tarpaulins.
  • Receiving instructions by radio telephone and/or radio data terminal to load, unload or move cargo.
  • Arranging for damaged containers of hazardous material to be quarantined.
  • Stacking cargo on pallets, trays, flats and slings to facilitate transfer to and from ships.
  • Operating heavy vehicles and machinery, such as straddle carriers, fork-lifts and ships' cranes, to load and unload cargo from trucks, ships and rail transport services.
  • Guiding truck drivers into loading bays and through confined spaces.
  • Securing and releasing mooring lines of ships.
  • Labelling goods with customers' details and destinations.
  • Loading goods into trucks, containers and rail wagons, and securing loads.
  • Sorting cargo before loading and unloading.
  • Positioning goods in the holds of ships and securing cargo to prevent shifting during voyages.
  • Transferring loads using moving equipment and directing equipment operations using communication systems.
  • Washing out containers and carrying out other general yard duties such as shunting on the railway.
  • Performing clerical functions to record and check cargo on arrival, storage and dispatch.
  • Cleaning out ships' tanks and holds.

Working conditions for a Waterside Worker

Waterside workers usually work outdoors in ports, container terminals and the holds of ships. They work in most weather conditions, except very strong winds, and may have to work with frozen or dangerous goods, in freezers or in dusty conditions. They usually work shifts involving nights, weekends and public holidays.

Employment Opportunities for a Waterside Worker

Waterside workers are usually employed by private stevedoring companies, with some workers employed by state port authorities and related organisations, including local government.


Waterside Worker

Waterside workers stack, check and secure contents of shipping containers prepared for storage or dispatch.

  • Average age
    Average age
    46 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    4% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    44 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Entry level
  • Unemployment
    Higher Unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    68% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    3,200 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.0%
    NSW: 27.6%
    NT: 1.9%
    QLD: 17.5%
    SA: 8.2%
    TAS: 4.7%
    VIC: 22.6%
    WA: 17.0%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.9%
    20-24: 3.6%
    25-34: 14.1%
    35-44: 26.1%
    45-54: 32.4%
    55-59: 13.1%
    60-64: 6.6%
    65 and Over: 3.3%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 5.8%
    Bachelor degree: 2.6%
    Certificate III/IV: 39.5%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 0.5%
    Year 10 and below: 24.3%
    Year 11: 7.8%
    Year 12: 19.4%
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