Is a FIFO Job Right for You?

The FIFO Job

FIFO-jobA FIFO job is one that is located too far away for a daily commute so workers live in worksite camps for weeks at a time.  Professional counselors report that although all workers are aware of the terms of a 'fly-in fly-out' job, most are not prepared for the way it actually affects them.  They think they will be strong enough to overcome the feelings of isolation and missing their families; many can't and quit immediately while others learn to deal with it or seek counseling.  Still others thrive in a FIFO job situation.  There are some couples that report long, happy relationships when they learn to properly cope with this type of job.

Experts seem to agree that shorter blocks of "on" time seem to result in much less depression and anxiety among workers and their spouses.  The company you work for and the type of job you're doing will dictate your schedule.  The operations phase miners work shorter rotations while the construction phase miners may be away from home for a month at a time.  Counselors state that on a two week on one week off schedule there are very little problems.  Even at three weeks most workers remain stable, but during the fourth week the loneliness and depression explodes among the crew.


How the FIFO Job Affects Family Life

Spouses report that some FIFO job workers refuse to communicate when they are at work because they don't even want to deal with issues at home if they can't be there to fix it.  Also, some miners do not know how to use the modern technologies that can keep them connected to their families.  A firm that specializes in counseling workers with FIFO jobs has organized a workshop to familiarize worker with tools like video chatting and social media.


Having a parent work a FIFO job can be difficult for young children to understand and difficult for older kids to deal with.  One FIFO spouse created a series of books to help parents explain the work schedule to their children and other tools to help kids keep track of the days till Mom or Dad come home.  Children cope with a situation much better if it is explained to them.  Plus if they can "see for themselves" when their parent is coming home on a calendar or other visual medium, it makes them feel more confident about the situation.

In comparison, there are many advantages to working at a FIFO job.  Workers can make considerably more money flying in to a desolate or remote location to work.  A 2013 study of FIFO workers in Western Australia revealed that most workers make around $40,000 more than if they took a similar job closer to home and commuted. 


Also, the "off" days come in weeks; workers may be away from home for a few weeks, but they get to spend an entire week with their families to reconnect and help with household duties.  Employers cover most of the travel expenses and arrangements, so travel time should not cut into time off!

People who are well settled in their area or can't afford to move can work in fly in fly out jobs without having to drag their whole family around or find a new place to live.  Plus, working long hours every day for two or three weeks can be difficult when having to deal with daily menial tasks, paying bills, and the stress of family.  Much of the additional income comes from the overtime hours worked during the intense work schedule.  The work schedule would be difficult to maintain while trying to be present in a family. 


In the 2013 study, some of the FIFO workers in Western Australia lived in areas where the job prospects are limited.  Having residents that earning money elsewhere and bringing it back to spend it at home helps the local economy.

If you are flying into work anyways, you have the freedom to move anywhere; you won't be tied to living in the same area if you don't want to.

A FIFO job may not be for everyone, but if the positives are attractive to you it is worth a try!