what is an associate?

As an associate, you are an entry-level professional with minimal experience in your field. Most associates assist senior employees in the industry to gain relevant experience for higher roles. For instance, in law, associate lawyers have a law degree and are admitted to the bar, but they work under the guidance of an experienced lawyer. As an associate in a law firm, you conduct research, prepare documents, and attend court hearings to build your experience.

Associates work in diverse industries and have fewer responsibilities than higher-ranking employees. You can work in retail environments as a sales associate or business associate. In academia, an associate professor and research associate works closely with professors and researchers to achieve a common goal. For instance, associate professors are usually in the probationary period and perform all the duties of a professor under supervision. In other industries, like mining or manufacturing, associates perform entry-level tasks while gaining the necessary experience to perform other duties.

If you want to excel as an associate, you should be good at following instructions. While you have the necessary academic qualifications for a job, you need relevant work experience to make decisions. Hence, following instructions helps you gain experience and minimise the chances of errors.

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average associate salary

The typical remuneration package of an associate in Australia is $104,000 per year. Your earnings vary based on your experience and responsibilities. When starting your career, your remuneration package starts at $81,000 per year. With experience and additional expertise, you will likely earn over $161,500 per year. Your earnings also depend on your area of specialisation. For instance, a research associate in Australia earns between 90,000 and $105,000 per year. On the other hand, an associate lawyer takes home between $118,500 and $175,000 per year, based on experience and qualifications.

what factors affect the salary of an associate?

As an associate, your earnings depend on various factors, including education and experience. When you have postgraduate qualifications and extra certifications in your field, you are likely to earn a higher remuneration package. Work experience also improves your earning prospects. When you have a few years of experience, you can handle complex tasks in the company, which attracts a higher salary.

Your area of specialisation also influences your earnings. When you specialise in finance or law, the complexity of your duties boosts your remuneration package. Specialisation in business or retail sectors attracts a lower remuneration since you handle simple tasks in the company.

Want to know what you will earn as an associate? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of associates

You can work as an associate in your preferred industry. Whether you want to work as an associate in a manufacturing, mining or consultancy firm, you will find a suitable position to match your expertise. An associate lawyer holds a specific rank in a law firm, and since they have passed the bar, they are permitted to provide legal advice to clients. Your duties as an associate lawyer include writing legal contracts, conducting legal research and representing clients in court.

In academia, you work as an associate professor or research associate. As an associate professor, you are in your probationary period as a professor, but you still teach students and guide them through research. As a research associate, you write proposals for grants and participate in the research. You publish the findings of the research in journals.

male talking with glasses
male talking with glasses

working as an associate

If you are interested in becoming an associate, here are the duties, work environments and job outlooks for the role.


education and skills

Educational qualifications are not mandatory for some associate roles. For instance, if you want to work as an associate manager, experience in administrative duties is more important than qualifications. However, some associate specialisations require training.

Becoming an associate lawyer in Australia requires a law degree approved by the Law Society of your state, like the Victorian Legal Admissions Board, Legal Practice Board of Western Australia and the Queensland Legal Practitioners Admissions Board. The degree takes four years of full-time study. After the bachelor of law course, complete Practical Legal Training, where you train under an experienced lawyer for 80 days. Alternatively, get a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. You also require an additional 18-24 months working under a lawyer to get a practising certificate from your law society and be admitted to the Australian Bar Association.

associate skills and competencies

Some of the skills and qualities of associates include:

  • customer service skills: as an associate, you work closely with clients and customers. It is important to provide high-quality customer service to clients. You rely on your customer service skills to address customer concerns in a professional and respectful manner. You also provide customised services, regardless of the customer's background.
  • analytical skills: as an associate, you conduct market research, which means you collect various market data. Analytical skills are crucial in evaluating market trends and solving customer problems. For instance, when you work in a retail store, your analytical skills help you determine the products to display at different seasons to boost sales.
  • research skills: as an associate, you assist lawyers and legal counsel with research. Your job is to evaluate the case laws and find precedents related to your client's case. Your research skills help you develop a solid defence strategy for your client.
  • communication skills: as an associate, you require good verbal communication skills to excel in your role. Communication skills help you pass information to clients and instruct employees to complete various tasks. Your written communication skills are also useful when writing reports.

FAQs about working as an associate

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an associate.

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