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Working in Brisbane?

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Benoit Julien

Living in Australia, from France

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Living in Australia, from Spain

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Brisbane at a Glance

Working in Brisbane

Expats working in Brisbane contribute to the economic growth engine of Australia’s second-largest state. Will you soon join them? Our guide to working in Brisbane introduces the urban economy, the job market, local working conditions, as well as taxes and pensions for expatriates in Queensland.


By working in Brisbane, you will be participating in a dynamic urban economy. The city, as well as its metropolitan area, is often called Queensland’s (QLD) “economic engine room” for its contribution to the state’s economic activities. 

Living in a Subtropical Climate

Living in a subtropical climate has many perks. For one, Brisbane holds some of the best beaches in Australia. Another interesting fact is that Brisbane is the most biologically diverse capital in Australia; home to over 500 indigenous animal species and more than 1,500 types of plants. However, subtropical climates can also have downsides, such as being susceptible to natural disasters.

Brisbane is built on a flood plain, which means that it is vulnerable to excessive rain, river overflow, and high tidal ranges. Hence, Brisbane is no stranger to floods. In addition to flooding, Brisbane is prone to heat waves, cyclones, bushfires, and earthquakes. For more information about natural disasters, visit the Brisbane City Council website.

The Effect of the 2010-2011 Floods

Australia in general has a good economic climate at the moment. The country is now looking back on 20 consecutive years of economic expansion. It doesn’t come as a surprise that in 2010, the International Monetary Fund rated Australia as the developed country with the best economic prospects. However, it was Queensland that cost the national economy 0.5% of its annual growth in the following year — as a result of the flooding in December 2010 and January 2011.

Queensland had actually suffered from a period of draught until 2010, when the dry weather ended in heavy thunderstorms and lots of rain. Those living and working in Brisbane were hit less hard than other regions in Queensland, but the floods were still a major natural disaster, the worst in almost 40 years.

The inundations disrupted railway lines, flooded mining sites, and had a negative effect on local agriculture as well. The employees of Queensland’s coal industry were particularly affected. However, natural disasters of such severity are fortunately isolated events, and the economic recovery is well under way.

Queensland – the Economy of a Resource State

Unlike most people working in Brisbane, a considerable part of the labor force in Queensland is employed in jobs within the primary sector. Except for tourism and finance, the QLD economy is mainly based on mining and agriculture. More than 50 percent of the agriculture in Queensland is based on meat and sugar; however, these commodity staples are accompanied by a large range of additional food products such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, barley, sorghum, and wheat.

In addition to the booming agribusiness, the mining sector is very active in Queensland, a typical resource economy. Coal, natural gas, bauxite, ores and metals like copper, zinc or lead, stones that are often used as building materials, gold, silver, and gems are of particular importance.

Agricultural produce and natural resources are key exports for Queensland, not only to Asian countries like Japan, India, Korea, China, and Taiwan, but also to the United States. Although this sector provides plenty of work for QLD residents, it is probably not an option for expats who want to start working in the city of Brisbane. 

Growth Sectors

Unlike most of Queensland, working in Brisbane is an excellent opportunity for expats with specialized skills in manufacturing or services. The urban region is currently moving towards a knowledge economy with a special emphasis on future growth sectors, research and development. 

The most popular jobs in Brisbane are in healthcare, social assistance, scientific and technical services, retail, education, public administration, and security. Mining still plays a huge role for many employees working in the Southeast Queensland area. However, the focus lies on providing highly specialized mining technologies and services for the rest of the state rather than the excavation process itself.

Working in Brisbane as an expat may also be of interest to you, if you have the necessary qualifications or professional experience in one of the following fields: financial services, energy production (with a move away from fossil fuels towards clean tech), information and communication technology, food-processing, or life sciences like pharmaceutics, diagnostics, and biotech.

Furthermore, there are a considerable number of residents who find work in the tourism industry or Brisbane’s fairly diversified secondary sector.  Brisbane is the third-most popular city for international tourists to visit, trailing behind Melbourne and Sydney. 

According to the Brisbane City Council, tourism contributes more than 3.3 billion AUD to the city’s gross regional product. In 2013, visitors to Brisbane alone spent over 6 billion AUD. The city of Brisbane is expanding the tourism industry rapidly, by persuading more people to invest in new infrastructure. Hence, there will be more jobs available in the near future for expats pursuing a career in tourism.


Skilled laborers and experts working in Brisbane’s manufacturing industries are involved in various occupations related to machinery and equipment technology, plastics and metals, robotics and microelectronics, packaging and recycling, or marine industries such as yacht-building.

Brisbane is a booming port city, and as such, it provides plenty of jobs in the logistics and distribution sector. Having qualified workers in these fields is immensely important to the Port of Brisbane, which handles 50 billion AUD or 37 million tons of cargo each year.

Your foreign assignment in Brisbane will probably lead you to a new position in one of the aforementioned industries. If you are interested in working in Brisbane outside a typical intra-company transfer, you can find a few useful job-hunting tips in the next part of our article series on working in Brisbane.



We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine