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Working in Australia

Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in Australia

Working in Australia is possible for an expat with the right visa and paperwork. For example, if you plan to be self-employed in the country, you may want to look into the Business Talent Visa. If you plan on working for an employer, you may want to start by tailoring your resume and cover letter to fit the standards and expectations of the country before you begin your job search.

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When comparing Australia’s unemployment  rate to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, they are somewhat in the middle. For the past few years, they have averaged around 5%, which is higher than the US and UK (both around 4%), but lower than Canada and France (6-9%).

If you are a non-resident wondering how to find a job in Australia, you will first require the appropriate work permit (unless you are from New Zealand). We will go over the steps for this, as well as other pertinent information such as the average working days in the country, average weekly salary for a full-time worker(1,605 AUD/1,087 USD), how to work as a self-employed person (sufficient funds and a strong business plan), and the many social security benefits.

How to Get a Job in Australia as a Foreigner

If you are wondering how to get a job in Australia as a foreigner, there are many things you will have to take into consideration. For example, you must first ensure that you meet the requirements for working in Australia legally.

Eligibility for Working in Australia

Unless you are a citizen of New Zealand, working in Australia as a foreigner will most likely require a visa. Australia has several different visa types for all kinds of workers, including highly-skilled workers, specialized workers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Each visa has its own set of unique requirements which are outlined on Australia’s Home Affairs website. Most likely, your job will need to be on the skilled occupation list for you to be issued a work permit.

For more on this, see our Visa and Work Permits page.

Best Way to Get a Job in Australia as a Foreigner

If you are wondering how to apply for a job in Australia, the best step to take is to begin your search online. This is the easiest route, especially if you are still abroad and have not relocated yet. Job opportunities in Australia for foreigners could be in the education, healthcare, maintenance, or public sector. Relevant job search websites include:

Once you have bookmarked a few positions that you are interested in, you will want to ensure you have an Australian-style CV and cover letter prepared. When working on these two documents, note that it is essential for your material to be written in Australian English. Australian English varies from American spelling and is much closer to British spelling.

Australian-Style CV

In Australia, the words resume and CV are used interchangeably and refer to the same type of document (however, ‘resume’ is what you will hear most often). Unlike other countries, where resumes are kept short, it is normal for CVs to be up to three or four pages in Australia. However, if you are entry-level or a recent graduate with little experience, two pages is acceptable.

Tips for Creating an Australian CV
  • Australian resumes also do not require a professional headshot attached to them.
  • Include personal contact information: email address, phone number, address, and name.
  • Information, such as marital status and age are not necessary.
  • When listing your work experience, use reverse-chronological order (your most recent or current job first) and accompany each entry with the dates of employment, description of responsibilities, and achievements.
  • List your education in the same manner: reverse-chronological order and include dates, the name of the school, and your major/minor/specialization and degree/certificate.

Other sections to include if relevant are: significant achievements and awards, skills, volunteer experience, and references. Contact information for references is not required, but add a note stating they are available upon request (see below for more details on professional references).

Cover Letter Tips

Even if a cover letter is not required, it can better your chances with an employer if you include one with your application anyway. Some employers may not even consider a candidate’s resume if it is not accompanied by a cover letter.

Every cover letter, like your resume, should be tailored for the position and company you are applying for. However, unlike your resume, your cover letter should be brief and certainly not as long as your CV (no more than a page). It should highlight key accomplishments related to your career that have not already been mentioned in your CV. Mention why you believe you would be a good fit within the organization and how your experience can help you fill the position. Your cover letter is also the opportunity to explain any exceptional circumstances such as significant employment gaps, career shifts or changes, etc.

Interview Tips

If you are offered an interview slot, this is excellent news. Take into consideration the following tips, and you will be one step closer to landing your dream job in Australia:

  • Research the company beforehand. You want to come prepared with questions or comments about particular projects the organization is working on. Make sure you know the key people in the company as well.
  • Dress appropriately to your interview to match the company culture, but if in doubt, remember: it is always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. Learn more about dress code in the Business Culture section below.
  • Arrive anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes early before your interview. Never be late!
  • During your interview, think positively and do your best to appear self-confident, outgoing, friendly, and enthusiastic about the job and opportunity.
  • Practice your answers to key and standard interview questions. Practice giving one to two-minute responses. It is important to provide examples when answering questions related to your previous job experience.

Required References and Qualifications

Some companies and hiring managers may ask you for references as a part of the job application process. If you are asked for references, this could be a good indication that you are being given serious consideration as a potential candidate for the position. The company may want to check your references to confirm information you have provided in your resume, CV, or interview.

It is important to provide credible references. This could be previous employers, or professors if you are a recent graduate. Try to stick to references who have worked with you within the last three years. Go further back only if it is very relevant to the position.

Finally, it is essential to advise your references that they may be contacted. Provide them with information regarding the employer and company, the person you interviewed with, and the position you are applying for.

If you require your foreign qualifications to be assessed, state and territory governments offer this service for permanent residents only. Fees may apply. The Qualifications Recognition area of the Australian Government Department of Education also gives assessments of overseas qualifications for foreigners and non-residents. Charges may also apply.

Networking Tips

Many people think that networking is about selling yourself to people in your industry or colleagues that could help you later on. Proper networking is about establishing genuine and authentic connections with professionals in your field. The following are tips that may help you at networking functions in Australia:

  • Instead of talking endlessly about yourself, try to listen first.
  • Come prepared with unique questions to help you understand different people on a deeper level.
  • Try and avoid the rehearsed elevator pitch. When it does come time for you to speak, do so openly, honestly, enthusiastically, and passionately.
  • Following the event, follow up and connect with any new contacts you made. This could be as simple as an email.

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Minimum Wage and Average Salary

The average salary in Australia stands at around 1,605 AUD (1,087 USD) per week for a full-time worker. The national minimum wage in the country is just below 19 AUD (13 USD) per hour, or 720 AUD (490 USD) per week.

The average annual salary, including benefits, is around 91,550 AUD (62,000 USD). Is this considered a good salary in Australia? While in many countries, earning the salary could provide for a luxurious way of life, Australia’s cost of living will generally require you to earn more than the average wage.

The Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay

The following are average annual salaries for top jobs in Australia.

Position AUD USD
IT systems architect 140,000 94,810
IT manager 125,000 84,660
IT security architect 124,000 83,970
Cloud engineers 112,000 75,840
Data scientist 100,000 67,720
Python developer 100,000 67,720
IT consultants 80,000 54,170
Project managers 80,000 54,170
Telecoms technician 80,000 54,170
Devops engineer 70,000 47,400

Other Jobs and Their Salaries

Here is a look at other occupations in Australia along with the average yearly salary for each:

Position AUD USD
Teacher 74,824 50,770
Accountant 64,663 43,870
Nurse 74,824 50,770
Software engineer 77,143 52,340
Architect 81,503 55,300
Marketing manager 78,270 53,110
Product manager 83,546 56,890
Web developer 60,958 41,360
UX designer 72,737 49,350

Self-Employment

Self-employment in Australia requires proof of sufficient funds and a strong business plan. If you need to know how to be self-employed in Australia as an expat, the country offers various visa streams for foreign businesspeople and non-resident entrepreneurs, each with their own requirements. To learn the full details, see our Visas and Work Permits page.

In Australia, there is a difference between starting a new business and being a business owner. If you want to buy a business, the best way is through a buyer’s agent who can help you find companies you may be interested in. They can also inform you of tax requirements, insurance, etc. It is advisable to hire an accountant.

Being a Business Owner

If you buy a business, keep in mind that some may be on the market because they are not financially stable. In this case, only invest your money and buy if you genuinely believe you have the capabilities, skills, and business savvy to turn the company around.

Starting a Business

Those starting a business in the country will need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). This is an 11-digit number that identifies your business to the government for tax purposes. This number is free, and you apply for it online. Your company in Australia will be liable for taxes even if you are not considered a tax resident yourself. Learn more about taxes for self-employed workers in the Banks and Taxes section of the guide.

Typically for new expats in the country, it is much easier to buy an existing company than to establish one.

Top Self-Employed Jobs in Australia

In Australia, the best self-employed jobs with the most growth are blue-collar professions because there is a skill shortage. This includes

  • plumbers;
  • construction workers;
  • electricians;
  • glaziers;
  • landscapers;
  • pool and spa maintenance and installers;
  • security.

However, for this kind of a visa, you will typically need to prove that you will be able to help the economy (i.e., create jobs).

Other self-employment jobs with stable job growth in Australia are

  • customer service assistant;
  • online sales representative;
  • virtual assistant;
  • childcare worker;
  • data entry jobs;
  • freelance content writer;
  • dog groomer;
  • makeup artist or beauty therapist;
  • social media manager;
  • translator;
  • online tutor;
  • graphic designer;
  • software developer;
  • transcriptionist;
  • bookkeeper.

Self-Employed Benefits in Australia

If you are starting a new business in the country, the Australian government has grants available to both national and expat entrepreneurs. For any extra super contributions you make (see our Banks and Taxes section to learn more on this), you can claim a tax deduction of up to 25,000 AUD (17,030 USD) annually.

If your business is still growing, the government also makes co-contributions for low and middle-income earners to assist with their retirement savings. If you make less than 52,700 AUD (35,900 USD) per year before taxes, the government matches 50 cents for every dollar that you add to your super (up to a maximum of 500 AUD (340 USD)).

To help out self-employed entrepreneurs with small to medium-sized businesses—turnovers below 50 million AUD (more than 34 million USD)—they are subject to a reduced tax rate.

Along with this, the government has increased the instant asset write-off threshold to 30,000 AUD (20,434 USD) until June 30, 2020 to help self-employed entrepreneurs with eligible small businesses to instantly write off numerous assets. Other benefits include

  • making it easier for small businesses to resolve tax disputes—establishing a small business concierge within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office for advice and support; Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to pay legal fees for small businesses when they challenge ATO decisions; created a dedicated Small Business Taxation Division within the Administrative Appeals Tribunal;
  • cutting red tape—streamlining GST reporting
  • access to tax and financial advice—ten tax clinics across Australia as a twelve-month pilot to offer free tax advice to small businesses;
  • access to finance—creating the 2 billion AUD (nearly 1.4 billion USD) Australian Business Securitization Fund;
  • making invoicing easier—introducing the e-invoicing system to simplify and save businesses 28 billion AUD (more than 19 billion USD) in transaction costs;
  • improving digital capability—establishing a non-government organization committed to bettering small businesses’ digital capability.

Business Culture

Australian business culture is pretty open and straightforward. People do not generally require building a relationship first before engaging in business.

Things to Know About Australian Work Culture

  • New ideas in Australian working culture are always welcomed.
  • Modesty is appreciated.
  • Pushy and aggressive sales techniques are frowned upon.
  • Be friendly, honest, and direct.
  • First names are often used even when first meeting with someone.
  • Decision making is slow and patience is necessary.
  • Collaboration is encouraged and top management will most likely consult and include subordinates in the process.

Businesses usually operate Monday to Friday between 9:00 to 17:00.

Australian Workplace Culture Dress Code

Men should stick to dark, conservative business suits. Women may too wear a smart business suit or dress. In tropical areas, such as Brisbane, for example, the dress code may be a little bit more relaxed with Bermuda shorts being acceptable. “Casual Fridays” may exist in some organizations where you can dress down and wear something a little more smart casual and comfortable.

If you are a new employee and in doubt, follow your colleagues’ lead and look to higher-ups regarding what to wear in your new workplace.

Social Security and Benefits

What is a tax file number (TFN) in Australia? Australia’s tax file number is a unique nine-digit number issued by the ATO to taxpaying individuals and businesses in Australia. Businesses require both a TFN and ABN. This personal number issued to taxpayers identifies them within Australia’s super and tax systems.

This number is yours for life and does not change, so you must keep it secure. While having a TFN is not a requirement, you will end up paying more taxes without one. Without a TFN, you also will not have access to government benefits (see below to learn more on this); be able to submit your tax return online; or apply for an ABN.

How to Get a Tax File Number in Australia

Can a foreigner get a tax file number? Yes. Applying for a tax file number in Australia requires proof of identity. It is issued by the ATO and takes about a month to receive (it will be sent to your Australian address). Unlike some countries, you will not get a tax file card in Australia, but rather a document with the number on it. You apply for it online. Foreign workers with a visa permit can use their passport and visa number to apply.

Social Security Benefits in Australia

Under Australia’s Social Security Act, some of the benefits, administered by Centrelink (branch of the Department of Human Services) include

  • age pension—for people (65 years and over) planning to retire or who have retired;
  • carer allowance and payment—for people who care for someone with a disability;
  • disability support pension—for people who cannot work for two years due to a disability, injury, or sickness;
  • sickness allowance—for employed workers suffering from an injury, disability, or illness (under two years) and have no access or used all of their leave;
  • double orphan pension—for people raising orphans;
  • new start allowance—for people looking for work;
  • special benefit—for people going through financial hardship and cannot support themselves;
  • income support—support payment to help with living costs (can include service pension, veteran payment, rent assistance, and wife pension);
  • pharmaceutical allowance—helps cover the cost of prescription medicines for those receiving Centrelink payments;
  • telephone allowance—for eligible people receiving pension payments;
  • widow allowance—payment for widowed, divorced, or separated women over a certain age;
  • farm household allowance—payment for farming families going through financial hardships;
  • bereavement allowance—short-term payment if you have recently lost your partner.

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Maternity and Paternity Leave

Paternity and maternity leave in Australia are included under Parental Leave Pay Scheme which employees are entitled to after the birth or adoption of a child. It is a short-term pay while you are on leave to care for the newest addition to your family. To be eligible, you must

  • be the primary caregiver of the child;
  • individually earned less than 150,000 AUD (102,071 USD) in the previous financial year;
  • be on leave and not working while receiving Parental Leave Pay;
  • meet the work test (unless you get an exemption)
    • worked for ten of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of the child
    • worked a total of 330 hours (approximately one day per week) in those ten months.

Maternity Benefits in Australia

How long is maternity leave in Australia? Eligible employees are entitled to 18 weeks of paid leave at the national minimum wage.

The parenting payment is an income support payment if you are a young child’s principal caregiver. Later on, you may be entitled to the family tax benefit, which is a two-part payment to help with the costs of raising kids.

Paternity Leave and Benefits

Working fathers and partners (including same-sex partners) receive two weeks of paid leave at the national minimum wage (up to 740 AUD (505 USD) weekly). They are also eligible for the parenting payment outlined above if they are the child’s primary caretaker, along with the family tax benefit.

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Updated on: April 20, 2020
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