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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 in order. 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 job market to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, they are somewhat in the middle when it comes to their unemployment rate. December 2018 ended with a 5% unemployment rate—higher than the US (3.9%), UK (4%), and New Zealand (3.3%) but also lower than Canada (5.6%) and France (9.1%).
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). Along with this, this section covers working days; average salary at 1,605 AUD (1,087 USD) per week for a full-time worker; working as a self-employed person (which requires sufficient funds and a strong business plan); and Australia’s many social security benefits, payments which are administered by Centrelink, a branch of the Department of Human Services.
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. You will need to figure out which type is best for you and your employment situation. The good news is that Australia has several 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.
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 get online and begin searching. This is the easiest route to take, 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 applying for, 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.
In Australia, the words resume and CV are used interchangeably and refer to the same type of document (however, resume is what you will most likely hear most).
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.
Australian resumes also do not require a professional headshot attached to them, which may be the norm in other countries.
Personal information required on an Australian-style CV is contact information: professional email address, phone number, address, and name. Information, such as marital status and age are not necessary.
Australians use reverse-chronological order (your most recent or current job first) on resumes. Accompany each job entry with the dates of employment, description of responsibilities, and achievements.
Following your work experience, you can list your education in the same manner: reverse-chronological order including dates, the name of the school, and your major/minor/specialization and degree/certificate. You can also add any significant achievements and awards.
Other sections of an Australian resume can include skills, volunteer experience, and references. Contact information for references is not required here, just 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.
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 is typically good news. 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.
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 stood at 1,605 AUD (1,087 USD) per week for a full-time worker, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics. The national minimum wage in the country is 18.93 AUD (12.82 USD) per hour or 719.20 AUD (487.02 USD) weekly. The average annual salary, including benefits, is 91,552 AUD (61,997 USD). So, what is a good salary in Australia? Generally, you should aim to earn more than the average.
The Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay
The following are average annual salaries for top jobs in Australia:
- IT systems architect—140,000 AUD (94,805 USD)
- IT manager—125,000 AUD (84,647 USD)
- IT security architect—124,000 AUD (83,970 USD)
- Cloud engineers—112,000 AUD (75,844 USD)
- Data scientist—100,000 AUD (67,718 USD)
- Python developers—100,000 AUD (67,718 USD)
- IT consultants—80,000 AUD (54,174 USD)
- Project managers—80,000 AUD (54,174 USD)
- Telecoms technician—80,000 AUD (54,174 USD)
- Devops engineer—70,000 AUD (47,402 USD)
Other Jobs and their Salaries
Here is a look at other occupations in Australia along with the average yearly salary for each:
- teacher—74,824 AUD (50,765 USD)
- accountant—64,663 AUD (43,871 USD)
- nurse—74,824 AUD (50,765 USD)
- software engineer—77,143 AUD (52,338 USD)
- architect—81,503 AUD (55,296 USD)
- marketing manager—78,270 AUD (53,107 USD)
- product manager—83,546 AUD (56,686 USD)
- web developer—60,958 AUD (41,360 USD)
- UX designer—72,737 AUD (49,352 USD)
Self-employment in Australia requires proof of sufficient funds and a strong business plan. If you are wondering how to be self-employed in Australia as an expat, Australia offers various visa streams for foreign businesspeople and non-resident entrepreneurs, each with their own requirements (e.g., the Business Talent visa). Get full details in the Visas and Work Permits section of our guide.
In this country, there is also 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 also advisable you hire an accountant. If you do buy a business, keep in mind that some might 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 acumen to turn the company around.
Those starting a new 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
- construction workers;
- pool and spa maintenance and installers;
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 to strong 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;
- online tutor;
- graphic designer;
- software developer;
Self-Employed Benefits in Australia
If you are starting a new business in the country, the government of Australia has grants available to both Australian 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 (17,028 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 52,697 AUD (35,894 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 (339 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 of 27.5%. This will later be reduced to the following:
- 26%—2020/21 income year
- 25%—2021/2022 and later income years
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.
Australian business culture is pretty open and straightforward. People do not generally require building a relationship first before engaging in business. New ideas in Australian working culture are always welcomed. Modesty is appreciated. Pushy and aggressive sales techniques are frowned upon. When doing business in Australia, be friendly, honest, and direct. First names are often used even when first meeting with someone. Decision making is slow as it is a business culture that encourages collaboration so top management, for example, will consult and include subordinates in the process. Patience will be necessary.
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;
- newstart 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 740.60 AUD (503.83 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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