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Working in Sydney

Find out how to get a job and work in Sydney

Are you planning on working in Sydney as an expatriate? InterNations GO! helps you prepare for the transition: get key information on finding work, obtaining the proper visa, and learning about Australian business etiquette. Read on to find out more about relocating to Sydney for work.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

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Employment in Sydney

  • Nearly half of Sydney’s population was born overseas.
  • If you are looking for a job in Australia, you should enter your information into the SkillSelect Database, which allows employers to find qualified workers.
  • The Age Pension is available to all permanent residents who have been living and working in Australia for at least ten years prior to their retirement.

The Sydney metropolitan area produces nearly ten percent of Australia’s GDP every year. Sydney is undisputedly the country’s financial hub. Most people working in Sydney find jobs in property and business services, retail, and manufacturing, as well as health and community services. Other major sectors are information, media and technology, creative and performing arts.

Tourism, although not formally classified as an industry, is also a steady source of employment for many of those working in Sydney. In the year ending in March 2016, Sydney received over 3.3 million international tourists while 9.2 million domestic overnight visitors decided to travel to the city, and authorities are endeavoring to attract even more.

However, Sydney’s economic growth — while still solid — has been slowing down lately due to the lack of qualified workers. The city administration is currently trying to attract highly skilled people from abroad.

Business Locations

The City of Sydney is at the center of local business activity and nearly half of the population — about 49 percent — was born overseas.  For an example, most of Sydney’s workforce comes from China, New Zealand, or the UK.

Most of the people here are working in Sydney Central. This area includes the Sydney Central Business District, Pyrmont-Ultimo, East Sydney, and the so-called Knowledge and Enterprise precinct around Redfern-Waterloo, Sydney University, and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

The city’s Economic Development Strategy emphasizes the importance of local “places” for business in a global economy in order to maintain the high standards that residents are accustomed to. The bigger picture of the city’s economy reflects this development. The metropolitan area is developing its own business locations, with many global firms and large numbers of overseas employees now operating and working in Sydney’s metropolitan centers.

Getting a Job

Working in Sydney doesn´t need to remain a distant dream! If you are looking for work prior to your arrival, your first step should be to register with the Australian government’s SkillSelect Database. Employers who are unable to fill a skilled vacancy in their company can check this database in order to find qualified candidates from overseas.

In order to register, you need to have your skills and qualifications recognized by an official Assessing Authority. Doing this could significantly enhance your prospects of finding a job in Sydney in the near future. It also enables you to use Australian JobSearch, the government´s extensive free online service for jobseekers and employers alike. There are also quite a few job portals catering to skilled overseas candidates.

Qualifications and Skills

Proficiency in English and an official skills assessment are requirements for most Australian working visas. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship also provides an overview of visa categories plus required skills recognition on the Australian Skills Recognition Informationpages. Your visa application form usually contains details regarding the kind of assessment or recognition required, as visa sub-categories may have their own skills assessment programs.

Practicing a Trade

If you are employed in a particular trade overseas and would like to continue this job in Sydney, you should consult Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). The TRA website provides guidance concerning the different skills assessment programs for working in Sydney, such as permanent and temporary skilled migration.

Before practicing your trade in Sydney, it is recommended you check the State Training Services website of the NSW Department of Education and Training to find out whether there are any state-specific requirements for your trade. This website also contains information on where to obtain a license for selected trades, like repairing motor vehicles.

Continue to the next page of this article to learn more about working in Sydney.

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Sydney: Social Security & Office Etiquette

Taxation and Social Security

When you first arrive in Sydney, you need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). This can be done online on the Australian Taxation Office website. Your TFN is your individual identification number for everything related to taxation and social security.

Every employee in Sydney earning more than 18,200 AUD per year is taxed between 9.7% and 44.9% of their salary. This personal income tax is calculated progressively, depending on your wages and other circumstances. It does not include the so-called Medicare Levy, which amounts to another 2% of your gross salary.

Please note that for temporary residents, the minimum income threshold does not apply; they are taxed at flat rates, which is 32.5 cent for every dollar they make if they earn less than 80,000 AUD a year. The income tax is increased in accords to your income bracket. Also, temporary workers who are foreigners do not have to pay the Medicare levy. 

Full access to the Australian social security system is only granted to permanent residents after a waiting period of several years. Temporary visitors on a working visa are not eligible for social security. If you are employed by an Australian business and experiencing financial hardship, your employer might be able to claim Living Away from Home Allowance for you. You can find out more about this kind of tax concession on Australian Government Taxation Office website.

Pension Plans

The Australian state pension is called Age Pension. It normally becomes available to all permanent residents who have been living and working in Australia for at least ten years prior to retirement. The amount you receive does not depend on how much tax you have paid, but it is calculated on the basis of a living wage.

If you want to work in Australia on a temporary visa, you should think about the effects this might have on the retirement benefits you are entitled to in your home country.

If there is an international social security agreement between Australia and your country, this usually means that the time you spend working Down Under is not “lost”. It will count towards your state pension at home. Currently, Australia has social security agreements with the following countries:

  • Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark
  • Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, (South) Korea, Latvia
  • Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal
  • Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the USA. 

Please refer to Centrelink for more information on social security in Australia.

Another form of retirement saving is the so-called Superannuation fund. This is a retirement fund granted to every employee in Australia regardless of residency status. The monthly contribution of at least 9.5 percent of your salary is compulsory. It is paid by your employer into your “Super” fund.

For more information, consult the ATO website on Super funds. Upon leaving Australia, you can claim your Super fund: read up on the Departing Australia Super Payment via the ATO info page.

Business Etiquette

There aren’t many embarrassing business faux-pas for expats in Australia. As long as you treat everyone respectfully and politely and refrain from any sort of self-aggrandizement, you’ll find that Australians are rather easy-going in the office and reliable and straightforward business partners. To be on the safe side, it is always best to wait and observe common practice first before making any assumptions.

You will most likely be invited for formal or informal business drinks and dinners during your time in Sydney. Alcoholic beverages are usually consumed during such events, but they are not compulsory. On a formal occasion, the business partner who issued the invitation is usually responsible for paying the bill. However, at informal after-work drinks with colleagues or business associates, everyone just pays for one round of drinks.

Office Atmosphere

The atmosphere in your new workplace might be less hierarchical and formal than in your home country. Colleagues and business associates from all ranks and positions often address each other by their first names.

Depending on your line of work, formal business attire may be required in the office and particularly at business meetings. Offices are usually air-conditioned, but on hot days it is acceptable to take off your jacket in most situations. When meeting someone for the first time, both men and women greet each other with a firm handshake and direct eye contact.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: December 13, 2017
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