What students need to know about working in Australia.

What students need to know about working in Australia.


Australia is by far one of the preferred destinations for international students.  What’s not to love? Awesome scenery.  The language.  Australians. Unique culture. Fun. And you get to learn.  In order to enjoy everything the Land Down Under has to offer students often need to look for employment.  There are many things to consider when looking for a job as a student from abroad in Australia.

Government guidelines.

Student visas in Australia allow the holder to work a max of 40 hours in a two week period if the semester is ongoing.  At the end of the term students are free to work full time.  It’s worth noting that international students can only gain legal employment status while they have started to study.

Once a student has fulfilled this requirement and has found a suitable job, he or she must obtain a Tax File Number. A TFN is the Australian equivalent of a Social Security number in the States.  Although it’s not mandatory, the amount of taxes a person pays is higher without the TFN.  The Australian Taxation Office has further information on applying for one in the case of foreign students.

Most suitable jobs for international students

International students can find work in a wide number of industries.  They should look for employment that allows them to:

  • Not sacrifice academic responsibilities.
  • Have plenty of opportunities to increase their language proficiency.  Both native and non-native English speakers will benefit by learning some popular expressions.  The best way to do this is to experience day-to-day work culture.
  • Gain some experience in their respective field of study.  While this might be hard to come by, it’s not impossible.
Image courtesy of Herry Lawford at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Herry Lawford at Flickr.com

Restaurants, bars, and hotels are some of the preferred sectors to find work as a student. This is a worldwide fact.  The hospitality industry has flexible hours, decent pay if you include tips, and it’s a great way to practice basic communication. This is possibly the best options for international students to start working in Australia while they gain some skills and advance in their studies.  However, if you’re courses start early in the morning then maybe you shouldn’t look for work in this industry. Hospitality services normally get busy after the sun goes down and work hours tend to go to late night.

Another popular industry is working in a call centers. Right next to hospitality, it is the industry where you are sure to find a good amount of students.  Hours tend to be more flexible and the pay is better.  Students with a band 6 or higher score on the IELTS are appropriate for this industry could improve their language abilities a lot more than they would in the previous one. Call centers are a great place to work on communication and people skills.

Many universities in Australia offer within the campus for international students.  It might be a little crowded applicant wise but it’s a great way to stay close to your studies. University jobs usually include working in the library, cafeteria, campus stores, or student unions. Depending on your skill set, you may be able to find work as a teacher’s assistant or as a tutor.

Retail stores also offer an opportunity for international students to gain some work experience and improve their understanding of Australian culture.  Clothing shops.  Electronics stores. Department stores.  They are usually open to hiring students with little work experience.

Some students might not have the necessity to earn extra income while studying in Australia.  A good option for them is to do some volunteer work.  Volunteer work usually offers more possibilities of doing different types of work. Not to mention the feel good experience of help others

For those who would prefer to work in something related to their professional interests, an internship is the way to go.  These offer students to get some much experience in their respective studies. Another bonus is the opportunity to network and earn some references.  One thing to take into consideration is that internships usually require working at low-entry positions and that the work can turn a little boring and routine.

Where to look?

International students looking for a full-time or part-time job normally go online to find something suitable.  However, they should start at their university.  Many Australian university have a career center or department that helps students look and prepare for a job.  Additionally, universities often times have agreements set up with companies to help students.

In case the university doesn’t meet the student’s expectations, there are a lot of options on internet. Some of the most popular sites to search are:

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman is the best place to go for foreign students who have any doubts concerning how fair their working conditions really are.  There is plenty of very helpful information.  International students should check the website out before beginning to work.

Studying Down Under can be one of the most enriching life experiences a person can have.  The culture is unlike any other and the people are amazing.  Working there can be especially gratifying for international students.  Many of them often decide to stay permanently.  Knowing how to start off and what the requirements are make it all that more easier.


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