Australia is a popular place to study – great weather, great beaches, great universities, what’s not to love? – and the number of international students in the country hit new highs in 2016.
But it’s expensive too. International student tuition fees, not to mention living costs, mean you’ll be paying a lot more than a local student to get the same degree. That’s why many international students work while they’re here. But getting a job in an unfamiliar country isn’t always straightforward, so we’ve answered some burning questions to get you started.
Can I work in Australia if I have a student visa?
Yes, you can. Student visa (subclass 500) allows you to work for up to 40 hours a fortnight while studying, and for an unlimited number of hours when you’re on a study break or doing a master’s or doctoral degree. It costs $560 AUD.
How do I start to study and work in Australia?
Firstly, you need a tax file number (TFN) which you can get from the Australian Tax Office.
Next you’ll need to make sure your resume is up to scratch – check out our free Knowledge Guide to writing a great resume – and polish up your LinkedIn profile.
When you’ve done all that it’s time to look for a job, here are a few places to start:
- Job boards such as Seek or Indeed
- Talent community platforms like LiveHire
- The careers department at your university
- Shops, restaurants and cafes on your university campus
- Recruitment agencies that specialise in part time or casual work
Be persistent, you probably won’t land the first job you apply for.
What are the best jobs to apply for?
In Australia, there are three main types of employment:
- Full time: usually around 38 hours of work a week, with paid annual leave and sick leave.
- Part time: under 38 hours of regular, guaranteed work each week but you’re still entitled to paid annual leave and sick leave.
- Casual: irregular hours that aren’t guaranteed and come with no paid leave. However casual workers usually get paid a higher hourly rate.
Most students will be looking for part-time or casual work to give themselves time to study and to comply with the limits on their visa we mentioned above. That means retail, hospitality, customer service and call centre jobs are popular options because they give you the flexibility to work around other commitments.
Do I have rights as an international student?
Yes, every worker in Australia, including you, has rights and protections their employer must comply with. Here are a few to bear in mind:
- Fair pay: there are minimum rates that employees must be paid based on the work they do and the award their role falls under (awards are industry-specific minimum conditions set by the government). Use an online pay calculator to find out what you should be earning.
- Equality: all workers in Australia have the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination based on race, sex, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion or political views.
- Safety: employers must abide by occupational health and safety (OHS) guidelines and provide you with a safe and healthy workplace. If you are injured at work you’re entitled to workers’ compensation which may pay for your medical treatment or income until you get back to work.
- Superannuation (a pension): if you’re over 18 and earn more than $450 AUD per month, you are entitled to superannuation. This is a compulsory contribution by your employer into a superannuation fund. When you leave Australia, you may be eligible to have it paid to you as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP).
Preparation will help you get a job, knowing your rights will make sure you’re treated properly when you’re in it. And the extra money you earn will help make your time in Australia even more memorable.
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