Australia is home to more than 40 universities and has the third highest number of international students in the world. Many international students come to Australia to study and complete a degree. When studying in Australia, you will usually have quite some time out of school or university. Finding a student job is accessible and will allow you to save some money or finance part of your studies while studying. But beware, you will still have to manage your time well to have good marks at university, while respecting the working conditions attached to your visa.
Here is a little summary of your rights and duties under a student visa and some tips on how to find a student job in Australia.
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Can you work with a student visa?
Work conditions under a student visa (Subclass 500)
When you are on a student visa, you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during class. However, during school holidays, no limit is imposed and you can work full time if you want to. Note that you cannot start a job before the start of the academic year, which means that you can only work once your classes have started.
Wages in Australia are relatively high. The minimum hourly wage is currently $21.38 (March 2023). But it can dramatically increase depending on your skills and the hours you work. For example, you will be paid a lot more for late shifts, weekend work or public holiday jobs.
Important Note: To address workforce shortages, student visa work hours restrictions have been temporarily relaxed. Until 30 June 2023, all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals and secondary applicants are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy and work before their course of study commences.
Employment Rights in Australia
If you work in Australia, you will be entitled to specific rights, even if you are an international student. Indeed, your rights as an employee are similar to all other workers in Australia. The national minimum wage and the NES make up the minimum entitlements for employees in Australia.
As an employee, you receive entitlements known as the NES (National Employment Standards). These are:
- Maximum weekly hours
- Requests for flexible working arrangements
- Offers and requests to convert from casual to permanent employment
- Parental leave and related entitlements
- Annual leave
- Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
- Community service leave
- Long service leave
- Public holidays
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay
- Fair Work Information Statement and Casual Employment Information Statement
Note: if you are a Casual employee, you won’t have access to all of the NES.
We advise you to carefully read the employment contract you sign. If you have any concerns, or for more information, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Admin tasks before you can work
Get your TFN
In order to work in Australia, you need to apply for the TFN (Tax File Number). The TFN application is mandatory if you want to work in Australia. If you don’t have one, you will be taxed at a maximum rate of 47%.
The TFN can be obtained by applying online at the Australian Tax Office website. It is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The process is free.
Note that when you will start a new job, you will need to complete a TFN declaration form. Most of the time, the employer will provide you with the form and you will have to return it to him directly.
Open a Bank account
You will need to set up a bank account to receive your wages. You can set up your bank account online from your home country before you leave for Australia. When you land in Australia you just go by your chosen bank and present your passport as identification. You will receive your bankcard within a week. This can also be a good option if you want to transfer some funds before arriving in Australia.
Australia has four main banks: Commonwealth, Westpac, NAB and ANZ. There are also other international banks such as HSBC, ING and CITI Bank. We recommend you to pick one of the main banks to be sure to always find an ATM no matter where you are in Australia if you decide to travel later on.
What kind of job can you do with a student visa?
As an international student in Australia, you can work in several sectors and industries. Here are some of the popular jobs for students:
Jobs in Hospitality
With a high turnover of staff, cafes, bars and restaurants are great for students looking for part time jobs. With flexible hours, it’s easy to find a job and work evenings, Saturdays or Sundays (with better pay).
If you have previous experiences in this field, you will have more chances of getting a job quickly. Go to the restaurants, cafes with your resume to hand out directly!
Good to know 👍
For certain jobs, you will need to obtain a certificate.
- If you want to work in pub or a restaurant where they serve alcohol, you will need to get the RSA certificate.
- To work as a barista you will need to pass a barista course.
- If you intend to work in a pub or any gambling related establishment in Australia, you will need to get the RSG / RCG certificate.
- For those willing to work in construction, you will need to get the White Card.
Jobs in Retail
It is also common to find a job in neighbourhood shops, small stores or cinemas in shopping malls. A sales experience you give you an advantage when searching for a job. These jobs also have a practical side with many shops opened on weekends (with better pay and time for you to study during the week).
Jobs in Services
It is also quite easy to find jobs as a nanny / babysitter or a cleaner for example. If you want to work with children, it is imperative to obtain the Blue Card. Also take a look at the ads for delivery, newspaper distribution.
How to find a student job?
It is relatively easy to find work in Australia. Part-time jobs are common, especially in the hospitality sector which is a sector in high demand all year round.
But first, make sure your resume has everything that qualifies you for the job you are applying for. It should also list your interests, skills, education, and previous employment experience. Referencees are also highly important.
Once you have your university / school schedule in hand, don’t forget to write down your availabilities on your resume.
Check our dedicated article for tips and templates : Writing a resume in Australia – Guide & Template
Where to search?
Go to a shopping centre, shopping strip with your resume in hand and drop those directly at the shops. You may find advertisements in restaurant / bar windows, or shop windows etc. To find work in Australia, it is always good to go directly to meet the manager to submit your resume.
Also check with your university / school as they may have a career service. They may also have a job search page on their website, listing all available part-time jobs for students.
We recommend you find a job in your local area or close to your campus (less transport, more time for you).