How to Find Work on a Student Visa in Australia

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Noura Yousef

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27 January, 2020

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5 mins read

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Did you know that the average monthly cost of living for any international student in Australia is AU$1,753? It is mostly spent on accommodation, transportation, food, clothing, bills, and entertainment and domestic trips. Generally, if you are a student studying in Australia, you would not be satisfied with just staying at your student home, therefore, extra spending money is needed for a trip or two throughout the year. To add that bit of extra money to your student bank account, you will need to search for a side job wherever you live.

Can International Students Work While Studying in Australia?

You are entitled to work up to 40 hours every two weeks only as an international student. You can use your university portal to find a suitable job. The University of Queensland in Australia as well as Monash University, La Trobe, and the University of Sydney are few of the universities that offer work opportunities on their websites and of course, students are preferable in most jobs. However, If you are planning on working away from your university, there are few things to keep in mind.

What are Australia's Workplace Laws and Regulations for International Students?

Generally, you have to be aware of three important factors while applying for a job in Australia as a student, your pay, work hours, and worker compensation right when applicable.

  • You are only allowed to work up to 40 hours every two weeks throughout the Australian term. Yet, during the holidays, you can work as much as you need.
  • Your pay should never be lower than the average amount announced by the government annually.
  • You have the right for a workers compensation if you are ever injured on the job.

As an international student, you are treated the same as any local student when it comes to the laws and regulations you should follow. The Australian Government's Fair Work Ombudsman ensures that your student rights as an employee in Australia are always protected as long as you apply for a Tax File Number and work the hours that are allowed.

students working as a parttime job in Australia

What is an Australian Tax Number?

Australia imposes an income tax system on all its workers, it is a progressive tax system, meaning the rate increases as the taxable amount increases. However, it also has a tax-free threshold where you won’t have to pay any taxes if your yearly income did not exceed AU$18,200.

Even if you are a temporary worker, as long as you are working in Australia you need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) at the Australian Taxation Office. Taxes are only applicable if your earnings exceed a specific number; however, you must have a TFN. It is yours for life once you have it and you should give it to your manager at work to ensure your taxes are paid on time, and you never have to pay more than you need. You also need to keep in mind that having a TFN means that you will need to submit a "Tax Return" document each year.

Why you should always ask for a payslip?

By law, you are supposed to know the amount you have earned and the amount of taxes taken from your wage from your payslip, therefore, it is an essential document. Usually, you will get a payslip within a day of getting paid, however, if that didn’t happen, make sure to tell your employer as it will help you track your taxes and work hours.

how to get a job as a student in Australia

What are Student Work Types in Australia?

While the rules state that as a student you are only allowed a certain number of hours to work every two weeks, two work types allow you to cover these hours in different manners in Australia, casual jobs and part-time jobs. 

A casual job is a job without a fixed number of hours weekly; an irregular job with a higher rate than a part-time job; however, it is uncertain as it could stop at any time. It’s a very suitable job type for students, but, you don't get paid for days off or sick leaves.

Part-time jobs, on the other hand, are the opposite; you usually have limited hours to work daily or weekly, determined by a contract. You get the usual hourly-rate as agreed upon in your contract; however, you also get a certain amount of days off and sick leaves.

Depending on your schedule, both casual jobs and part-time jobs could be suitable for your lifestyle.

What are the Best Work Fields for Students?

Because students require flexible hours to match their workload with their studies, specific fields are deemed preferable for a student looking for a job in Australia. If you are working in a clothing store, you will have the freedom to choose your shift to match your schedule, so retail is one of these fields. Other famous fields you should consider is hospitality, as you can easily pick a reception night shift or work as a waiter/waitress in a restaurant. Seasonal work, like farming, is also an option if you are not in a dire need for money. You will only work during a specific period, and once the task you are assigned to is finished, you will get paid.

Nevertheless, if you are looking at the opportunity to work as a way to strengthen your resume, it is better to search online for a job that accepts students in your field of study. A paid internship will help you get more money and gain more experience.

students working as a team in Australia

Where to Submit your Resume?

Once you are aware of your rights, the opportunities you have and the field you can work in, it is time to submit your student resume to multiple places.

  • Apply to Australian online job portals like Seek, MyCareer, and CareerOne. If your resume is updated and you have a killer cover letter, you will get an interview within a couple of days.
  • Face-to-face approach, where you directly head to the place you wish to work at and ask if they are looking for part-timers, then leave your resume with their employees is another way. This approach is perfectly suitable if you are searching for an opportunity in the retail field as they do not always advertise online to get employees.
  • If you are looking for a job in a particular field, try searching the careers section in multiple companies in the field you wish to pursue. If you are lucky enough to find a vacancy or submit your CV for consideration, you might get a call that will help you move forward faster in the career you wish to pursue

A good resume is essential to ensure your application to any of the previous places is accepted. Many universities and educational institutions have career services that can help you write a professional resume that is accurate and error-free. However, if your university doesn’t offer that service, try reading our Australia's Student Job Search Strategies blog for more insights on how to prepare a good resume and cover letter.


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