Study in Australia: Working while studying

Studying abroad can be quite costly. Working while studying can be beneficial in many ways. Learn how you can work while you study in Australia.

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Studying abroad is a large investment.  Working while studying can be beneficial in many ways, and all international students in Australia are eligible to work while studying.  Students holding a valid visa (subclass 500) can work up to 40 hours per fortnight during semester and unlimited hours during semester breaks.  This is to ensure that students focus on their studies when they have to, but can maximise their earnings when they are not.

Part-time employment

Industries that provide part time employment opportunities include:

  • Retail
  • Hospitality
  • Tourism
  • Agricultural
  • Sales and telemarketing
  • Administration or clerical roles
  • Tutoring

Undertaking a part-time job whilst studying in Australia is extremely worthwhile.  Firstly it can help with living expenses.  Secondly, working part-time provides an opportunity to practice your English language skills with native speakers in an environment outside an institution.  The best way to learn a language is to practice and put the skills you learn to use in everyday life.  This helps to build fluency and importantly confidence.

Thirdly, working part-time in Australia broadens your study experience.  Moving away from home to another country alone to pursue studies poses many challenges.  The skills learnt however, while living independently, being responsible for your own studies and wellbeing will be lifelong.  Part-time jobs help develop valuable skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time-management and responsibility which are vitally important for long-term career success.  Even though a part-time job may not be related to your field of study, it helps to develop you as a person in so many other ways.

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Internships

Besides regular part-time work, student visas in Australia allow international students to take up paid and non-paid internship opportunities.  Relevant work experience is desirable for employers.  Internships strengthen the skills you learn during your course, help you learn new ones that are essential for the real world, and provides a great platform to gain professional contacts and grow your network.

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Volunteering

Volunteering is another great way of improving your soft skills.  It is a great way to meet, interact and become friends with locals.  It can also be a great way to build skills related to your field of study if you find the right position.  Some examples of volunteering include events, social media coordinators, mentors, drivers, administration and more.  To find a volunteering opportunity in Adelaide, head to the Volunteering SA&NT website.  To read a story about how Vincent from China found volunteering helped him build confidence and language skills.

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Things you should know

Before commencing work in Australia, there are a few essential pieces of information that all international students need to be aware of.

Tax File Number (TFN)

Every person that works in Australia needs to register for a tax file number. This is a personal reference number issued by the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) and is used to file tax reports and important government documents. You can apply for one online here. 

Minimum wage and superannuation

In Australia, there is a minimum wage which applies to everyone including international students.  The current minimum wage in Australia is $18.93 per hour.  If an employer offers any less than this amount, they are breaking the law.  For further information, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman.  Wages can be paid in cash, however an employer must present a payslip showing the amount of money paid, the amount of tax withheld, number of hours worked, contributions to superannuation and other things like leave entitlements where appropriate.   International students are also entitled to superannuation, which is an amount paid to an account beyond your wages.  The current minimum superannuation rate is 9%.

Challenge of unfair dismissal from a job

Australian workers (and international students working) have rights at work which are governed by national laws.  If you lose your job unfairly for things like exercising your rights or being discriminated against, you are entitled to make a claim to be compensated for lost payor reclaim your job provided that you can supply evidence.  Click here for more information.

Leave, breaks and rest periods

Depending on the type of employment and length of the shift, employees are entitled to breaks in between shifts and leave. These should be listed and specified in your employment contract.

A healthy and safe work environment

Under work health and safety laws (WHS) in Australia, employers must ensure workplaces are free from all safety hazards, meeting all occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations. 

Where to start looking?

Don’t know where to begin? These are the most common job search platforms used in Australia:

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