Can I work while I am studying in Australia?

5 minutes reading time (968 words)

Are you planning to take up part time jobs while you study in Australia? Here’s what you should know about working in Australia as an international student.

Types of work

  1. Paid work

Australia has a wide range of industries and many have part time employment opportunities, including:

  • Retail- supermarkets, department and clothing stores.
  • Hospitality- cafes, bars and restaurants.
  • Tourism- hotels and motels.
  • Agricultural- farming and fruit-picking.
  • Sales and telemarketing
  • Administration or Clerical roles
  • Tutoring

If you have existing qualifications and/or professional work experience, you may be able to secure casual or part time work in your field.

  1. Internships

Many institutions incorporate internships into their curriculum to give students an experience and opportunity to gain relevant experience. In fact, if you are in the field of study such as Allied Health Care or Tourism and Hospitality, internship or work placement is a compulsory component of the programme.

Though internships are usually unpaid, some internships may be a ‘paid’ internship if you are lucky enough, and this all depends on the organisation you are working for. Internships are a great way for students like you to get relevant exposure to the field you are studying in. If you are lucky, you may also land yourself a full-time job after your graduation!

Most institutions would have a career centre where students can go to seek for advice and assistance in finding work. Some of these career centre work closely with industry partners and employers, hence, you will be able to get exclusive access to jobs and career information.

  1. Volunteering

While volunteering will not get you paid, it definitely will benefit you in many ways - not only in terms of future profession but also on your personal growth. Volunteering can be a great way for you to meet friends, learn new skills and give back to the community. In Australia, there are many charities and non-government organisations (NGOs) whom are always looking for volunteers to help out. You may visit GoVolunteer to find out more. You can also find volunteering opportunities through the relevant student clubs/societies on campus.

Know your rights
Everyone working in Australia, including international students have basic rights at work. These rights protect entitlement to:

  • A minimum wage and superannuation
  • Challenge of unfair dismissal from the job.
  • Leave, breaks and rest periods.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides you information on pay rates, leave calculator etc.
  • A healthy and safe work environment.

Can I work full time on a student visa?
No, a student visa holder is not allowed to be employed on a full-time basis. Please refer to the next question on the limitations on the working hours for a student visa holder.

How long can I work with my student visa?
Anyone who is holding on to a student visa can only work up to 40 hours per fortnight (two-week period) during university semesters, and unrestricted hours during scheduled course breaks. However, if you are a postgraduate student studying masters by research or a doctoral degree, there is no limit to the number of hours you can work.

In general, students should not expect to cover tuition fee but taking up a job may help to cope with their living expenses greatly. Working while studying can ease your living cost there and also help build up your work experience which may in time be useful when trying to land a job.

Is it easy to get a part time job in Australia? How can I apply for jobs?
It is generally common for international students to have a part-time job in Australia. As such, companies are receptive to hiring students on a part-time or causal basis.

Like in Singapore, there are many channels for you to submit your job application. Here are some platforms for you to do so: -

  1. Newspapers and online job sites
  2. Many universities offer students job opportunities to enhance their skill sets through career services or job centres on-campus. Contact your institution’s international student support staff to find out what options your institution offers.
  3. Register your details at a recruitment firm; many of them help place people in casual or short-term work.

How much can I earn from casual or short-term work?
According to Australian Government, the national minimum wage is $719.20 per week (for a 38-hour week), or $18.93 per hour. With that, a student who works a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight will be able to earn an estimate of at least $1,500 a month during term time.

Can my dependants work too?
Yes, if you are a student visa holder, your dependant family members have permission to work too. They will have to follow the work conditions granted to you – which is up to 40 hours of work fortnightly during course duration.

However, if you are a postgraduate student studying masters by research or a doctoral degree, there is no limit on the number of hours your dependants can work.

Do I have to pay for tax while working part-time jobs?
Anyone who wants to work in Australia will have to obtain a Tax File Number. All employers will deduct tax on your behalf (through your salary). Visit the Australian Taxation Office website to find out more information.

What is Superannuation? How does it work?
Superannuation is Australia’s retirement savings system where your employers will pay on your behalf (through deduction from your salary) if you earn more than $450 (before tax) per month and you are 18 years or older or under 18 but work more than 30 hours per week. Anyone will be entitled for superannuation regardless if you are working full-time, part time or casual.

Once you have completed your studies and decides to leave Australia permanently, you may be able to claim your super.[:]

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