So you’ve made it to Australia to study. Now, it is time to ensure you are financially stable throughout your studies while remaining committed to your education. This may seem like a real challenge. However, it is a fairly common practice among students in Australia, both local and international.
Apart from the financial benefits, working while studying teaches you money management skills and on-the-job skills, it gives you confidence, and it helps you pave the way for future jobs in Australia after graduation.
If you want to learn how to navigate working in Australia as an international student, read further to learn about topics such as your rights as a worker, student visa working hours, the best jobs for students, and much more.
Work Rights & Protections for International Students in Australia
International students staying in Australia through an Australian student visa share the same basic work protection rights as any other worker. Work health and safety (WHS) laws exist to ensure that each employer respects the rights and safety of its employees regardless of the industry. Each state and territory has its own WHS laws and regulators; however, Safe Work Australia created the model WHS laws that each state and territory implements in their own laws.
This model WHS Act ensures that:
- Employees are protected from harm and risk is minimised or eliminated by duty holders.
- Employees have the right to representation, cooperation, and consultation.
- Unions and employer organisations are encouraged to promote WHS improvements, etc.
These laws also ensure that each employee has the right to paid leave, to be paid at least the minimum wage, to be protected from unfair dismissal, and more. If you are treated unfairly at work, you should ask for help from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Student Visa Working Hours in Australia
Previously, international students in Australia had the right to work 40 hours per fortnight (two weeks) and unlimited hours during breaks. As a measure to allow students to bolster their income during the COVID-19 pandemic and as a solution to workforce shortages, the Australian Government first temporarily relaxed the working hour cap to then remove it entirely in January 2022.
The cap is going to be reintroduced on 1 July 2023 and will increase from the previous 40 hours per fortnight to 48 hours per fortnight. The working cap is being reinstated to ensure that international students maintain their studies as the primary purpose of their stay in Australia.
Minimum Wage in Australia
The minimum wage is the base pay rate for ordinary hours worked and depends on the industrial instrument, that is awards, workplace agreements, or industrial agreements that apply to your employment. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) reviews minimum wages yearly to make necessary adjustments.
As of 1 July 2022, the national minimum wage in Australia was lifted to $21.38 per hour or $812.60 per week, for a 38-hour week (before tax). This minimum wage applies to award and agreement-free employees, however, most employees in the national workplace system are covered by a modern award that contains minimum wage requirements among other terms and conditions.
The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay Calculator can help you calculate base pay rates, allowances, and penalty rates in accordance with your award.
Paid Leave in Australia
Except for casual employees, all other employees in Australia are entitled to paid annual leave which is regulated by the National Employment Standards (NES). Part-time and full-time employees (students typically work part-time) get four weeks of annual leave, depending on their ordinary work hours. It is, however, common to receive five to six weeks of annual leave in many workplaces.
Your leave begins to accumulate from your first day of work and you can take it as soon as it is accumulated. According to Australian Unions, workers in Australia accrue approximately 2.92 hours of annual leave per week. You can use the Fair Work Ombudsman Leave Calculator to calculate your annual leave entitlement.
Tax File Number and Taxation for Jobs While on Student Visa
The tax file number (TFN) is a unique personal reference number in the tax and superannuation systems. If the course you are enrolled in Australia lasts six months or more, you may be regarded as an Australian resident when it comes to tax purposes. This means that you pay the same rate of taxes as a resident would as well as you benefit from the tax-free threshold, tax offsets, and lower tax rates compared to a foreign resident. For this reason, you will have to apply for a TFN, which is a free-of-charge and easy process done through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Australian residents pay 0% on their first $18,200 and 19 cents for each dollar for incomes ranging from $18,201 to $45,000, whereas foreign residents pay 32.5 cents for each dollar for incomes ranging from 0 to $120,000. If you earned more than $18,200 throughout the financial year, you qualify for the tax-free threshold and you will have to lodge a tax return by the end of the financial year. You can also benefit from the tax offsets that reduce your payable tax to zero. For example, if your income is $37,500 or less, you will get the maximum offset of $700.
What Type of Work Can You Do on a Student Visa in Australia?
Since the Australian student visa working hours cap of 48 hours per fortnight (starting July 2023), student visa holders in Australia cannot work full-time jobs. This means that students can only work part-time jobs and casual jobs that are more flexible and allow them to adjust working hours according to their course schedule.
Best Jobs For Students in Australia
Finding a job that is complementary to your field of study is ideal, however, not many students can do so. Instead, students usually find part-time or casual jobs that are more flexible.
Some typical jobs for students in Australia include:
- Administrative Assistant
- Community Worker
- Customer Service Officer
- Data Entry Officer
- Delivery Driver
- Dog Walker
- Events Manager
- Sales Assistant
- Social Media Manager
- Uber Driver
Student Job Salary Expectations
Salaries for international student jobs in Australia depend on many factors such as the employer, your qualifications, location (bigger cities typically have higher wages), the type of job, etc. However, most entry-level positions pay between $25-$35 (as of March 2023). This is subject to change with inflation and the revision of the national minimum wage.
How to Find a Student Job in Australia
There is a number of ways to go about finding a job as an international student in Australia. First, you can check with your university if they offer jobs for students. Many universities will post student job openings for roles such as library assistant, tutor, administrative assistant, etc.
The next way to search for jobs is to check employment websites. Some popular job search websites and social networking sites in Australia include:
- My Career
When you’re searching for a job, make sure you have a resume that stands out and highlights your skills and abilities. If you want to develop your skills beforehand, consider volunteering or completing an internship before starting work.
If you’re an international student in Australia, working part-time may be necessary due to student expenses. We hope to have provided you with useful information so that you are fully-informed before starting your first job as a student in Australia.