Finding work in Australia


Many international students find their first experience as a volunteer or in discipline-related work experience. Such experience helps to sharpen communication skills, reduce cultural barriers and build your networks. Don't wait for industry placements which may be a requirement of your course. Find your own volunteer or unpaid work experience with a Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisation*. As an enrolled student you will be covered by a student insurance policy that is requested by most employers. Some conditions apply.

As this is a non-compulsory activity, you will need to find your own placement. To find out how to get volunteer or unpaid work experience, here are a few tips:

  • Look for an organisation that offers professional supervision
  • Find out if an organisation is an NFP by looking up their ABN on the Australian Business Registers website
  • Search online through general job boards, organisations' website or volunteering websites such as:
  • Be prepared. Some volunteer work has competitive application processes, particularly if discipline-related.
  • Be ready to submit a cover letter and resume to be considered for work. Some organisations may require you to also submit a document addressing selection criteria

*NOTE: The Australian Fair Work Act confines unpaid work experience to organisations that are not-for-profit.


Applying for professional work can be difficult as the positions are often highly competitive, requiring very specific skills and experience. Moreover part time work is not so common in every profession. The most common work available to students in Australia are jobs in service industries, such as hospitality, labouring and sales. In these industries, you can expect to earn between $15 - $25 per hour. Job seeking for international students in Australia can be difficult and you may need to compromise your ambitions and consider starting level positions which may help you gain local experience. Although work in these fields may not be your ideal career path, they still offer many transferable skills that you can apply to other jobs.


As an international student, employment may be difficult due to study requirements. Your visa also limits the amount of hours you can work per week. You may also be competing with people who have existing, relevant, local experience. Focus on jobs that require technical skills such as computing, administration, engineering, sciences and clerical skills. Try to also identify the skills you have that are high in demand. You will need to be flexible in your availability and transport arrangements to demonstrate your willingness to work.


Internationally education students are often highly regarded when they return to their home country. Businesses employ overseas education graduates because they have acquired: sound problem solving skills, an understanding of culture and life experience, proficient English language skills (both verbal and written) and knowledge of global markets. To compete with locally education graduates, you must ensure that your local language skills are also excellent and that you have realistic expectations of salary and conditions in your home country.

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Understanding your working rights

Visit the Working in Australia page for more information around your visa and working in Australia.