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Earning money as an international student in Australia

Studying in Australia? Getting a job might help you save

Young international student laughing with friends while working on a laptop in the uni library
Young international student laughing with friends while working on a laptop in the uni library

Australia is a beautiful country to explore, but the cost of living here may be higher than you’re used to. (However, being home to four of the world’s 10 most liveable cities, you can be certain that you’ll experience an unbeatable lifestyle!)

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can earn some extra money to fund your adventures.

Visa restrictions and student jobs

The most important thing to be aware of is what kind of work you can and can’t do and how many hours you’re allowed to work under the terms of your visa. Typically, international students are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours in a two-week period. The Australian Government can temporarily change the limit on working hours for those on student visas across all or selected sectors.   

We suggest that you regularly check for government updates on how many hours you’re allowed to work to make sure you don’t unintentionally breach the terms of your visa.

Working as a graduate

Australia offers a range of options to allow you continue working here once you’ve finished your studies. For example, the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) can allow recently graduated international students to live and work in Australia for up to four years.

When you move from a student visa, you will need to switch your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to a Working Visitor Health Cover (WVHC). nib offers a range of health covers that meet the Department of Home Affairs requirements on a range of range of visa subclasses. Plus, as an nib member, you can easily transition from your OSHC to OVHC, so you’re ready to start looking for jobs faster.

Jobs that are in demand for international students

It’s very common for students in Australia to work while they study, so plenty of employers will understand your circumstances and limited working hours. Jobs in retail and hospitality are great options and will usually let you work around your class schedule.

In these areas, you could work as a shop assistant, wait staff or even as a delivery driver. Australia has set a minimum wage to ensure that workers are paid fairly. If you have any questions or concerns as an employee in Australia, reach out to the Fair Work Ombudsman - they’re there to help everyone, including international students.  

You could also consider short-term work in the events sector, which is often looking for people to work in ticketing or as general assistants.

To excel in retail and hospitality, you’ll need good verbal communication and customer service skills and the ability to learn and adapt in new environments quickly.

Depending on your field of study, you could also find paid internship opportunities. This is a great way to make money and grow your expertise in your chosen field.

Where to find a job

Finding a job in Australia doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are several great resources out there.

Online job boards

Most people look for jobs using online job boards. Some of the most widely used job boards include Seek and Indeed. You can find available jobs in almost every sector on these sites.

You can even visit the nib career portal to see if there are roles available where you live.

Alternatively, use your LinkedIn profile to look for jobs and connect with peers. Many companies advertise jobs on LinkedIn, but you’re less likely to find hospitality and retail work here.

Many retail and hospitality venues are struggling with low staff numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so if you take a walk through your local area, you may well come across cafés and shops that are hiring.

Contracting, freelancing and tutoring

If you like setting your own hours, you could try freelancing or contract work. If you’ve got some graphic design or writing skills, you could find work via popular freelancing websites like Upwork.

Tutoring secondary school students is also a great option if you have knowledge in a particular subject. Lots of kids need help with subjects like maths and science. If you speak a second language, you may also be able to find work as a language tutor.

Contract work is also an excellent source of cash. You could consider temping, where you take over a role in a company on a short-term basis. Temporary workers typically do jobs like data entry or receptionist duties.

Stand out to employers 

There are many ways you can make yourself more employable.

For instance, if you want to work in hospitality, it’s a good idea to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate. Most employers who serve alcohol will require you to have an up-to-date RSA.

There are other certificates that some employers might require. These include an up-to-date First Aid Certificate or a Working with Children check. You’ll usually find information on any certificates you need in the job advert.

If you want to work in a café but don’t have much experience, you could consider doing a barista course. This will teach you everything you need to know about coffee. You’ll even learn some latte art to impress your friends!

Another option is to volunteer, which is a great way to make new friends and boost your job prospects at the same time. The right volunteering role will let you work on your soft skills, like communication, interpersonal and time management. It’s also a great chance to network, and it could open the door for future opportunities.

No matter where or how you’re looking for a job, it’s a good idea to make sure your resume is up to date and presentable. Your university’s careers service may be able to assist you with this.

Australia is a great place to live, study and work. With a bit of effort, you’ll be able to find a job flexible enough to fit around your study schedule and gives you skills you can apply to your future work.