Would you fly halfway around the world just to work abroad in Australia?
I did, and thousands of others do too!
Australia is known for savage wildlife, kangaroos, sexy accents, barbies (BBQs, not dolls), and for having not much else but a massive large rock in the center. While these all may pretty true, Australia, of course, has a lot more to offer. And one those things is a fab work-life balance that puts most of the rest of the world to complete shame.
While I thought of many ways I could possibly stay longer in Australia (i.e marry an Aussie…mmm, that accent), I decided to start off with the easiest, cheapest, and most legal way—getting a job in Australia, on a working holiday visa.
Australia is an incredible country to live AND work in and I couldn’t recommend coming here to work and save up a bit anymore. (Oh, and when I mean save… I mean REALLY SAVE! Wait for it…)
Interested in what it’s like to work here? Here’s how to get a job in Australia without experience, what it’s like, and why it’s awesome!
Work Abroad in Australia—Overview
So, if you’re from The States, there are a few things to get used to, the pay, the work-life balance, and the lifestyle in general. While the federal minimum wage in the US is $7.50, you’ll see $15 AUD an hour ($12 USD), in Australia, and you can expect more. I worked in hospitality and retail and made upwards of $25 AUD ($20 USD) an hour, for the nicest most laid back gigs!
Also unlike America, the work-life balance is on point in Australia. You are expected to relax, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy leisure time, just for the sake of (gasp!) leisure.
At one of my jobs, I accrued vacation days. Let that sink my American friends… VACATION DAYS.
Those days that we crawl, beg and die for in the USA and when we actually earn them, get scoffed at for actually using them. Yeah, I accrued those on my measly working holiday visa while I worked abroad in Australia without experience at a job that was only going to last 6 months!
I got a whole two weeks PAID vacation after working part-time at the easiest job in the world (retail surf shop).
If you’re curious, I spent one of those weeks snorkeling and climbing volcanoes in Indonesia and the next week I used as a paid week after my visa ran out, so I got paid a week after I left the job. Yeah…
The lifestyle is also fabulous. Seriously. Fabulous. It needed to be said again. In both Melbourne and Darwin, we got a great sense of the lifestyles in two very different locations in Australia.
Even if you’re a bit of a hermit, like I can be sometimes, you cannot beat living and working abroad in Australia. Melbourne gave us a sense of the big city life, with swanky bars, grand Victorian buildings towering over us, and essentially life in one of the greatest cities in the world, no joke (it’s literally one of the best).
Darwin gave us that small town, rural life, with quaint little suburbs and local markets, and a good opportunity to just stay in and enjoy a beer together while we tried not to melt into our couch (it gets hot AF).
1. How to Get a Job in Australia—Getting a Visa First!
This one is actually pretty simple. If you’re under 31, and hopefully, if laws change, under 35 (they keep talking about it and nothing so far!), you’ll be applying for a subclass 462 working holiday visa if you’re from the US or a few other countries. Most of the EU and a few other locations would obtain a subclass 417 visa.
To Get the Visa That Allows You to Work Abroad in Australia
- You’ll need to meet the age requirement.
- Have $5000 AUD in the bank (technically but actually needed? eh…)
- A passport, duh.
- The ability to speak English and a high school diploma.
- Money for the application fee.
- Passport photos.
That is legit all you need to know to figure out how to get a job in Australia if you’re from the US and a hand full of other countries. Easy peasy!
Here is my complete guide to the Australian working holiday visa.
Once you get your visa, you’re free to head to Australia and get a job! You can now stay and work on your visa for 1-2 full years (depending on where you’re from), plenty of time to wander or work your ass off so you can make it rain (with travel experiences), around the whole continent and or beyond.
2. Can I Work Abroad in Australia Without Experience?
You might feel like you need some extraordinary experience to work abroad in Australia.
Perhaps you need to be some kind of skilled worker or prove yourself with years of experience from back home. Maybe you need a CV the length of your arm or accolades out the bum.
In short: You don’t! You can work abroad in Australia without experience—Seriously!
There are all walks of life coming over to work in Australia from pubescent backpackers who’ve barely framed their high school diploma to people with years of unrelated experience doing who knows what and squeezing in before their 31st birthday (the latter was me)
If you’re coming over to work abroad in Australia it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or haven’t; it’s all about the attitude and the way you present yourself.
Things to Think About When Getting a Job in Australia
Are you decently dressed? Or are you adorned with those elephant pants you spent your last dollar on in Thailand before flying over?
Got dreads? Have you decided against deodorant? Are you at least put together and showered?
Are you serious about the job or have you already got your next move planned in three weeks? Can you show that you plan to stick around for about six months?
Are you lamenting your lack of experience, or are you playing up your strengths?
Are you proud of your resting bitch face, or do you sport a wide smile accompanied by a shimmer in your eye? (to be fair, I have RBF but I know when I need to turn it down.)
It’s really not that hard and doesn’t take a lot of brain cells to figure out how to get a job in Australia without experience! Just use that noggin, don’t be righteous, and slap a damn smile on that pretty face of yours, and you’ll be golden. Oh, and shower. Definitely shower.
See? Now you not only know how to work abroad in Australia without experience. You also know how not to get a job, period.
3. When to Look for Jobs in Australia
I get asked when to look for a job in Australia often, but the real question you need to ask yourself is what type of job are you aiming for?
If you want to work at a ski resort, would it make sense to rock up at the peak of summer? Probably not.
If you want to work in retail and are looking to get those holiday hours in, do you think it would be smart to stroll in on the 5th of December? Nope. Jobs are full, buddy! See ya next year.
Side note: I did this! Trust my experience, when I arrived on December 5th in Melbourne, it took me until January to actually find a job. A month wasted. Don’t do this! I make mistakes so you don’t have to, you’re welcome. 🙂
It is pretty similar to life in the US; what would you do back home? You’d go in BEFORE the season starts.
When actually applying for jobs, it’s a good idea to go in the middle of the day for many things. Lunch rush and dinner rush are both insane times to walk into a restaurant or retail locations looking for work. Managers may actually be annoyed with you for not knowing better.
When people walked in at an inconvenient time where I worked, we would sometimes mark their CV, just throw them out, or simply say we weren’t hired to get rid of them. Seriously, do your homework. Don’t walk in at a stupid time.
Don’t go job hunting on the weekends. You know how busy any time of day can get on the weekends.
DON’T FORGET! Australia is in the southern hemisphere – if you’re like 90% of my audience, you’re from Europe, Canada, or the US – and our summer is their winter. Don’t rock up in June with your bikini in hand.
4. What Part of Australia Should I Look for Work In?
This one is tricky to nail down because it is really going to depend on one important factor: you! Are you a big city lover? Definitely, don’t go to Darwin—small-town vibe, super chill, and super quiet.
On the other hand, if big cities are your thing, there are plenty to choose from; however; competition could be more fierce.
Remember, backpackers flock to the East coast of Australia where they can hang in Sydney or surf on their time off and live the high life.
And that’s great; you can totally do that, but be prepared for every other backpacker trying to get a job in Australia to be on your heels, walking into shops and restaurants with a CV in hand as well.
I wanted some city life so I chose Melbourne because it felt like a happy medium of getting to live in a city but NOT being on the east coast where everybody and their mother was. And I totally got what I wanted, a couple of great jobs, great pay, an awesome apartment in one of the best areas to live. I really was living the life!
With that said, competition in Melbourne was still pretty savage, just not as bad as on the East Coast. How do I know? Becuase I make friends everywhere, and I do my homework. 🙂
People on the east were having trouble finding jobs, and even when they did, they got paid less than me.
My conclusion—travel the East Coast, don’t work there (not if you’re actually trying to save money that is). Of course, there are exceptions and you can totally find some wicked jobs on the East Coast. This isn’t a rule, just something to mull over.
Then I went to check out small town nowhere aka Darwin (OK it’s not THAT small but it’s pretty small and close to absolutely nothing). Winter, which is upside down summer from the US, is dreadfully cold in Melbourne, so Garrett and I hightailed it outta there at the first sign of frigid.
Small town work is also worth exploring. The pay is still good, and sometimes even better because they are desperate for people to hang out there for more than a few days. The trade-off is a lack of things to do and having a fun city full of life. Darwin was a bit boring really, but doable. (Side note: There are nicer things to do outside of Darwin)
Take This Example When Thinking Where to Look for Work in Australia
Garrett is a highly skilled bartender with over 10 years experience. He got hired in Melbourne at an upscale swanky bar at $22 AUD plus tips. Garrett was making cocktails that required time, skill, and high-end ingredients—he loved it. This is his thing.
Darwin, on the other hand, is a bit bogan (which is Aussie for “redneck”) and fancy cocktails aren’t as big of a thing. He got hired there at $30 AUD an hour and 80% of his drinks were simply pouring Carlton draft (the Aussie equivalent of Budweiser).
Downgrading to that job was slightly soul-sucking for him since he enjoys making cocktails but who in their right mind turns down $30 AUD for pouring a draft beer? NOBODY!
Sometimes it pays off to work in the more remote or less popular areas because they are willing to pay to keep you there!
Main Tips for How to Get a Job in Australia
Australia is a super chill place to work and live. If you can only go to one place, you can’t go wrong here. It really is just a matter of being prepared for what’s to come, and now you are! Have your CV ready, look up your potential employers online, put on some decent clothes, comb your hair, smile, and keep these tips in mind:
- You can really leverage your first few days, or even a couple weeks (like I did) checking out the scene. Go have a beer and scope the bar out. Grab a coffee and chat up the barista. Many jobs are acquired through word of mouth and networking.
- Freshen up your CV before you leave home, and have it ready to print out. Then, just walk in. Don’t you dare print out a CV longer than a page. Keep it simple and relevant. Nobody cares that you volunteered at an animal shelter when you were 15 when you’re applying at a surf shop.
- If you’re applying for a job as a bartender and you’ve never tended bar, that could be a problem if you’re in a big city. But you could easily work at the same spot as a waiter or bar back with no experience. In a small town? You just might get hired! I’ve never bartended, and I got hired as a bartender in less than two days in Darwin. (I went searching for a waitress job too but they needed a bartended more! ha!) Always try!
- Get certifications ready (like an RSA if you’re working in hospitality) and have a bank account, tax # and anything else needed to look more like you’re “on it,” because you are, right? 🙂
- Follow up! Guess what? I would have never got my job in Melbourne if I didn’t follow up THREE TIMES. I finally got the right person on the phone and got hired two days later.
The Main Perks of Working Abroad in Australia
- Good pay with most jobs.
- If you work in the hospitality industry, you get fed fo’ free! Woop Woop!
- Work-life balance is on point in Australia.
- Possible earnings of vacation days even while you’re not a permanent worker.
- You get paid superannuation which is essentially retirement money that you can claim once you leave… This is EXTRA money your employer sets aside for you each paycheck. NOT money that’s leveraged out of your paycheck like the US.
- IF you want to be a permanent worker in Australia, your company may be able to sponsor you! Speak to them if you’re serious (it ain’t cheap so seriously… be serious.)
- You can work in Australia without experince—it’s not difficult.
- You can save a boatload of cash if you put your head down and work at it. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention? I saved over $17,000 USD in 10 months while working in Australia! Not a typo, that’s a cool $17k, my friend!
The point is, it really isn’t difficult at all. Australia looks forward to backpacker immigrant labor. We make up a part of their workforce. It’s not only easy but enjoyable when you’re working for a company that appreciates you and understands you have a life outside of work. Oh, and pays well!
So, are you excited to work abroad in Australia? Do you think you’re up for working in Australia without experience?
Bah, silly question, of course, you are! You got this. Let me know what you think in the comments.
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