Would you fly halfway around the world just to work abroad in Australia?
I did, and thousands of others do too!
Why? People flock to the Land Down Under in hopes of scoring a job and making a pretty penny.
Australia is known for savage wildlife, kangaroos, sexy accents, barbies (BBQs, not dolls), and for having a massive sacred red rock in the middle of the Outback. While these may all be true about Australia, there’s so much more the country has to offer. And one of those things is a fab work-life balance that puts most of the world to complete shame.
While I thought of many possible ways to 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, and I couldn’t recommend coming here to work and save up enough.
And when I mean save, I mean REALLY SAVE!
Interested in what it’s like to work here? Here’s how to start working in Australia, what it’s like, and why it’s awesome!
By following these 7 easy steps, you’ll find yourself living the Aussie life in no time.
Step 1. Get a Working Holiday Visa
You cannot work abroad in Australia without it, not legally anyway. If you’re between 18 and 30 years old (18 and 35 years old for lucky Canadian, Irish, and French passport holders), 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.
These are the requirements to qualify for the visa 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
- Must not be accompanied by any dependent children
- Health insurance during your stay
- Have no criminal convictions or serious medical concerns
That is legit all you need for the working holiday visa to begin working in Australia if you’re from the USA/40 or so other countries. Easy peasy!
Work abroad in Australia and then reward yourself with traveling the country or abroad. Once you get your visa, you’re free to head off to Australia and search for a job! You can now live and work on your visa for 1-2 full years (depending on where you’re from), giving you plenty of time to wander or work your ass off to make it rain (with travel money) around the whole continent and beyond.
Step 2. Understand the Work Vibe in Australia
If you’re from The States, the pay, the work-life balance, and the lifestyle, in general, will feel rather strange to you. While the federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25/hour (although higher in many states and cities), you’ll see $19.49 AUD/hour (about $12.50 USD) in Australia, and you can expect more.
I worked in hospitality and retail and made upwards of $25 AUD (nearly $20 USD with the currency exchange rate at the time) per hour for nice, laid-back gigs.
Also, unlike in 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 in 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 using them. Yeah, I accrued those on my measly working holiday visa while I worked abroad in Australia.
I got a whole two weeks PAID vacation after working part-time at the easiest jobs in the world.
If you’re curious, I spent one of those weeks snorkeling and climbing volcanoes in Indonesia. For the other week, I used it as a paid week after my visa ran out. So, I got paid for a week AFTER I left the job.
The lifestyle is also fabulous. Seriously.—fabulous. Garrett and I lived in Melbourne and Darwin, and we got a great sense of the lifestyles in two very different locations in Australia.
Step 3. Working in Australia Without Experience
You might feel like you need tons of experience to work abroad in Australia.
Perhaps you need to be a 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 people from all walks of life who 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 their working holiday visa 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.
Job Hunting Tips to Work Abroad in Australia Without Experience
Although you don’t need a wealth of experience, the right mindset will take you far when searching for a job in Australia. Plus, most employers will want to see that you’re committed to finding a job the moment you land in Australia.
Are you serious about the job you’re interviewing for 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?
Also, you’ll boost your odds of landing a job with no experience by professionally presenting yourself. Make sure you have proper attire, take care of your hygiene and grooming, and showcase your highest qualities whenever you’re able to schedule an interview.
Remember, play to your strengths and do not lament on your lack of experience.
Not only will this help you work abroad in Australia without experience, but you’ll know how to get a job, period.
Step 4. When to Start Looking for Work in Australia
I often get asked when to look for work in Australia, but the first 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 show up at the peak of summer? Probably not.
If you wish to work in retail and want 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 in Melbourne on December 5th, it took me until January to find a job. A whole month wasted trying to find a job once I landed in Australia. Don’t do this! I make mistakes so you don’t have to, you’re welcome. 🙂
It’s similar to life in the US; what would you do back home? You’d go in BEFORE the season starts.
The Right Time of Day to Introduce Yourself
When you’re applying for jobs, it’s a good idea to go in the middle of the day to speak with management. Lunch rush and dinner rush are both insane times to walk into a restaurant or retail locations looking for work. Managers might be annoyed with you for not knowing better. Not a good first impression you want to make with a potential employer.
When people walked in at an inconvenient time where I worked, we would sometimes mark their CV, just throw them out, or say we weren’t hiring 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.
IMPORTANT TIP! 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.
Step 5. Where to Look for Work in Australia
This one is tricky to nail down because it’s 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. But if big cities are your thing, you’ll have plenty of options. However, there will be more competition for jobs.
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.
Big City Jobs in Australia
If you wish to do the big city route, that’s totally fine. Just 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 since it felt like a happy medium of getting to live in a city but NOT being on the East Coast where everyone else lived. And I totally got what I wanted; a couple of great jobs, fantastic pay, an awesome apartment in one of the best areas to live. I was living the good life!
With that said, competition in Melbourne was still pretty savage, just not as bad as on the East Coast. How do I know? Because I make friends everywhere, and I do my homework. 🙂
People on the East Coast were having trouble finding jobs, and even when they did, they got paid less than me.
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 its swanky bars, grand Victorian buildings towering over us, and life in one of the greatest cities in the world. No joke, it’s literally one of the best.
My conclusion—travel the East Coast, don’t work there (not if you’re actually trying to save money). Of course, there are exceptions and you can find some wicked jobs on the East Coast. It’s not a set rule, just something to consider.
Small Town Jobs in Australia
Small town work is also worth exploring. The pay is good, and sometimes even better since 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 but doable. Side note: There are nicer things to do outside of Darwin.
Darwin gave us that rural vibe with quaint little suburbs, local markets, and a good opportunity to stay in and enjoy a beer together while we tried not to melt into our couch (it gets hot AF).
An Example of Where to Look for Work in Australia
Garrett is a highly-skilled bartender with over 10 years of experience. He got hired in Melbourne at an upscale, swanky bar at $22 AUD per hour plus tips. Garrett was making cocktails that required time, skill, and high-end ingredients—he loved it.
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 per 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!
Step 6. How to Land 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’s 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 follow these tips to start working in Australia.
- You can leverage your first few days, or even a couple weeks (like I did) to check 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. Don’t you dare have 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 but they needed a bartender 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! I would have never gotten 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. Persistence is key if you want to work abroad in Australia and show you’re not like the competition (AKA too lazy to follow up).
Step 7. The Perks of Working in Australia
Once you’ve had a successful interview and landed your first job in Australia, you’ll be on the fast track to all the fabulous perks of working in this laid-back country. Working in Australia was an incredible experience and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Here are the biggest reasons why you should totally work abroad in Australia if you’re eligible.
- 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 with each paycheck.
- 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 BE SERIOUS if you ask).
- You can work in Australia without experience—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 $20,000 USD in 10 months while working in Australia! Not a typo, that’s a cool $20k, my friend!
The point is, it’s not difficult at all. Australia looks forward to backpacker immigrant labor since we make up part of their workforce. It’s easy and enjoyable when you’re working for a company that appreciates you and understands you have a life outside of work. And working for one that pays well is the icing on the cake.
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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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!