It’s all very well thinking you can jump on a plane and head ‘down under’ and find work when you get there, and the truth is, you can…But we caught up with Mark Richardson, who’s been there, done that and boasts his crocodile bites proudly! Here are the facts and some information to inspire you:
CAPITAL CITY: CANBERRA
CURRENCY: AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS
POPULATION: 20 MILLION PLUS
TIME DIFFERENCE FROM UK: + 11 HOURS GMT
AVERAGE FLIGHT TIME: ABOUT 23 HOURS
OFFICIAL WEBSITES: WWW.AUSTRALIA.COM, WWW.AUSTRALIA.GOV.AU
VACCINES ADVISED: TETNUS AND POLIO AS STANDARD
HARVEST MONTHS: YEAR ROUND
VISA REQUIRED: YES FOR ANY KIND OF EMPLOYMENT; AUSTRALIA WORKING HOLIDAY VISA AVAILABLE FOR 18 – 30 YEAR OLDS
“God bless America. God Save the Queen. God defend New Zealand and thank Christ for Australia.” is how the great Aussie actor Russell Crowe once described his home country and as many tourists, backpackers and seasonal workers can testify: this destination can be all you ever dreamed of and more, with some of the greatest adventures on earth to be had and awe inspiring scenery to stir the heart and mind.
Some of the main reasons people chose to visit Australia are for the variety of working opportunities, ease of travel and diverse destinations that boast a multitude of experiences, and the warmer sun kissed climate when compared to the UK. Easily accessible and relatively easy to get a job, it offers a unique experience with plenty of options either side of a stint in Oz to occupy the more adventurous types.
World class beaches that often make top ten lists and hippy surf spots with good breaks, the UNESCO world heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef offers and it’s array of dive sites, remote back to nature experiences in the unspoilt Outback spotting crocodiles or trying to snap more than a tail while whale watching on the East Coast, maybe putting the goggles and skis on to get your snow fix sounds more appealing? The list of memorable experiences is perhaps as vast as the amazing country itself, bringing with it a whole host of opportunities for working abroad.
Getting to Australia
Dozens of airlines now offer the long haul flights required to get down under including the usual operators such as: Qantas, BA, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Cathy Pacific. The cheapest time to travel is in the low season (typically April – June for flights) but also check each individual airline site as often the ‘shoulder’ or off peak periods can vary. Cost can range from £650 to well over £1000 depending on carrier and if you chose to stop over. It’s very easy to dip into the friendly nations of South East Asia or check out life across the pond in the USA using round the world flight options available and consequently many people choose to extend trips en route to Australia or when they leave.
Australian Working Holiday Visa: This is a must for anyone wanting to work in Australia and can be applied for by anyone between 18 and 30 years of age. It allows initially for a stay of 12 months, where employment can be undertaken for no longer than 6 months per employer. In addition The Government will allow Working Holiday Visa holders the opportunity to apply for a second Working Holiday Visa provided they have worked as a seasonal employee in regional Australia for 3 months with the first visa held (note: these three months must have been outside all major cities and will generally be covered by harvest work in certain areas only). This second visa allows for a stay of up to 24 months total. You may also need to provide evidence of sufficient supporting funds (a current bank statement showing approximately £2,200) and an onward flight ticket upon entry or visa application in the UK. Check official websites for more details.
The south typically has the traditional fours seasons (all be it with a shorter spring and autumn) but even during their winter, temperatures can be a comfortable 18 Celsius or may dip below a ‘warm by our standards’, 10 Celsius. With summer temperatures sending the mercury climbing past the 30 degree mark, some desert or bush environments can become roastingly oppressive. This does however bring good harvests of fruit and vegetables at the end, so picking jobs are best found January to May before the winter, if you can call it that, sets in. Snow and frosts are rare, unless at altitude, but temperatures in the desert or bush can drop at night if the sky is clear. However the stunning and stellar star gazing experience easily compensates for any drops in temperature.
In the north and once past the Tropic of Capricorn, the southern summer becomes the northern rainy season and over three quarters of the annual rain fall pelts down for a five month period, December to April. Consequently, cost of living during these times may be slightly cheaper as the tourists are mainly down south enjoying the skin tanning summer. Temperatures in the north may not drop below 25 degrees year round and often scorch the soil for weeks on end while never dipping below 35 in the dry season May to November. The national parks in the north are best visited at the end of the rainy season; think swimming in clean clear plunge pools created by storming waterfalls, and employment opportunities slightly increase in the dry season as the visiting masses swell the transient population.
Top Tip: In some cities it can prove harder to find work during December and January, especially in the southern states (New South Wales, Victoria. South Australia). These are the summer months and consequently students are back in town, making competition for temporary jobs fierce. However in the state of Victoria this is the start of the harvest season so it may be easier to find employment here and pick your way to riches!
Before Heading Off
One thing you’re going to need is a well constructed CV so it’s advisable to work on this before you leave; aim to highlight key points with quantifiable achievements. Print some copies of your CV to take with you and e-mail yourself an electronic version ready for printing or modification once you arrive and are a little more settled. Click the link for some resume tips to consider.
It’s also advisable to try and take some paper copies of references from your last or current employer, or from a university professor or college teacher; this will reduce the timescale needed in any application if you can provide sound references, without your potential new employer having to contact the UK for this information. The best thing to do is to ask your current employer or teacher to write a letter of reference detailing your work ethic or skills; again take a few copies of this with you and also scan a copy and e-mail this to yourself with your ready to roll CV.
Passports and visas are valuable documents and these will be needed for any new job application; again, scan and e-mail copies of these to yourself before you head out. This will not only be of potential use for new job applications and could save you great deal of time and effort in the event of these personal and priceless documents being lost.
First things first:
Tax File Number:
One thing you’re going to need is a TFN or Tax File Number; without this, your new employer must take a whopping 46.5% of your hard earned wages in tax! The first $6000 of annual earnings is tax free so be sure to get this done, although you may need to claim this back when you’re done with working. You will need a passport, valid working visa and a postal address to apply. One of the easiest way to apply for this essential piece of numeral kit is on line. For more information simply visit:
Top Tip: see if it is possible to use the hostel or residential address where you are staying as TFN’s are usually posted out; if you do leave before receiving it, it is possible to find out what your TFN is once it has been allocated by going on line.
Superannuation: This is similar to our own National Insurance contributions and is a fee paid towards retirement, kind of like a government run pension contribution fund; it is paid by the employer at a compulsory rate of 9% of wages paid. People on a working holiday visa can claim this back once they have left the country but will receive it less 30% tax; see the website above for more information.
Australia Employment Opportunities
These are virtually inexhaustible and could range from bar work in the crazy topical north backpacker stop city of Darwin, to being a city slicker Sydney stylie, working for your diving qualifications on the legendary Great Barrier Reef, or maybe crewing a Catamaran while you visit some of the best beaches in the world. It would not be unrealistic to do all of this in twelve months and it is possible to literally ‘work your way around’ Australia; working and saving for a short period of time before heading on. Some of the most common opportunities are:
Office work / temping: Nearly all the major cities will have opportunities for anyone who feels they are competent in this environment; as with the UK temping scene, a good command of software packages such as Word and Excel, together some nifty work on the keyboard will enhance your chances of finding work and make you more a more desirable candidate. Rates of pay can range from $15 to $25 dollars per hours, potentially a few dollars more; this should allow you enjoy all the out of work opportunities while staying in a hostel or rented accommodation, which also helps you soak up the residents scene. Good sources of information are:
Also in the same category are jobs such as call centre work, in bound and out bound telesales jobs, and retail work. You should keep an eye on local papers as well as registering with worth while agencies; hostel notice boards should also be scanned often for potential openings. You will need to treat nearly all interviews (either with a potential employer or agency) as you would a job interview at home. Take with you, or buy as cheap as possible, some formal clothes to create the right impression rather than turning up in your shorts and flip-flops fresh from the beach!
Top Tip: The backpacker magazine TNT is a veritable font of information when looking for any kind of work. It can be found at most hostels or traveller friendly bars (you’ll soon work out where these are!); lots of agencies will be listed as well as stack load of other information regarding work other travel / living essentials.
The agencies listed above also handle recruitment for sectors such as accounting and financial services, I.T., media, HR and sales. Again, most of these roles would be temporary due to the restrictions imposed by the visa but if you have a sound and relevant career history or directly associated qualification it may be possible to look for long term jobs leading to temporary or full time residency (a four year stay is possible on a business visa, when sponsored to stay by a company, but certain criteria such as pay must be met). Check job sections in the local press and established recruitment agencies often; the following official website also has more information: www.immi.gov.au
Fruit and vegetable harvesting jobs:
For some reason working outside, and in some cases doing reasonably physical work, seems to build a great sense of camaraderie and helps form some strong friendship bonds with your fellow co-workers and new found friends. For these reasons, some people chose to follow the harvest trail and pick their way around the country. As previously mentioned this is generally season dependent and can be hard work at times.
South of the Tropic of Capricorn:
In the states of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania the harvest months begin in December and run through till May. During this time just about every kind of fruit and vegetable can be picked, gathered, collected and cut, including: Apples, Cherries, Pears, Avocados, Citrus fruits, and Asparagus to name but a few. A big opportunity is also available grape picking and this can also be found in Western Australia, with plenty of time to sample the finished product of your labours from one of the many wineries to be found. It is possible to find opportunities year round but there will significantly fewer during winter months.
In the North:
April to November, North of the Tropics, brings equal opportunities for those looking for work and prepared to get their hands dirty! Melons, Mangoes, Bananas, Vegetables, are available to put money in your pocket and often opportunities are available year round due to the warmer and less seasoned climate of the South.
This can vary greatly from farm to farm and could include any one of the following:
• Pay per unit picked or by weight harvested (not so good for the slackers but most common!)
• Working week wage, as in other jobs
• Temporary work paid hourly
Anything upwards of $10 per hour should be expected or calculated, and often your board and lodging come included so this can provide an excellent saving opportunity.
Things to consider:
Often harvest work could include anything from long periods standing up, handling heavy buckets telling of your driven efforts, sitting for long periods of time, repetitive actions (as one would associate with picking apples) and a warm working environment. For these reasons, some posts may require a reasonable level of fitness and shifts can start as early 6am; sunscreen should be a given as should a bottle of water and a wide brimmed Outback style hat, minus the corks of course. In return you can expect to experience some real authentic and unique Outback experiences such as watching a gorgeous sunset with your new found friends and co-pickers, and have the opportunity to save while living very cheaply.
For more information on harvesting and associated contacts, check out the counties official website at:
Top Tip: Timing can be crucial for getting a harvest job; arrive too early and there might not be enough work, arrive too late and all the jobs may be done. Research is key and phone ahead to try and find an opening; even if there is nothing at that moment ask when they are likely to need people and see if you can arrange a meeting just before the next crop.
Nannies and Au-Pairs
Despite Australia being the least densely populated country and continent in the world (mainly due to a huge land mass), there continues to be opportunities galore for just about any kind of job or skill you can imagine and family / child work is no exception. The word ‘Au-Pair’ comes from the French word ‘En pair’ meaning ‘equal to’, so often an Au-Pair is not an employee as such, but becomes and is treated as a member of the family/household; Nannies still enjoy this acceptance but may be required to be responsible for infants or younger children and have some relevant qualification.
Most work is for a fixed period of time, usually between 3 and 12 months depending on the requirements of the host family. During school holidays times, shorter placements may become available and all posts are typically live in which allows you save your pay, enjoy a real residents lifestyle and have the wealth of experience from your hosts to draw on for future adventures and regional exploration.
Rates of pay will vary dependent on your age, experience, length of contract and if you have any qualifications in the field of childcare. Au-Pairs could earn $150 – $250 per week for a live in position and a qualified nanny could easily double or treble that figure.
For a ton of information and possible job opportunities check out the following websites:
Bar Work and Waiting Jobs
These can be easily found but may have the draw back of working at unsociable times but in sociable surroundings. If you’re looking for this kind of work keep your eyes peeled in the afore mentioned TNT magazine and in windows of any potential employment establishments; it can also be helpful to simply go from place to place asking owners or managers if they have any work available with a copy of your CV in hand. Do so when sober though, and not at the end of booze fuelled night out in bar you’ve decided you want to work in! For city jobs also check:
Australia Adventure Jobs
Diving and snorkelling, overland adventure tours, sailing trips amongst uninhabited islands, whale watching, skiing and snowboarding in the snow fields, national parks and jungle trips; all of these highly popular activities offer potential jobs especially during peak times. See our post about becoming a dive instructor on this blog. They are often not advertised especially in small towns but it can be worth keeping an eye out on hostel notice boards or at the offices / shops of operators; if this is something you choose to try and pursue, contact all local operators in person or on the phone that are listed in local press / magazines or on notice boards. Ask if they have any work going, if the response isn’t what you wanted to hear, ask if they are likely to have anything in the coming weeks and offer to leave your details. It might be easier to find work when you’re actually in the place or town you want to work in, but this could also mean some hanging around to find something; it is easier than trying to find work remotely though and will give you a better understanding of key companies or operators.
As previously mentioned, it is possible to apply for a business visa that allows for a four year stay, given that a willing company provide sponsorship. Someone with a skilled trade such as air conditioning engineer (the number one sought after employee) or hairdresser would also potentially qualify for a long term visa, with a points system in place to calculate eligibility. A working holiday visa might provide a good introduction before committing to something long term and extended stays can always be applied for when you’re there.
The land of cold beers, hot summer days at the beach, crocodiles and kangaroos, reefs and rocks, dusty open air Outback camps, lush topical jungles and snow covered mountain retreats offers a veritable font full of new experiences that’s also overflowing with opportunities for Working Abroad.
Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart (Tasmania)
Other worth while towns:
Cairns, Alice Springs, Port Douglas, Fremantle, Byron Bay, Coober Pedy and Geelong
Bondi (Sydney), Whitehaven (Whitsunday Islands), Horseshoe Bay (Magnetic Island), Gold and Sunshine Coasts (Brisbane)
INTERVIEW – Sydney Australia Jobs =>