Credit: Steve Maw

Working visa/Permit requirements

Teachers generally seek to teach in Australia on either a temporary short stay or longer term basis or to permanently migrate to pursue their profession. Different requirements apply depending on the choice being pursued.

It is a good idea to check the website maintained by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection for all relevant information on different types of visa and their application requirements: http://www.immi.gov.au/ 

Further assistance can be sought from a registered migration agent authorised by the Australian Government’s Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority at: https://www.mara.gov.au/ 

Non-Australian teachers typically seek and obtain teaching work either because they are sponsored by a particular employer (eg, an independent school or group of schools run by a religious faith), are nominated by a state government agency or are participating in a staff exchange programme. They can also seek and obtain a teaching position independently. There are numerous different visa categories. All however require the particular occupation to be listed on the Skilled Occupations List. Many visas are subject to certain age requirements and suitable skills assessment, including competency in English.

It should be noted that for school teaching purposes there is generally an oversupply of generalist primary school teachers and consequently that occupation is not on the Skilled Occupations List.

National regulations 

Employment terms and conditions in Australia

Australia is a federal State, ie, there are both a national government and some 6 state or territory governments.

Private sector employment (including teaching in non-government or private schools) is covered by the national workplace relations system. This involves minimum statutory conditions of employment (National Employment Standards) which  can be supplemented by national industrial Awards and collective bargaining agreements under the federal Fair Work Act. 

Information on the Fair work system and the National Employment Standards (NES) can be found here

Public sector employment by state government agencies, eg, teaching in state or government public schools, is generally covered by each state’s separate industrial relations system and the policies of each government’s own education department.

Typically there are industrial Awards and collective bargaining agreements covering teacher’s work in early childhood, schools and vocational education and training. These instruments specify minimum wages, hours of work and attendance, Leave and other ‘core’ terms and conditions of employment.

Information on Taxation in Australia

When you start working in Australia, you may need to get a tax file number (TFN). Without a TFN you will pay more tax. The main tax you (and everyone else) pay is income tax, charged on your income, such as salary and wages. Every year you lodge a tax return to tell the Australian government how much income you've received and how much tax you've paid. More information on taxes can be found on the Australian taxation office’s website

Health Requirements

All permanent visa applicants and some temporary visa applicants and in some circumstances, their dependents will be required to undergo health examinations as part of the visa application process.  

If you fail to meet the health requirement your visa may be refused, however this will depend on the visa subclass you applied for. Some visa subclasses allow a health waiver to be exercised in certain circumstances. More information is available here.  

Social Benefits

In Australia only citizens and people with permanent residency visas may claim social security benefits. With the exception of Medicare Australia, new residents are only eligible to claim social security benefits once they have been resident for 104 weeks, this is known as the Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period. Any period of residency counts towards this weekly total.

There are several Medicare payments and services which can help when you or your dependant family members use health care services or need medicine. These include Medicare bulk billing, the Medicare Safety Net, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the PBS Safety Net. These services give you access to free or low-cost medical, optical and hospital care, and access to cheaper prescription medicines.

The Department of Human services provide information for newly arrived residents. 

Working as a teacher in Australia 

Professional qualifications requirements

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is the designated assessing authority for assessing the qualifications of non-Australian teachers applying for visas to work in Australia. Only occupations on the Skilled Occupations List are open to visa applicants.

The following teaching occupations are listed on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) effective April 2014: 

  • Early childhood (pre-primary school) teacher,
  • Secondary school teacher,
  • Special needs teacher,
  • Teacher of the hearing/sight impaired
  • Special Education teachers

Applicants are advised to check the SOL applicable to their circumstances on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website before applying to AITSL for an assessment. AITSL's assessment for migration (skills assessment) is one part of the Skilled Migration process.

Teacher Registration

To be employed as a teacher in a school, teachers must be registered in the state or territory in which they are employed.

While there are National Professional Standards for Teachers and standards for the Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education programs in Australia and administered by AITSL which operate to a achieve some uniformity, each state or territory has its own specific regulations for teacher registration. 

Teachers apply for registration directly to the state or territory teacher registration authority for registration and then subsequently to the various employing authorities, eg, state department of education or a particular private school, for any particular employment position.

Check with the relevant teacher registration board below:

Teachers Registration Board of Western Australia

Teachers Registration Board of the Northern Territory

Teachers Registration Board of South Australia

Queensland College of Teachers

New South Wales Institute of Teachers

Victorian Institute of Teaching

ACT Teacher Quality Institute 

Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania 

Once registered in one state or territory a teacher is able to apply to another teacher registration authority for registration in another state or territory and so gain employment there. This is known as ‘mutual recognition’.

AITSL provides useful information on the mutual recognition principle.

Another useful website provides  information for inter-state mutual registration and conditions of service for teachers in each state: http://www.aussieeducator.org.au/teachers/teacheremployment=2.html 

Types of Employment available for Teachers

Employment as a teacher, including in specialist roles, can be on a casual basis usually for relief, emergency, substitute or supply purposes.

More commonly it can be part-time or full time for a fixed term or temporary period of time or on an ongoing or permanent basis.

Schools may be government owned and run or owned and run by particular religious faiths or even be ‘non-denominational.’

Where to find Teaching Vacancies

Advertised positions are found from state education departments, independent systems and individual schools, in both print and internet media. Some apply to individual schools at a specific site [usually non-government] while others operate across regions or the whole state [usually the government system or one of the systemic groups such as the Catholic School System]. 

Support Structures for Recruited Teachers 

Teacher unions

Australian Education Union (AEU) 

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) 

Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU)