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Australia: My life as a teacher down under

Career | Published 6 June, 2010 | By: Jennifer Beckles

Andrew Bacon describes the rewards of being a secondary school science teacher in Victoria, Australia.

We wanted to work and enjoy life, instead of just working to live so my wife, daughter and I emigrated to Australia. I started the ball rolling by emailing various states in Australia to see what was available. I got some interesting offers: one was a four year teaching post which had the added perks of a house and paid bills, but it was in the outback, which was a little too remote for us. I decided to go for a secondary school science teacher post in Victoria. Science teaching is a shortage subject here, so I was offered a permanent visa but we still had to find our own housing.

The visa application is very detailed and requires certified copies of everything from A-levels onwards, so you will need to devote time to do this. Lots of people use registered migration agents who are specialist advisers and well-informed about immigration requirements and processes. But if you’re prepared to go through every document with a fine-toothed comb, then you can do it yourself.

I work in a high-achieving Anglican private school with a total of 700 mixed pupils and some boarders (years 7-11). My first day was nerve-racking as I had to do supply work, which could have involved anything from maths to woodwork, or rowing to shooting. I survived!

A typical day involves a daily staff briefing and prayer followed by form time and registration. I teach five lessons per day, each one lasting around 50 minutes with form time at the end of the day.

The best thing about teaching here is that the pupils are extremely respectful of their teachers, far more so than in the UK. They are well behaved, work hard, complete homework and have high aspirations. The downside is the school terms are long (the current one is 11 weeks) and being a private school there are lots of reports, exams and meetings.

The pay is fantastic. I’m currently earning around £36,00 per annum and I’m also due to get a 10% pay rise plus a one-off payment because of my specialist post. This makes it one of the highest paid teaching posts in Australia and I actually now earn more than I did in the UK - with a vastly lower cost of living. A win-win situation! We are currently buying around four acres of land overlooking mountains and forests, and having a brand new house and pool built, with stables for horses later on.

If the idea of better weather, better standard of living, better teaching conditions, friendly staff, more money, hundreds of miles of beaches, mountains, parrots, kangaroos, koalas appeal to you, then come to Australia.

Finally, what key things have I learnt that I will bring back to the UK? That we will never come back! Give it a go, it will probably be the best thing you ever do.

My top tips:

  • Email different Australian states to see what kind of teaching jobs are available
  • Don’t take the first job offered; try working as a supply teacher (known as CRT in Australia) as this will help you to get to know different schools
  • Find out general living information by visiting the government website Australian life
  • Take time to decide where you will live; Victoria is a huge state, so explore different regions
  • Teaching Australia is a government funded body to promote, support and unify the teaching profession and is well worth a visit, as is the portal for the education and training community, edna


Useful organisations:

TES Australia, Teaching Resources
Teaching jobs on TES Australia
TES international jobs
Council of international schools
ISC research,


Need more advice on working abroad? Visit Teaching overseas


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Comment (24)

  • Victoria is not a huge state, it's only the size of the UK!! :o)

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    12 February, 2010


  • Hi Andrew,
    This is insightful and is highly tempting to give consideration to. I was wondering if you had any first-hand knowledge and information about that may help me, before pursuing this aspiration myself.

    Currently, I am completing application forms to get onto a PGCE in Physical Education (to become a secondary school PE teacher).
    A.) Is this worth obtaining in the UK before going to Australia with qualified teacher status,
    B.) Is there a gap for PE teachers/ sports educators out there at this present time. - Worthwhile?

    No worries if you are unsure about the situation. thanks

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    22 December, 2010


  • i've been keeping an eye out for adverts for primary trained teachers. I have been teaching for 10 years, supply teaching for 2 years and teach KS1 and KS2. What is my next step? I am single with no ties, my aunt lives in Sydney and is a retired teacher over there.

    Now what do i do next?

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    22 January, 2011

    marcy 1

  • Great article!

    is there any websites that provide more insight into teaching in Oz such as term dates, the average school day etc. I am very lucky in my current school as the day is 9 until 3.

    Is there a demand for ICT teachers?


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    7 February, 2011


  • Can you teach in OZ when you have only completed a third of your NQT year?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    13 March, 2011


  • Hi Andrew

    My name is Tom and I am an NQT at a school in Manchester. I am really keen to move to Australia as i travelled before starting my PGCE and loved the lifestyle. I currently live at home and am reluctant to buy a house in this country as i would prefer to start the ball rolling to move to Australia in a couple of years time.

    The advice you give is brilliant but where is the best place to start? Did you not apply for a skilled work visa?

    I am keen to settle in Victoria also, who would i contact? I am a Maths teacher, is this a shortage subject?

    Any help you could offer would be appreciated, my email address is


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    30 June, 2011


  • Hi, Thank you for this article. It was really interesting to read. I have just completed my NQT year in year 1 and I am staying the same year next year. I think I need to do another year at the school in a different year to get more experience before I try and get a job in Australia. I;m not really sure where to start in looking for primary school jobs. Have u heard must about primary school teaching in Australia. A lot of the comments I can find is for secondary. Any information or advice you have would be great as i really want to go to Australia for a bit an teach, probably no longer than a year but i don't know where to start. If you can help please email me at Thank you very much

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    1 August, 2011


  • Andrew's article is useful but misses out a lot of vital information. Like the difficulty in getting both your qualifications and experience recognised. I worked in the UK for 4 years and I still had to register with the teaching body for each state and you cannot teach until you are approved to teach within that state. Then you are left to find your own work, where for a PE teacher is a massive shortage. The pay isn't as good as what Andrew states and if you live in a city area where the cost of living is higher it is pretty mediocre. I have hardly got any interviews for the positions I have applied for and it is very difficult to gain sponsorship so with my one year holiday visa work restictions (an employer can only employ you for a maximum of 6 months) it means schools aren't interested and will employ graduates who can work in permanent positions. So the only option really is to work in private or religious schools and even they are very fussy and tend to have long and drawn out application processes. I would say to any British teachers looking to move out here, make sure you do plenty of research before you make the move. The education system in Australia in terms of the way it employs and treats overseas teachers is light years behind the British system and other than the weather there's not much else for a teacher to look forward to apart from a long series of headaches. Or you could get very lucky like Andrew.

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    26 October, 2011


  • I NEED ADVICE!! please

    I hold a permant residency visa but live and work in England. I am on my third term of my NQT year within PE Teaching, i want to move to Australia and teach one this contract ends at the end of this year.
    How do i go about enquiring for jobs, applying, i have heard that the jobs outer city such as Newcastle, Central Coast and Wollongong are my best options and to do supply asap to get my name recognised.

    Is there a way i can get the ball rolling now? Applying for jobs? Applying for teaching visas to work in the state? Do i need to do this as i hold a PR visa?

    Sorry for the bombard of questions but i am so unsure of what to do next and the internet seems so confusing and contradicting.

    Any advice you could give me would be gratefully appreciated.


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    25 January, 2012


  • How do you 'email the states'? I cant seem to find these email addresses?! Also what if you are unsure of the whereabouts of old certificates such as GCSE and A Level etc?

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    21 February, 2012


  • This sounds really interesting. Currently about to complete my 3rd year as a primary school teacher. Looking to move to oz with my partner. Have no idea how to go about it, any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    27 May, 2012


  • Listen everyone ......this is going to hurt !

    there is no shortage of teachers in Australia simple.

    Getting a job is hard .....PE impossible.

    Most jobs offered are now contract a year and then who knows.

    Primary/PE you have more chance winning the lottery unless you fancy a stint in the outback.

    Oh and it will take about 3 years for a visa, it is easy to do yourself but they take there time about and be prepared for running around to get certificates and transcripts for everything.....

    However if you are committed and keep going and ignore the setbacks, but it is tough.

    It is a great country to live work and the jobs is better than here, the pay is same as here now but the cost of living I would say is much higher see house prices in your chosen location if you are unsure..

    Good luck and I hope it does not put you off but really if you think you will walk into a job in your shorts blowing a whistle in the sun is not going to happen. Aussies love to be sports teachers and I have never ever met an English one!!!

    If you are thinking of going over on a 1 year visa or a under 30 traveling visa don't it will just wast your time stick to your job here, wait and come on a full visa.

    Sorry people i know its not what you want to hear but I hate these things .....moved got a job, sitting with a beer in the sun.

    It is tough but possible it is all on the web visit some expat sites to listen to the chatter......

    Good luck from an ex pom

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    18 September, 2012


  • Totally agree with the previous post. Moved here a year ago and still searching for the elusive job! Still on supply as they won't employ you unless permanent resident! Too many other teachers to choose from! Pay is better but cost of living much higher so no better off! Luckily my salary is second income so don't need a regular salary. Beautiful place to live but have a realistic approach when you come - there is definitely no teacher shortage in Australia and if they can employ an Australian, then they will!

    Sorry folks but agree with previous post writer..... It's better to have a realistic outlook as you've a much better chance of making it work if you do. Well done to the teacher in the original post but after speaking to lots of teachers this last year, that teacher is definitely in the minority!

    Good luck! :)

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    27 September, 2012


  • We emigrated 12yrs ago to Melbourne and it was definitely easier then. Property in Melbourne cost a third of what it does now and there appeared to be more jobs. There's a lot of young graduates coming out of uni who did Education because it seems more secure than other professions.

    All states have there own (if similar) systems and you have to apply separately as conditions contracts and salaries are different.

    We live in Melbourne Victoria - Jobs are advertised In the Victoria education website at:
    Also on Saturdays in "The Age" newspaper careers section:
    Salaries (for Victoria government schools) are at:
    you are classified as a Graduate for 2 yrs post uni; Accomplished for the next 5yrs; then Expert for the next 4+ yrs. Once you are top of Expert you don't go higher, unless you go for Leading Teacher LT (which are senior teachers) but $84K is a good salary compared to UK.

    Yes get a residents visa beforehand as it shows you are serious about staying and working. We did the application ourselves and it does take forever collecting the paperwork BUT its basically easy if very longwinded. Then we visited as tourists. Then when our residents visas came through, we emigrated. It took 2yrs. It's not the kind of step you should rush. Do your homework. Research schools. Put around some letters and CVs.

    Teaching here IS easier. Kids generally nicer, more frees, fewer covers, far more respect from general public, more opportunities to do INSET and improve your skills. It's treated as a profession.

    BUT as a previous poster said, there are a hell of a lot of 1or 2 yr contract jobs these days, rather than on-going jobs. You may have to take something initially less than ideal to get your foot in the door. My husband worked one year in a far flung school with a 90 min commute but it led to a job he now loves. I did a 0.4 one year contract boosted with supply and proved my worth, they then employed me 0.6 then eventually full time.
    Like anywhere there's no such thing as a quick fix.

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    24 October, 2012


  • Hi all,
    We are in Australia right now and I can assure you there is NO demand for teachers here - primary or secondary. There may have been a few years ago but jobs in general are really hard to come by. Teaching vacancies do not exist so think carefully first.

    John Carr

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    2 February, 2013


  • You're all so negative!
    I worked in WA on a temporary visa a year or so ago. I was inundated with relief work teaching secondary English- which was great pay by the way- and offered sponsorship from one of the schools I worked at, I can't believe the job situation has changed as much as you negative, whinging poms are making out! If you are a teacher you should be used to forms and paper work, it's not a new thing!
    I'm going back in 2014- I know I'll get a job- whereas here in the UK there REALLY is naff all work!

    Anybody reading this who wants to move to Aus- well paid teachers, more jobs, NO ACADEMIES! Go for it!


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    2 February, 2013


  • Wow....good to hear from both sides, but I can feel that getting a job in Aus is more difficult than you think.

    I'm moving to Melbourne, Australia in April 2013 to look for a teaching job. I have decided - got my working holiday visa and a flight ticket. I did some researches but I guess it maybe abit easier than finding a job in the UK.

    I've got a PGCE from the IOE but haven't completed my NQT year nor supply teaching here in the UK. My subject is music for Post Compulsory sector, but I feel I can teach at Secondary.

    I have following questions and will be greatly appreciated if you could answer them.

    1) Would it be too difficult to find a teaching job as I only have over 220 hours of teaching in my training year?

    2) As a music teaching, I have many years of private teaching experience. Will that count in teaching in schools?

    3) I have been told that I must register with the teaching body in order to teach. What is the procedure for that? What is your experience?

    Please feel free to advice me. Thanks in advance.

    Best wishes,


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    28 February, 2013


  • Hi folks,

    I hoe you can help. I qualified through the GTP programme, having no intention whatsoever of leaving the town where I grew up. Falling in love however changes perspectives. My girlfriend and I are now intent on moving to Australia as her family already live out there, and mine now live in France, so there is no real tie to my 'home'town.

    I know that the AITSL will categorically not accept the GTP as qualification to teach. I am an occasionally outstanding teacher at an outstanding school and love the job. Will I have to call it quits if I move to Australia as I will not be qualified?

    Are there any additional qualifications that I can do to achieve the requirements for teaching in Australia? As far as I can gather because I have already completed an ITT course and have achieved QTS I am not eligible to just go and do a PGCE.

    Any advice would be fantastic as I do not want to give up teaching.

    I hope someone can help!


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    18 March, 2013


  • Hello guys,

    j.coleman I am in exactly the same position as you!! I am a GTP teacher, getting my QTS in June. However true UK style my school has not offered me my second year to complete my NQT.

    I know Australia do not accept teachers on GTP courses, and by the sounds of previous posts, there isn't much demand for teachers.

    I don't necessarily have to teach, but I know if you have a specialism qualification emigration is a lot easier. I don't want to get a holiday/working visa and come 2 years it all be wasted and have to come back to this crap hole.

    I have recently split from a long term relationship and my sister/best friend has just moved to australia, so I have absolutely no ties here anymore.

    It has been my dream to settle in Oz since I was a little girl, or NZ but I have absolutely no idea how to go about it, if I need to give up my idea of teaching abroad, or just stick it out in England and finish my qualification - even though it won't make no difference for my emigrationg to Australia.....?

    Someone help me pleaseeee

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    4 April, 2013


  • Hi all

    Can I add to the long queue of help requests...

    I am currently half way through my NQT year and hoping to move to Oz (Melbourne) after Christmas for the new academic year. Ideally I would love to have a job lined up (wishful thinking) failing that I at least want to have all my paperwork sorted. Having trawled though the internet to compile a list of thing to do I've come up with the following

    Visa application
    Skills assessment
    teaching registration

    what am I missing? Do you think that I'm leaving myself enough time to get it sorted (9 months)

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    14 April, 2013


  • I am a primary school teacher and due to complete my NQT year at the end of the academic year and would love the opportunity to move to and teach in Australia however, I have no idea where to begin. Does anyone have any idea of where would be best to start my search?

    All advice would be greatly appreciated

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    4 May, 2013


  • I am an Aussie teaching in the UK.

    You would need some experience before you teach in OZ.
    NQT's not desirable...wait until you are finished.

    Maths and science teachers are in demand - city or country you should
    eventually find something.

    PE - very very slim chances, unless you are an ex Olympian or professional athlete. Art and drama teaches are in the same boat.

    Kids are kids wherever you go. But! There is no OFSTED and far less pressure on teachers. Lesson observations throughout the interview process are unheard of.

    Unless you live in the country/outback it's harder to survive on a teachers wage than it is in the UK.

    The grass is not greener, it's just greener.

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    20 June, 2014


  • I am a teacher from the US going through the paperwork for the skills assessment and skilled independent visa process. I'm in WA. I have had several job offers, but only once I have my working rights (I'm on an ETA business visa right now). Also, as soon as I have working rights, the local high school (country town) already wants me as a relief teacher. I teach years 6-12 English.

    The process has been daunting, trying to get everything together for the skills assessment, teaching license in WA and then the visa itself. However, I believe it will be well worth it once done. I love Australia and can't wait until I can be in the classroom again. :)

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    17 March, 2016

  • Hi Andrew,
    Im an English teacher at Pangbourne school, Oxfordshire, England, just married, and me and my wife are considering the move. How long ago did you move down there?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    4 May, 2016

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