Teaching in Australia: Everything you need to know

Tes Editorial

On a typical grey and rainy British day, the lure of the sun-soaked shores of Australia can be a very attractive prospect.

The teaching profession is full of Brits who have made the move down under. In 2015, a report by the Australian Council for Educational Research's Staff in Australian Schools (SiAS) found that 5 per cent of primary school teachers and 6 percent of secondary school teachers are British-born.

If you're thinking about heading to Australia, here is everything you need to know.


Qualifications and visa requirements to teach in Australia

Each state and territory in Australia governs its own education system, so you need to check the specific requirements of the state/territory where you want to work. Generally, you will need a university or college teaching qualification (BEd or PGCE) and an Australian education visa or working visa. You will also need to have your teaching skills assessed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

The Australian Visa Bureau will help you to work out if you’re qualified for a teaching job in Australia and the Migration Bureau lets you take a free assessment to see which visa category you’re eligible under. The good news is teaching is on the Skilled Occupation list and this should allow you to apply for a skilled migration visa.

You may also have to undergo a criminal record check and an assessment of your English language skills.

To learn more on the registration process for a teacher, see our teacher accreditation story.

Teaching in Australia pay and conditions

Again, the rates of pay vary across the Australian states/territories. A new teacher can earn between $65,608 and $69,000 (around £40,000 and £42,000) depending on which state you teach in. For example, for the school year starting 1 January 2017, a new teacher in New South Wales will have a starting pay of $65,608, while their counterparts in Northern Territory start on $69,801.

For more information on potential salaries, see our teacher salary story.

The curriculum

Australia is working to a national curriculum that is in its early stages. It is being piloted by various schools and is being developed progressively. The organisation in charge of this is the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

According to ACARA, the aim of this work is to produce a final curriculum in English, history, mathematics, and science that equips all young Australians with the essential skills, knowledge and capabilities to thrive and compete in the globalised world.

For more on ACARA, see our guide.

How the education system works

Make sure you understand the education system in Australia before you apply for any jobs. Around two-thirds of children attend government schools, while 20 per cent are in Catholic education and 14 per cent in independent schools.

Schooling begins with the preparatory year, followed by 12 years of primary and secondary school. In the final year of secondary school, students can study for a government-endorsed certificate that is recognised for further study by all Australian universities, vocation education and training institutions.

The academic year is divided into four terms running from late January until December. School hours are generally from 9am to 3.30pm each day.

Term 1 – late January to Easter (two weeks' holiday)

Term 2 – Easter to late June (two weeks' holiday)

Term 3 – early July to late September (two weeks' holiday)

Term 4 – early October to late December (five weeks' holiday)

Job application and interview advice

Make sure that your application does the following:

  • Clearly outlines your qualifications including name of awarding institution, title of qualification and year awarded.
  • Explains your teaching experience including dates, name of school, subject and year levels taught and name of referee.
  • Gives details of any extra-curricular responsibilities or interests.


Interviews will probably be held via Skype, and you should be prepared to answer questions on the following:

  • Why are you emigrating to Australia?
  • Have you lived overseas before?
  • Have you been to Australia before?
  • What job/career aspirations do you have in Australia?
  • These questions are being asked so the employer can be sure that you’re properly prepared for the move to Australia and to assess how you might settle into a new country.

Tips for teachers looking for a job in Australia

  • The best time to apply for jobs is from early September for the start of the next teaching year.
  • Email different Australian states to see what teaching jobs are available.
  • Find out general living information by visiting the government website Australian life.
  • Take time to decide where you will live; Victoria, for example, is a huge state, so explore different regions.
  • If you can’t find a job in the area you want to live in you could consider working as a casual teacher (aka a supply teacher).
  • Teaching positions in Australia are available across metropolitan, rural and coastal areas, but teachers are particularly in demand in remote locations.
  • Don’t forget to apply for jobs in private schools, contact the school directly or keep an eye on the Tes website.

To learn more about life in Australia, read about how one teacher swapped inner-city London for Sydney Harbour.

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