Working while you study

One of the advantages of being an international student in Australia is that you can receive permission to work part time (up to 40 hours per fortnight) while you study.

Permission to work

Your student visa automatically gives you permission to work. Your visa information is held electronically by the Australian Department of Immigration (DIAC) and can be accessed at any time using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system. Employers, banks and Government services can also check details about your visa entitlements on VEVO once they have your consent to do so.

Finding work

There are a number of ways to find work in Australia. You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and on websites.

It is also a good idea to contact your institution’s careers office or student centre. They might have information on local businesses that are known to hire international students. Local businesses might also place advertisements on school noticeboards and in their stores. Keep a look out for these position vacant notices.

Another way to find a job is through word-of-mouth – that is, through your friends. It’s a good idea to let your friends know that you are looking for a job. They might know of a friend’s business that’s looking for another staff member. At the very least, they’ll be able to let you know if they see a job advertised that you might like.

Types of work for international students

International students often find work in retail, hospitality and administration. The wage you receive will depend on the kind of work you do and your age. Tutoring younger students in the field you are studying or in your native language may also be a good way to earn money. You may be paid more for working on Sundays and public holidays. Remember that your first priority in Australia should be your studies. If you decide to take on the challenge of part-time work, start with a few hours until you are able to find a balance with your studies.

Applying for a Job

Once you find an advertisement for a job you want to apply for, you’ll probably have to submit a resume, also known as a Curriculum Vitae or CV. Your resume’s job is to sell your skills to the employer. It should outline your work history, skills and experience, and detail your performance in these jobs.

While it might take you a few hours to prepare a resume, the truth is that employers may only spend a few minutes scanning it before deciding whether to read more or move on to the next resume. For this reason, you have to make a resume stand out.

  • Organize your resume in a logical order. Put your personal details and contact information first, followed by your work history, education and skills. If you speak a language in addition to English, provide these details;

  • Use headings for each section so that the employer can quickly locate the information they need; and

  • Provide just enough detail to assure the employer that you have the skills they need. You can go into greater detail if you get an interview.

Make sure you submit your resume by the advertised deadline.

What not to include in a resume

You might find that the acceptable style of resume in Australia is different to what you are used to at home. Some of the things to be aware of include:

  • Don't include your height, weight, marital status or religion;
  • You do not have to include your age or birth date, although many people still do;
  • You do not need to include a photo of yourself;
  • Don't discuss how much you would like to be paid, or any other benefits you would like to receive;
  • Don't make any false statements about your previous jobs or skills.


You are entitled to receive at least the basic rate of pay (minimum wage) that applies to your age and job classification. Some employers will pay you at a rate above the basic rate. The minimum wages received by employees under Australia’s national workplace relations system are reviewed by Fair Work Australia every year. Employers and employees are not allowed to agree on a rate of pay which is less than the current minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage (as at 1 July 2011) is $15.51 per hour before tax.

You should also note the following:

  • Your employer must pay you the correct rate of pay for all the hours you attend work;
  • They must pay you on a regular basis – casual and part-time workers are often paid either weekly or every two weeks for work they have already undertaken. That is, you are paid in arrears, not in advance;
  • Your pay slip must include your employer’s information (including their Australian Business Number, or ABN), the number of hours you are being paid for, the amount you have paid in income tax, your superannuation payment and, of course, how much you have been paid;
  • You shouldn't have money taken out of your pay to cover things like a customer leaving without paying;
  • You should be paid for 'trial work';
  • If you work on a public holiday, you may be entitled to be paid more for that day. You might also get a higher rate of pay if you work on the weekends.