Inspiration to Employment: Working Holiday in Australia

Ready to start your working holiday in Australia? This nomad shares her top tips and the reality of the job hunt process.


Photo © Getty Images/Benoit Balanca

After a six-week adventure in Tasmania, I could have returned home to the US to work and pay off my credit card debt, or I could stay in Australia on a working holiday. The latter seemed far more appealing. 

Working Holiday Visas

When I researched working holiday visas for Americans in Australia, I found I would be eligible to stay for 12 months. There are a few options, depending on where you're from. If you visit the Australian Government’s website you can find out which working holiday visa is best for you you.

As an American, I applied for visa subclass 462. I answered a few questions, paid the fee, and received my visa via email less than one week later. Simple.

If you're a national of the Commonwealth, after 12 months you are eligible for a second year visa if you fruit pick or do some kind of rural farm work. You must be employed for at least three months and complete the work before your first visa expires. Tasmania is a great place to do your three months of rural farm work, as almost the entire state is considered rural. After you log your hours, you can begin the application process for the second-year visa.

The Reality of the Job Hunting Process

I decided to apply for a job in marketing or public relations, since that's what my degree is in. I applied for more than 40 jobs, but was only granted one interview. I posted my resume on several job listing sites, but heard back from only a handful. At one interview, I was told I was qualified for the position, but they were looking for someone permanent and would not go through the legalities to sponsor me. Foreign sponsorship is a very lengthy process for employers, and most aren't willing to jump through the hoops.

Unless you have a specialized skill, such as nursing or construction, it's almost impossible to find a career as a foreigner. You will find most, if not all, countries want to hire their nationals to stimulate their economy – with good reason.

If you're flexible about where you work, for how much and how often, it's pretty easy to find a hospitality job (whether or not you have much experience). You can work at restaurants, bars, hotels, or work through companies such as Octopus Hospitality and Events that staff major festivals or events. The pay in Australia is quite good because tipping is not expected.

I got a job as a bartender in a Melbourne hotel, and made AU $20/hour. I worked six days a week and was able to pay off a big chunk of my credit card debt. After four months, I decided to find something new and exciting to do.

Working in Aussie Snow

I found out about a few different ski resorts in Australia's high country, where they hire a lot of young people during winter. Mount Buller, Falls and Mount Hotham are just a few of the major ski resorts that hire instructors, bartenders, servers, front-desk staff, lift operators and housekeepers, offering cheap accommodation for employees.

I worked at Mt. Buller as a bartender and made AU $21/hour, and also had AU $100 of rent taken out of my paycheck each week. Staff accommodation consisted of two bunk beds per room, and about 10 rooms per floor. If you work directly for the resort, you will usually get a free lift pass to use for the season. 

Thredbo river during winter. Photo credit: Getty Images/zetter

The experience was a load of fun, and I met tons of great people. If you're an avid snowboarder or skier, or would love to learn, I highly recommend investigating work at a ski resort during winter.

For all kinds of information on jobs overseas, visas and more, visit Any Work Anywhere.

Tips to Help You Find Work in Australia

1. Applying for a Tax File Number

Upon entering the country you will need to apply for a tax file number - you'll need one to be pay tax. Once you get a job, your employer will have you fill out paperwork that includes personal information to get you paid. If you're living in Australia for fix months or more, I'd recommend ticking the box that states you are a "resident for tax purposes". Approximately 29% of your pay will be taxed, but you will get almost all of this back when it comes to tax time at the end of the financial year. You can easily file your taxes online with E-tax.

2. Choosing a Superannuation Fund

Upon accepting work, you will also be asked to choose a superannuation fund or "retirement fund". Most employers have a company they already use, so don't stress out about finding one yourself. If you work in hospitality or tourism you're likely to have HostPlus. Your employer must match 9.5% of your earnings to deposit into your super fund.

3. Leaving Outside of the Tax Period

If you're leaving the country outside of the tax period, you are eligible to file early. You can pick up a tax pack at your local tax office or news agency. Find out more information on filing your taxes early here if you're permanently leaving Australia.

4. Receiving Superannuation Upon Permanently Leaving

You are also eligible to receive your superannuation upon permanently leaving. You will get taxed about 40%, but I like to think of it as extra savings. Find out how.

About the Author

After winning World Nomads' Van-tastic Adventures competition, Dara packed her bags and started her epic adventure around the world. She worked in and around Melbourne until traveling to Thailand to become TEFL certified to be an ESL teacher.

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