What qualifications are needed to work in Australia?

The most important qualification for working in Australia is the ability to speak English fluently.

If you have a degree or a certificate from a recognised educational establishment in an English-speaking country, language usually presents no problems. However, applicants from non-English speaking countries or backgrounds must usually pass an English test and possibly also an occupational English examination, where the pass mark depends on your profession or trade. The failure rate is high.

Once you've overcome this hurdle, you should establish whether your trade or professional qualifications and experience are recognised in Australia. While you may be well qualified in your own country, you may need to pass professional examinations or trade tests to satisfy Australian standards (overseas trained doctors went on hunger-strike a couple of years ago claiming that they were denied the right to practise by discriminatory qualification tests). If you aren’t experienced, Australian employers expect your studies to be in a relevant discipline and to have included work experience.

The recognition of professional qualifications is usually the responsibility of the relevant professional body, which migrants are normally required to join to practise in Australia. However, a favourable assessment isn’t a guarantee that you will be professionally recognised or able to gain employment in your field of expertise, as some professional bodies require overseas practitioners to pass examinations conducted or supervised by themselves. In some cases, it’s necessary for foreign professionals to work under the supervision of a registered professional Australian for a period, e.g. a year, or to undertake further training.

Medical practitioners must have studied medicine in Australia or New Zealand to work in some states, and until very recently foreign doctors couldn't work for Medicare (the state healthcare scheme). This was reviewed in 2004 – as a result of a shortage of medical staff in parts of Australia – and the Health Minister is looking to recruit doctors trained in developed countries, particularly Canada, the UK and the US.

The Australian government no longer lists the skills and qualifications necessary for occupations. However, you can check the qualifications required for a particular job in the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) dictionary, available for reference at Australian High Commission offices and other Australian government offices overseas and at offices of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in Australia or on the website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (www.abs.gov.au ). Additional information can be obtained from the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR), PO Box 1407, Canberra City, ACT 2601 (freecall 1800-020 086, NOOSR ).

Whatever kind of job you’re looking for in Australia, whether temporary or permanent, part- or full-time, always take proof of your qualifications, training and experience with you, plus copies of references and an up-to-date curriculum vitae.

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