Are you a teacher who is looking for an adventure in one of the most beautiful and spectacular travel destinations in the world? Don't have the financial means to go on vacation to the fascinatingly exotic corners of the planet? Teaching in Australia can be the ultimate solution for the adventurous spirit inside of you! Combine work and play to get the ultimate experience of a lifetime: teach and get paid while living abroad in Australia.
It is common for teachers from the United States and other countries to go to Australia on a one year teaching exchange. Some exchange programs are offered through colleges, universities, private gap year or study abroad companies, while others are state or government- run programs. Once in Australia, foreign teachers can teach at either public or private schools depending on the program you chose, your preference, and the availability of teaching jobs.
Government-sponsored programs (in the U.S.)
The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program is run through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This program offers a one-to-one exchange of teachers from primary and secondary schools between the United States and countries abroad. Participants must hold (at minimum) a Bachelor's degree and be a current full-time teacher. More information on the program can be found on their website.
Universities and Private Language Academies
Some teaching exchange programs are offered through universities or private companies. The Colorado International Teachers' Exchange League offers the opportunity to exchange with a teacher or educator in Australia, New Zealand, or Canada. This program is available to full-time employed elementary and secondary teachers, school executives, and specialist educators (librarians, school counselors, etc.) with at least 5 years of experience.
Another way to find a teaching job in Australia is by going directly to the source. Australian education requirements differ by state so check out each state's education website for job postings. This is also a great way to search for jobs if you want to be more selective where in the country you want to teach. See "When and Where to Look for Jobs" (the section below) for links to each state's education website!
For teachers who may prefer to work at private schools, Australia has hundreds of private schools both religiously affiliated and non-denominational. For information and job listings on private schools in Australia, check out this website.
Where and When to Look for Jobs:
Typically the best time to look for jobs in Australia is in September or October. Australian schools begin in January so be sure to begin looking a few months before the school year is scheduled to start. The best place to look for public school teaching jobs in Australia is on each individual state's education website. Australia is a big country, so you might want to choose a location first!
There are 6 states and 2 territories in Australia. Links to each state's education website can be found at:
- New South Whales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
- Australian Capital Territory
Most jobs in Australia will require that you have some teaching experience before hiring you. Depending on where and what you want to teach, you may also need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) certification. English is the official language in Australia but like in the United States, some schools may have ESL (English as a Second Language) students, so check with the school or program you wish to teach with for more specific qualifications. Courses and more information about TEFL/TESOL certifications can be found at TEFL Online.
Salary & Cost of Living:
The yearly salary for a first year teacher is around $57,500 USD. This comes out to about $4,700 a month. Principals, deputy principals, and heads of faculties can get up to $150,000. Utilities and food will be about the same in Australia as they are in the United States. Your biggest cost will be airfare and traveling while you are abroad, so remember to factor that into your budget. Airfare to Australia can cost you over $2000 per person!
When looking at apartments, prices are often listed per week so make sure to double check this before assuming that you are getting a good deal on housing. Also, note that many apartments may ask that you pay in advance (usually about 2 weeks before moving in).
Teachers may find the following websites useful when looking for housing in Australia:
Classroom & Work Culture:
Nearly all students in Australia have to wear school uniforms regardless of whether they are in public or private school. Also, it is not uncommon for high school students to call the teacher by his/her first name, but ultimately the teacher can decide what he or she would like to be called. The hours students spend in school are typically the same in the U.S. and Australia: around 8:45am until 3:00pm.
- Student-teacher relations: Students are expected to respect their teachers in Australia just as they would be in America. Ultimately, the teacher is the authority in the classroom and students should respect that you are their teacher, not their friend.
- Dress code: Typically, anything you would wear to teach in the U.S. is also acceptable to wear in Australia. Women should refrain from wearing skirts of dresses that go above the top of the knee. Men should wear nice slacks with button-down shirt or polo. Be sure to check with the school where you intend to work for specific dress code requirements.
- Greetings: There are no specific greetings for when you meet the students. It is typically polite to greet school administrators with a handshake when meeting them for the first time.
More Helpful Links:
- Australia Department of Education website
- Helpful Tips before Traveling Abroad
- Australian Government Visa and Immigration Information
Relocating to a different country can be scary and stressful but in the end, it will likely be an immensely rewarding experience. Some teachers enjoy their experience so much that they end up moving to Australia! Teaching in Australia, you may find that you will quickly fall in love with the land of beaches, kangaroos, and koala bears.