Working in Canberra

Here is some useful information about working while you study and the SkilledFutures initiative, which aims to help international students find employment in Canberra.

Statistics about Employment Opportunities in Canberra

  • The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has the lowest trend unemployment rate in Australia at 3.8% compared to the national trend unemployment rate of 5.3%.*
  • The Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Skills and Workforce Development 2010 report shows that the ACT proportion of Vocational Education and Training (VET) graduates employed after training was 88.7%, higher than the national average of 76.3%.

*Findings from December 2011, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) www.abs.gov.au

Working While You Study

You cannot work until you have commenced your course in Australia. Once your course has commenced you are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per  fortnight when your course is in session, and unlimited hours when your course is not in session.

If you’re bringing your family with you, your dependants can also work up to 40 hours per fortnight once you have started your course in Australia. If you or your dependents work in excess of these restrictions, your visas may be subject to cancellation.

If you have been granted a student visa before 26 April 2008 you and your family member may only apply for permission to work once you have commenced your studies in your program.  Please see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for information on how to apply for permission to work.

Visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website for more information: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Stud/More/Work-conditions-for-Student-visa-holders

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman is an Australian Government body that helps employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities under Australian workplace laws. They also work to resolve workplace issues which may arise.Their website will provide you with plenty of information regarding your rights and obligations as an employee in Australia.

Types of Work for International Students

International students often find work in retail, hospitality and administration. You could expect to earn $6 - 15 (AUD) an hour, depending on the kind of work you do and your age. You may be paid more for working on Sundays or public holidays.

Tutoring younger students in the field you are studying, or in your native language is also a good way to earn money. See Counselling and Equity for information on CIT's Peer Tutor Program.

Tax File Numbers

You should obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Tax Office if you are going to work in Australia. You may also need a TFN to open a bank account. In addition to supplying your name, current address and date of birth, you may also need to supply your date of arrival in Australia, your passport and proof of enrolment.

You do not have to obtain a TFN, however not having one means you could:

  • pay more tax than necessary
  • not be able to get Government benefits that you are entitled to receive, or
  • cause delays in the processing of your documents by the Tax Office.

Your TFN is valuable. Don’t share it with friends and don’t provide it on the internet when applying for work. Keep it secure.


Student visa information on this website is an outline only and subject to change. For more detailed, accurate and up-to-date information on student visas and visa requirements please visit: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Stud/More