Working in Australia – Healthcare

Many expats are drawn to Australia by the hope that they will be able to enjoy the more agreeable climate with their families whilst earning a decent living. Being able to strike a healthy work/life balance, a down-to-earth working environment and efficiency and fairness in the workplace have all been cited as Australian attractions for expats. However, before jumping on the plane it’s important to be realistic in your assessment of how your skills fit within the job market down under. You’re far more likely to be issued with a work visa if you possess sought after skills, but possessing a work visa doesn’t guarantee employment!

Although Australia has a history of embracing migrant workers, expats may find searching for a job in the current climate a challenge. However, if you plan on emigrating to Australia don’t be deterred by the nation’s current 5.2 per cent unemployment level. A skills shortage report compiled by the Australian Resource Institute (AHRI) found that over half of Australian employers are still experiencing a skills shortage whilst more than three quarters believe the success of their organisations relies on skilled migration.

The latest research indicates that nurses and doctors from overseas are most in demand, with permanent and temporary work available. This is particularly the case in rural areas.

Below is a brief introduction as to what working as a nurse or doctor in Australia entails.


In order to gain employment in this profession as an expat you must be a qualified nurse, nurse practitioner, mental health nurse or midwife. Initial nurse training must also have been completed (an undergraduate diploma/degree equivalent to that offered by Australian universities).

A nurse must also prove that they are in good personal health. To work in a medical institution nurses must pass a health examination which includes a chest X-ray. Nurses must also be registered or enrolled by the nurse regulatory body in the State or Territory they are hoping to find work.

Most visa applications for nurses are processed as a priority. Applications for General skilled migration must be supported by a skills assessment from the Australian Nursery and Midwifery Council (ANMC).
Registered nurses can earn an average wage of £28,000. The average wage increases as the length of employment progresses. Nurses working in Australia for eight years can earn roughly £40, 000.


The government of each state is responsible for fixing doctors’ salaries so the average wage may vary slightly across the country. According to International Medical Recruitment (IMR) the basic salary for a resident can be from between £40,000 and £50,000 whist a GP can expect to earn up to £230, 000! These are approximate figures, but basic salary in Australia assumes a working week of only 38 hours. Any hours worked over this will count as overtime and will be paid at penalty rates – usually double pay.

Doctors working in Australia can also receive up to 5 weeks paid leave and up to 10 paid sick days a year.
The dress code for Doctors is more casual in Australia than Britain, as a rule white coats are not really worn, and jeans are often acceptable.

Specialists and general practitioners can apply for an Australian work visa if their main medical qualification was obtained in a country other than Australia OR if they are not an Australian permanent resident but acquired their medical qualifications in Australia.


Salary Packaging is a benefit available to all public hospital employees in Australia. It is a tax minimisation strategy which allows the employee to access as much as 30% of their income as tax free. This system can substantially increase a take home salary and is used by the majority of hospital employees.
Many Australian hospitals provide subsidised meals and free or reduced rate accommodation.

Although some Australian States might be experiencing more of a shortage of healthcare professionals than others, find work in the state you want to live in, don’t just live in a state that has work!

The Expat Hub
This post was written by
If you’ve already moved abroad, if you’re in the process of moving abroad or if you’re only thinking about it, the Expat Hub is here for you. For expatriates looking for advice, support and information, we’re the number one online stop.