Teaching English abroad is always an adventure. When I arrived in Australia in 2016 on a Work Holiday visa, I planned to work in a store to save up enough money to travel with. I had just quit my job teaching at an American school in Spain and had no plans to teach. 

Nearly four years later, I’m still in Australia and have taught in two different English language schools for almost 4 years. Here’s how you can teach English in Australia on a Work Holiday visa.

What is a Work Holiday visa?

To start, the Australian Work Holiday visa is for young people between the ages of 18-30 (or up to 35 for French, Canadian or Irish citizens) from a selected list of countries. 

You can stay for a total of 12 months and it currently costs $485 AUD. You can sometimes renew the visa for a second or even third time.

Depending on your passport, you can apply for a subclass 417 Working Holiday visa or a subclass 462 Working Holiday visa.

Subclass 417: You must have a passport from one of these countries:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport)
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Subclass 462: You must have a passport from one of these countries:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Chile
  • China, People’s Republic of
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uruguay
  • United States of America
  • Vietnam

What do I need to teach in Australia on a Work Holiday visa?

Firstly, if you want to teach at an English language school, you will need a degree of at least 3 years full-time and a TESOL certification. Despite holding a US teaching certificate and Master’s degree, I ended up doing a CELTA course at the same time as my first teaching job in Australia.

For those who are seriously thinking about teaching in Australia, I would recommend getting your TESOL certification before arriving. 

If you already have a teaching certificate or higher education degree, it is to your advantage because you will be paid on a step system. Having these qualifications means that your starting salary will automatically be higher. 

Unfortunately, any previous teaching experience in any country that isn’t Australia only counts for half. This information is also taken into consideration when determining your pay step.

How do I apply for teaching jobs?

When I arrived in 2016, the education industry was booming. I applied to a few different schools simply by emailing them. At that time it was also possible to walk into a school with your CV and walk out with a teaching position. 

However, there is a lot of turnover in this industry, so teachers are constantly coming and going. 

In 2020, thanks to the Australian bushfires and Covid-19, Australia currently has its borders shut to international students. However, the international education industry in Australia is an important one and I believe that special exceptions are going to be made for these students soon. By the time Work Holiday visas open back up, I predict that student visas will also be available.

Another popular way to find teaching jobs is Seek.com.au.

What is teaching English in Australia on a Work Holiday visa like?

Depending on the language school, you can find opportunities to teach general English, Business English and exam preparation courses for IELTS, PTE, and Cambridge. You usually need to be a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades because of rolling enrollment.

New groups of students arrive each week, so one week you may find yourself teaching pre-Intermediate while the next you jump to advanced. Flexibility and adaptability are really important skills to have.

To give you an idea, during my time as a teacher in Australia, I’ve taught all levels from beginner to upper-intermediate, as well as Cambridge FCE, CAE, private lessons, and Business English.

Again, depending on the language school, there may be morning, afternoon, and/or evening classes. This is great because it allows you plenty of time to enjoy your Work Holiday visa and explore Australia.

In my experience, students are usually 18-60 years old, with most students in the 20-30 range. There are opportunities to teach children as well if you prefer.

Final thoughts

If you have previous experience as a teacher and are looking for a change, I would recommend giving Australia a go. It’s possible to teach while on a Work Holiday visa, so take a year off and teach students from all over the world while exploring the “land down under.”

Before you sign any contracts, take a look at this post which talks about the things people DON’T tell you about teaching abroad.


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How to Teach English in Australia

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