In order to get any teaching position, you will need a qualification from a reputable learning institution. There are plenty of universities and colleges to choose from that offer certificates, diplomas and degrees in general teaching or specialised teaching fields. However, you’ll need more than a degree if you want to land a lucrative teaching position in Australia. You’ll also need some basic knowledge of the education system.

If you plan on moving to greener pastures, here’s what you need to know about teaching down under.

First and foremost, you will need a visa to migrate to Australia

If you’re coming from outside of Australia you need to find out which visas apply to your particular situation.

For example, there are skilled independent migrant visas and skilled sponsored migrant visas, as well regional sponsored provisional visas and skilled independent residence visas.

The visa requirements also vary by country of origin, so the rules are different for people from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Malta, for example.

Understanding the Australian school curriculum

If you obtained your teaching qualification outside of Australia, then you should know the Australian school curriculums vary for each state or territory. You will need to contact the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to obtain the updated version relevant to your state or territory. However, a national curriculum is currently being devised and should be incorporated by the end of 2014.

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The type of school will also determine the registration required. This can be confusing as each state and territory as different requirements.

For example, in order to teach at a Catholic school in New South Wales, you will need to register with the Catholic Education Office (CEO). No registration is required for independent schools. In Queensland, you are required to register with the Queensland College of Teachers when applying for positions in an independent school, and with the Queensland CEO if you wish to teach at Catholic primary school.

The Australian school terms (semesters)

The school terms are all based on a quarterly divide. The school year begins in January and the first term ends close to Easter. There is a two-week break before the start of second term, which continues through to late June. The third term runs from mid-July until late September, with another two-week break. The fourth term completes the school year which ends in a five-week break before the cycle begins again.

Teaching positions

There are many different teaching positions available in Australia, either on a long-term permanent basis, or short-term relief teaching. Across government, private and Catholic schools, the general class systems are the same.

Preschool to primary school, ending at school year 7, teaches children ages 4 to 12. Secondary schooling, or high school, is for children aged 13 to 17 years old.

Outside of these systematic classroom environs, there are opportunities for special needs teachers.

You can also look at working in early childhood development centres or go into sports coaching.

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Personal attributes required for teaching

Teaching requires strong personal attributes which are important for the job. These include:

  • Patience: Many people outside of the teaching environment are unaware of the constant attention children of all ages require. Without patience in a classroom environment, it is unlikely you will gain the respect required for a co-operative learning environment.
  • Enthusiasm: An interest in childhood development is required at all times. You will also be expected to maintain and uphold the school’s ethos.
  • Time management: There is a lot to fit into one school day, and children are not able to concentrate on a single task for hours at a time. In order to complete the year’s curriculum, you need to be able to effectively manage all the work that needs to be done, taking into consideration limited attention spans and disrupted learning.
  • Interpersonal skills: Apart from dealing with children all day, you will be required to communicate effectively with teachers and other people involved in running the school, as well as discuss a child’s development and possible problem areas with parents.

There is a huge shortage of teachers in Australia. If you are passionate about teaching and feel you are more than up to the challenges in this line of work, then Australia is rich in opportunities for you.

About the Author: Tracey Walker is a mother of two sons aged 12 and 17 years old, and has been involved with schools and relief teaching for over ten years.