Last month, when COVID-19 started to spread in Australia, the country was immediately brought under lockdown. Most of the businesses were asked to shut down, and the workers were made to stay at home.
But, over 20,000 international nursing students (not nurses) were given special permission to work more than 40 hours a week, which is the maximum permissible work hours for international students in Australia. This situation is only a glimpse of the demand Australia has for the services of nursing professionals.
Nursing is one of the professions that provide a high level of job satisfaction for service-minded people. Especially in a developed country like Australia, a nursing career is more enriching than anywhere else, due to the country’s high quality of living, better work conditions, safety and better remuneration.
Australia’s Department of Health's research reports, projects the demand for nurses to be 85,000 by 2023 and more than 123,000 by 2030. This growing demand is one of the reasons why the country remains a top choice for international students to study nursing. Here is an overview of nursing education and career options for international students in Australia.
Top reasons to study nursing in Australia
High remuneration for nurses
Australia is one of the top 5 countries in the world, that offer a high salary package to nurses. A registered nurse earns an average of $55000 to $72000 based on their specialization and experience. The Healthcare industry is consistently growing in Australia, and every year there are nearly 30,000 new nursing job openings. The earnings of nursing professionals are in the top 20% high earnings of all Australian workers across all industries.
A nursing degree from Australia makes your career very flexible and allows you to move to any part of the world to work. Along with the salary package, excellent health coverage, options to bring family members to Australia, high-quality education for children are other reasons why Australia is indisputably one of the best places to study nursing.
Nursing - a pathway to PR in Australia
Nursing specializations feature consistently in the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), and as well as in the Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) of Australia. There are multiple PR pathway options available for nurses depending mainly on their specialization, degree and work experience.
Once you graduate, under General Skilled Migration, international nursing students can apply for Skilled Independent Subclass Visa 189 without requiring a state or an employer sponsorship. Candidates should pass skills assessment and possess a minimum of 65 points to receive an invitation through SkillSelect. Here, studying in a regional institution offers five extra PR points.
There are other options like Employer sponsorship which could get you four years of temporary visa if the employer is an approved sponsor and offers a minimum salary of $53,900 a year. Skilled Regional Subclass 489 Visa is an option for nurses who have relatives in the designated regional areas that can sponsor. This family sponsorship adds ten extra PR points.
The PR pathway is relatively easier for nurses in Australia compared to many other professions. One has to choose the right path to acquire PR quickly. Living in Australia as a permanent resident for 4-6 years could lead to citizenship for nurses.
Steps to follow after completing your studies :
- Clear one of the accepted English language tests. (a minimum score of 7 in each of the 4 test components of IELTS or 65 in each of the 4 test components of PTE or with B in each of the 4 test components of OET.
- Apply for registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
- If your Bachelors degree is from overseas, you are required to do the bridging program approved by AHPRA in Australia and apply for the full registration
- Apply for Skills assessment, with ANMAC (the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council)
- Lodge an EOI (Expression of Interest) (minimum entry points of Skill Select is 65)
- Be invited to apply for PR (Permanent Residency- Subclass 189) and apply for the visa
Other pathway options available to Nursing Graduates:
- Skilled Nominated Visa- Subclass 190
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa- Subclass 491
- Temporary Skill Shortage visa- Subclass 482
- Employer Nomination Scheme Visa-Subclass 186 (for candidates with 3 years work experience)
Benefits of studying in Australia regional areas:
The Government is encouraging skilled workers to move to regional areas to fill the skill shortage gap. It is advantageous to study in a regional area, for a couple of reasons.
- On the points-based system, you would benefit from an additional 5 points awarded for studying in a regional area.
- Regional visas have priority processing.
- If you obtain a job in a specified DAMA regional area, you would be exempted from the minimum salary required ($53,900) on the new 494 and 491 visas
- From 2021, international students studying in all locations outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be offered an extension on the current two-year Post-study work stream of the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa (TGV), which applies to Bachelor and Masters by coursework graduates.
Nursing courses in Australia
Diploma in Nursing
Diploma in Nursing is a basic course in nursing that aims to impart essential knowledge to work as an enrolled nurse under a registered nurse. Post the completion of the course, which usually takes 18-24 months, you will be able to apply to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (AHRP). This course is a foundational program to study Bachelors in Nursing.
Eligibility: Year 12 completion or an overseas equivalent and IELTS score of 7 with no band less than 7.
Bachelors in Nursing
A bachelor degree in nursing prepares you to become a competent healthcare professional who demonstrates high-level professional knowledge, decision-making skills, communication skills at work. Bachelor's degree is the minimum qualification required to be a registered nurse in Australia. It is a 3-year course, and the course fee varies between $25000 - $35000 depending on the university.
Eligibility: Year 12 completion or an overseas equivalent and IELTS score of 7 with no band less than 6.5.
Masters in Nursing
A postgraduate degree is the entry point for students who aspire to play leadership roles in their nursing career. Masters degree in nursing enables you to work in a wide range of specializations. With the higher level of knowledge acquired, you can play senior roles in research and clinical environments. It is a 2-year full-time degree .
Eligibility: A bachelor's degree in nursing and an IELTS score of 7 with no band less than 7.0.
Initial Registration of Overseas Nurses is a bridging course for international nurses to join the nursing workforce in Australia. Nurses from select countries are allowed to register directly while the rest should go through this program to understand the local regulations, practices and practical skills needed to work in Australia.
To apply for this program, one must secure the letter of eligibility from the AHPRA by providing evidence to meet their requirements in terms of knowledge and English proficiency. It is a 13-week program.
Career opportunities for nurses in Australia
Nursing education in Australia opens many gates. Unlike early days when the nursing job was limited to only hospitals, today the career options are very diverse. Clinical nurse, medical researcher, orthopaedic nurse, paediatric nurse, neonatal nurse, mental health nurse, emergency nurse, certified midwife, anesthesia nurse are some of the top career choices of nursing graduates in Australia.
A degree from a right institution, compassion towards patients, commitment towards the job, communication skills and professional ethics are some of the traits of nurses who enjoy faster career growth. If you are interested in pursuing your career as a nurse in Australia, be clear of your long term goals. Ask yourselves some questions: Which degree to start with, what specialization to choose, what am I passionate about, do I want to live permanently in Australia or not, if I want to live here, what is my quickest path to acquire PR etc. Once you have answers to these questions, making the right choices is not tricky.
AECC Global helps international students to find the right course in the right university to suit their career aspirations. If you are an international student looking to study nursing, get free guidance from our consultants on courses, universities, visa regulation etc.
Having an expert at your side will make the whole process of identifying and applying for an institution easily. Study nursing to serve and live in Australia.