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Exploring the rewards and opportunities of teaching in Australia 


Key Points
  • Advancement opportunities in Australia’s education sectors make teaching a viable long-term career option. 
  • There are multiple pathways if you consider becoming a teacher in Australia.
  • For skilled migrants, the path to becoming a teacher in Australia varies depending on their country of origin and the state where they want to work. 
Teachers can inspire, empower, and positively impact their students’ lives, helping to shape the future of individuals, communities, and society.  
Australia’s growing emphasis on education as the key to achieving a better and fairer society offers aspiring educators and career changers a vibrant landscape.   
Zena Dabaja is the Relieving Director of Educational Leadership for the Chullora Network and the substantive principal of a girls’ high school in Sydney.  
She has been a qualified English and history teacher for the NSW Department of Education since 1995.  
Ms Dabaja shares how she became inspired to take up a career in teaching
“I had some fantastic teachers when I was a young student growing up who really ignited my passion for learning. They really made a difference to me and my life. But the other thing that really inspired me to become a teacher was about the opportunities that in teaching you can provide to students,” she says.
He is a committed teacher based in Melbourne. For over 14 years, he taught physical education (PE) in Victorian schools and English as a second language in Hong Kong.  
Mr Ng believes that the benefits of being a teacher are significant, and the rewards are the driving force behind his motivation to keep giving more. 

“I witness firsthand the transformative power of education in shaping an individual’s life. Being a PE teacher, I can help them maintain not only physical health but also their mental health,” Mr Ng adds.

Soccer Team Meeting

Advancement opportunities in Australia’s public and private education sectors make teaching a viable long-term career option. Credit: SolStock/Getty Images

Ms Dabaja shares a memorable experience that underpins how she approaches her career in teaching.  

When she first started teaching, she coached a debating team of students from different backgrounds, including one student with a hearing impairment who stood out to her.  
“That student was an incredible advocate for public education and the potential and capacity that all students have because his disability didn’t prevent him from fully participating,” Ms Dabaja says.

She adds that her team succeeded wildly in their debating competition. Whenever this student represented their school, he defied stereotypes. He challenged people’s perceptions of what others can or cannot achieve.

Teaching contributions to society

Ms Dabaja highlights a teacher’s role in building students’ skills and knowledge, engaging and inspiring them about their future possibilities. 
“I often say that when you look out into the playground, there’s so much capacity and potential. You could have the next Beethoven in the playground, or the cure for cancer might be sitting in the playground,” Ms Dabaja says.
Professor Therese Keane, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Education at Latrobe University, has spent over 25 years empowering girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. She says teaching builds the foundation of society. 
“Schools are an amazing place for students to learn in a controlled environment. If they get in trouble, it’s within that controlled environment so that they can understand what they’ve done wrong, and they can learn from their mistake,” Ms Keane says.

Mr Ng adds that teachers contribute to a child’s holistic growth and development from preschool through to high school, preparing students for their post-school destinations. 

Career stability and development

Advancement opportunities in Australia’s public and private education sectors make teaching a viable long-term career option. 
As Ms Dabaja says, teachers who show exceptional talent and passion have many opportunities to get involved with running the school. 
“There are all sorts of fantastic opportunities for teachers to be promoted, whether they’re leading wellbeing teams or heading faculties, key learning area faculty. 
“There are so many opportunities and pathways, and in terms of training, there are the traditional ways of embarking upon a teaching career through the university,” Ms Dabaja explains.
She adds that there are also retraining programs for industry professionals to enter faculty areas, such as mathematics, computer sciences, sciences, or even Technology and Applied Science (TAS). 
Teachers also have access to a whole suite and range of professional learning courses they can participate in online and face-to-face.  

“We also engage heavily in external partnerships with universities. We engage in action research projects, there’s a lot of professional learning that’s conducted across schools. It’s very exciting, it’s enriching, and it also sits under the departmental plan for public education,” Ms Dabaja adds.

Children sitting at desks listening to teacher holding digital tablet

Teachers also have access to a whole suite and range of professional learning courses they can participate in online and face-to-face. Credit: JohnnyGreig/Getty Images

Teachers’ entry-level salaries vary in each state and territory, ranging from about $75,000 to $85,000, which is considered competitive in comparison to Australian graduates in other professions.

Despite a flattening in salary over time relative to other professions, opportunities for career advancement, such as leadership roles or higher-level teaching positions, can lead to increased earning potential over time.
“Teaching does offer a stable and secure career path. Even amidst the economic downturn, like before during COVID, from my experience, both in Hong Kong and now in Australia, I found that teaching remains in high demand. Especially in Australia, the critical areas like early childhood education and secondary teaching,” Mr Ng explains.
Ms Dabaja believes that teaching is a very stable career path. Once a teacher is employed permanently and meets proficiency standards, much work is available. However, it’s crucial to maintain high standards and perform to the expected level.

“They are teachers for life, and there’s also promotional opportunities, all sorts of opportunities for teachers to spread and grow their wings and really pursue the areas of expertise,” Ms Dabaja adds.

Becoming a teacher in Australia

There are multiple pathways if you are considering becoming a teacher in Australia.  
The  website provides comprehensive information on becoming a teacher in Australian states and territories and various pathways to a teaching career. 
As Professor Keane explains, one of the pathways can start after high school. 
“Students who finish Year 12 do an undergraduate study in education and then become a teacher. Or there’s the other way, where they do an undergraduate study in an area of choice, so it could be science or the arts, and then they do a Master of Teaching. They become a teacher after they do the Master of Teaching,” Professor Keane says.
She adds that for overseas skilled migrants, the process is like any form of qualification, and it depends on the country of origin and the state in Australia where you’d like to work as a teacher. 
Professor Keane advises that you may need to contact the university directly and demonstrate your qualifications, or you may need to contact the teacher regulatory authority in that state. 

“In Victoria, we have the VIT [or the Victorian Institute of Teaching], for example. If people are interested in continuing their career path as a teacher, or they are thinking of changing and becoming a teacher, they would need to contact the universities to see whether their degrees can be converted to VIT or the equivalent in each state,” Professor Keane explains.

Male teaching assistant explaining to primary school children in Design Technology class

The Australian teaching degree builds and fosters well-rounded professionals with diverse intellects and social skills. (Getty) Credit: 10’000 Hours/Getty Images

Aspiring teachers need the right qualifications, but the process is relatively straightforward. 

Professor Keane says, if you have finished high school, you can pursue an undergraduate degree in teaching, such as a Bachelor of Education. 
However, suppose you have completed another degree, like a Bachelor of Computer Science, and have decided that you would like to work in teaching instead of in a lab. In that case, you can opt for a Master of Teaching, which typically takes two years on top of your previous degree.
She adds that the Australian teaching qualifications build and foster well-rounded professionals with diverse intellects and social skills.  
Professor Keane explains what aspiring teachers can expect while studying. 

“They will be looking at behaviour, equity, and the use of computing, as well as Indigenous culture. These are just only a handful of things, but on top of that, they also go out and do professional experience, which means that they get practice in a classroom. So, they get to do some teaching and as their degree progresses, they do more substantial teaching until the end of their degree,” Professor Keane elaborates.

The role of multicultural teachers in Australian society

Ms Dabaja believes that teachers from diverse backgrounds in Australia bring unique perspectives to the classroom, enriching the learning environment in several ways.
“Coming from an ethnic background really has just spurred me to make sure that I taught in schools where there was socioeconomic disadvantage because there’s something so rewarding about pursuing equity of outcomes for young people who may not have come from privileged backgrounds. So, what happens at school really matters.”
“So, understanding the nuances and the needs and the challenges of coming from diverse backgrounds, working school teams to, for example, support  refugee students is one of the most rewarding things you can do,” Ms Dabaja says.
Teachers from diverse backgrounds often employ varied teaching approaches, influenced by their cultural and educational experiences, to accommodate different learning styles and preferences. 
Ms Dabaja says, such teachers can be an excellent support for parents and students.
“There’s someone there to listen to them , and there is someone there to provide them guidance if they need it. Coming from a diverse background and teaching in multicultural settings, it’s representative of the rich, community that Australia is made up of. It brings  value to our environment,” she adds.

To find out more about a career in teaching, visit  bethatteacher.gov.au.

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This SBS podcast was produced in partnership with the Department of Education.



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