Secondary School Teacher under the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)


Ever felt like having a part in shaping young minds? Or has the corporate world wrung you dry and you’re looking for a career in something more contributory? Did you know that even if you are already a degree holder, you don’t need to have a background in education to embark on a postgraduate qualification in education? You can have a Bachelor in Architecture and move directly on to a Master of  Education*, which makes the move to education one that takes you forward, not backward. From an immigration perspective, the secondary school teacher occupation certainly has its benefits too.

* Different universities label their courses differently. Some use education as a broad term but caters to specialisations in secondary within, whilst other courses are built solely for secondary teaching. For example, the University of Sydney (USYD) has a Master of Education course as well as a Master of Teaching (Secondary).

The secondary school teacher occupation has sat on the skilled occupation list (SOL) for a very long time now and it is still in shortage. For the migration programme year 2016/17 the occupation ceiling for secondary school teachers is 8032 spaces, the third largest out of all the occupations on the SOL. With only three months until quotas are reset, only 427 spots have been filled. Last year was a similar story, with 570 out of 8000 secondary teachers absorbed into Australia. Note that the quota (demand) has gone up instead of down.

Certain occupations like accountants, engineers and those that are IT related receive a surplus in applications and are thus pro rated. This means that the release of spots are staggered through the year, and only those with higher scores of 65 to 70 on the points test stand a chance against the heavy competition. We don’t predict that this competitive landscape will ease up anytime soon; it may in fact only become more difficult. Secondary school teachers face no such problem and are likely to be successful with a 60 point score and requirements met.

Learn: Occupation ceilings and pro rated occupations

Learn: How SkillSelect works

In getting yourself a suitable skills assessment, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)  has the following requirements:

  • Educational: Study assessed by AITSL as comparable to at least four years full-time (or part-time equivalent) higher education (university) level study in Australia, that results in a qualification/s
  • Professional: An initial teacher education qualification relevant to the secondary school teacher occupation of at least one year full-time study (or part time equivalent) at the higher education (university) level. The qualification must include a minimum of 45 days of supervised teaching practice with students across the age range of 13 – 18 years in a secondary school setting
  • English: An Academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Test Report Form (TRF) that shows a score of at least 7.0 for both Reading and Writing; and a score of at least 8.0 for both Speaking and Listening.

You can find the requirements on downloading the appropriate application form from AITSL.

Whether you are starting fresh and in a Bachelor’s program or you are moving into education with a postgraduate qualification, you are certain to complete both the educational and professional requirements (inclusive of the supervised teaching) within your course. Keep in mind that the professional requirements ask for study relevant to being a secondary school teacher. The AITSL does not ask for any work experience either. Often, the stumbling block that many face is in meeting the English requirements, which are scores that are near the superior competency level. This challenge is already met at the point of application into a course; postgraduate teaching courses have close to or the same English requirements as the AITSL skills assessment.

There is an exemption for the English requirement, if “An applicant has completed at least four full years of study in higher education (university) in Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States of America. This study must have resulted in award of qualification(s) comparable to the educational level of an Australian bachelor degree or higher and must include a recognised initial teacher education qualification.” Please check with your university on if your course will result in a recognised initial teacher education qualification if you are on a graduate diploma course.

SMH: Goodbye DipEd: The long and expensive road leading to teaching today

The Age: Applications for graduate teaching courses drop 40 per cent in Victoria

It’s natural to weigh the costs of a career change. Graduate diplomas in secondary education are the ideal entry point at only a year of full time study and one year of fees. Whilst the annual fees between a graduate diploma and masters is the roughly the same within a university in most of the universities we’ve checked, the Masters course is double the time and therefore, the fees.

Not all universities offer the graduate diploma any longer however. Teachers have huge responsibilities and the AITSL made a relatively recent change across the board in 2014,  requiring all initial teacher education graduate programmes to move on to two years. These toughening standards have resulted in a drop in demand for teaching courses (and will contribute to the occupation’s continued  residence on the SOL). There are still a few graduate diploma programmes left, but in 2018 they will cease to exist in Australia. As such point, it is likely that AITSL will require two years relevant study under its professional requirements.

It is perhaps a little daunting, being a teacher is a challenging profession, but if you have a passion we are sure the career will be a dynamic, adventurous and rewarding one.

Amy Kim