Nursing in Australia: Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

By Emma Bates on Sun, Nov 20, 2011

What type of nurses are eligible for a work visa in Australia?

To practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Australia, you need to be a qualified nurse, midwife, mental health nurse or nurse practitioner. You must have undertaken an initial nurse training (an undergraduate diploma/degree which is comparable to Australian university training). Please note it does depend which country you trained in; a list is usually found on the Nursing and Midwifery Board website.

How 'easy' is it to get a visa to work in Australia as a nurse?

It can be relatively easy, providing your nursing qualifications pass the Nursing and Midwifery Boards criteria. To find out the criteria, you need to check their websites in each state/territory. A new national registration accreditation scheme came into effect this year, which means once you have your Australian Nursing Registration, you are eligible to work in any state or territory of Australia. The national body is called the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Board and handles all new registrations. Their website is The range of nursing roles in Australia is diverse; this is due to the size of the country, its geography and the environment and the spread of the population. Please check your eligibility for registration before applying for a visa.

What types of work visa are available for nurses?

There are a variety of visas, but the most popular visas for nurses are working holiday visas (one year) and Temporary Business (457 visa) Sponsorship (four years), but there are many other types, including permanent Residency. To see which visa nurses may be eligible for, they can check the Australian immigration website; there is a section specific for nurses and doctors. See

What special requirements for registering as a nurse in Australia?

Registered Nurses must be in good health to work in the Australian Health service and will need to have a medical examination, chest x-ray and blood tests to work in the service.

Are there any differences in the nursing registration requirements between states and territories?

Australia consists of six states, two mainland territories, so nursing can vary slightly between them, however the Australia nursing system has just nationalised, so this should help to make things consistent.

Which state has the most nursing shortage?

When researching the Nursing in Australia ebooks, originally it was New South Wales that had the biggest nursing population as a whole and the biggest shortage of nurses in Australia, but this may have since changed. I wouldn’t let this influence your decision though. Choose the area you most want to live in first.

Interestingly, Queensland did have the biggest intake of overseas Registered Nurses on a Temporary Business 457 visa, closely followed by the states of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia.

What are the key steps in the process when planning to nurse in Australia? What should you do first – apply for a visa or find a job?

Before applying for a visa, you need to check your eligibility for nursing registration in Australia. A useful government link (see links section).

You can start applying for a job once you are confident you can obtain both your nursing registration and you are eligible for a visa. My guidebook Nursing in Australia - A Guide to Working and Living as a Nurse Down Under takes you through the process more thoroughly and provides you with a list of details of employer options. For more information see


It’s worth also noting at this point that all overseas nurses (regardless of their first language) now have to undergo an International English Language Test to obtain their nursing registration in Australia.

Are overseas nurse entitled for medical care in Australia or would they need to purchase a private health insurance?


Medicare is available to overseas nurses with reciprocal health care agreements. However all nurses will be subject to Medicare Levy. Higher income earners may be subject to a higher levy, so looking into private health insurance may be of beneficial my book explains this in further detail.


What is the pay rate for nurses in Australia?


Currently Registered Nurses can expect to earn approximately AUD$ 24 - $34 per hour depending on experience; although this figure will vary and does not include senior or managerial positions.

What is your e-book - Nursing in Australia – A Guide to Working and Living as a Nurse Down Under about?


Nursing in Australia - A Guide to Working and Living as a Nurse Down Under is an eBook which aims to equip internationally qualified nurses with information prior to arriving in Australia and starting work in its health service. The eBook includes information on preparation nurses need to undertake (and what they need to know) up front, how much it is likely to cost, where they might think about living and how to obtain the right visa, as well as lots of technical information, from hospital contact details and advice on getting a job, to drug calculation checklists and National Inpatient Medication Charts.


The eBook covers: planning your trip, visas; health examinations; the English language test; what to expect from nursing in the Australian health service; familiarising yourself with the health service; administering medication in Australia; job grades; nursing salaries; and successfully performing drug calculations in Australia and much more.


You can also download the first 20 pages of the eBook for free; this includes the contents pages listing all the subjects covered and more. The eBook is 361 pages (a total of 3 parts). Please visit

On the same website can be found a second eBook called Nursing in the Australian Health Service. This is comprised of the majority of Part Two of the above eBook, with some additional selected information for nurses not wanting guidance about getting into Australia. Essentially an in depth guide to the Australian Health Service and how it operates, this second eBook is 186 pages in length. It is a comprehensive guide to the Australian health service and contains valuable information for Australian nurses, new graduates, nursing students and transitional nurses looking to familiarize themselves with the Australian health system.