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Killing It At Work

Nursing Career in Australia: All You Need to Know

A nursing career in Australia has endless opportunities; you can steer it in any direction. Nursing is an essential career in the health care system. Nurses in Australia are classified as underpaid professional workers. However, this is not always the case. Some nurses receive a bigger paycheck depending on their field of specialisation and other factors.

The nursing salary varies depending on the location of practice, skills, and other qualifications. Technology and innovation are rapidly shaping various aspects of the nursing career.

How can you maximise your nursing career skills and earn a higher salary in Australia? Let’s explore ways to navigate the profession to maximise your nursing salary in Australia.

Navigating Australia's Healthcare System: Opportunities and Challenges

Nursing jobs are always in high demand in Australia. Nurses can venture into various fields, such as:

1. Technology and Digital Health

Technology has been integrated into the health care system. Nurses must be able to use digital health solutions and technology in their daily practice. Having the necessary technological skills in the health and medical sector can put you ahead of your co-workers.

2. Various Areas of Specialisation

Nurses can specialise in various areas of interest, such as oncology, geriatrics, paediatrics, cardiovascular care, or diabetes. Some nursing fields pay more than others. Do your research and establish a lucrative field in which to venture into.

3. The Aging Population

Australia has a high aging population, leading to more opportunities and challenges for nurses.

The opportunities for working as a nurse in Australia are endless. On top of your academic qualifications, you must have more skill sets to stand out in the profession.

Some of the challenges the nurses face are long working hours, technological advancements, compassion fatigue, and physical and emotional fatigue.

Qualifications and Skills Required for Nursing in Australia

The nursing job is a perfect fit for people who truly enjoy service to humanity on a personal level. As a nurse, you must be able to work in a constantly changing environment.

There are two ways to become a nurse in Australia: Registered Nurse (RN) or Enrolled Nurse (EN).

Here are the requirements to become a Registered Nurse (RN)

1. You must complete a Bachelor of Nursing.

2. Apply to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to work as a registered nurse. The registration is renewed annually.

3. Then, continue working as an RN general nurse for several years. You can specialise in specific nursing fields such as elder care, paediatric nursing, emergency nursing, and cardiology, among others.

To become an Enrolled Nurse (EN), you need the following qualifications:

1. Complete a diploma in nursing

2. Apply to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to practice as an enrolled nurse. You must renew your registration annually.

3. You can work for a few years as an EN and consider enrolling in a Bachelor in Nursing to become a RN.

Besides academic qualifications, other useful soft skills in the nursing career are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Self-confidence
  3. Time management
  4. Emotional intelligence
  5. Teamwork
  6. Communication
  7. Patience
  8. Problem-solving skills
  9. Attention to detail


Nursing Registration in Australia: Requirements and Processes

Registering as a nurse in Australia can be challenging, especially for nurses educated overseas. Here are the requirements and process for registering as a nurse in Australia.

To start your practice as a registered or enrolled nurse in Australia, you must be registered under AHPRA, a body mandated to govern and regulate health care professionals. AHPRA ensures that every nurse meets the standards and requirements for public safety.

However, as an international nurse, the registration process might differ. Here are the requirements of AHPRA for overseas nurses.

AHPRA Self-Check

Do an AHPRA Self-Check before commencing the registration. The self-check involves self-evaluation to help you confirm your eligibility and identify possible challenges you might encounter during the registration process.

AHPRA Overseas Registration

The registration process will require you to submit crucial documentation such as proof of education, clinical experience, professional references, and English language proficiency. Remember to submit all the documentation within the given time frame.

Bridging Courses

Overseas-trained nurses must undergo bridging programs to get familiar with Australian healthcare systems, protocols, and regulations. The bridging programs are meant to harmonise your international nursing qualifications with Australian nursing standards.


Before registration as an international nurse, a standardised NCLEX examination will be administered by NCSBN (the National Council of State Boards of Nursing). You must pass the NCLEX to obtain licensure as a Registered Nurse in Australia.

Once you have passed the NCLEX, you will proceed to the OSCE. The OSCE tests your competencies in clinical nursing practice. The practical exam will assess your skills, abilities, and knowledge through various simulated scenarios.


Maximising Your Earnings: Understanding Nursing Salaries in Australia

Nursing jobs are among some of the highest-paying in Australia. On average, the income of a registered nurse in Australia is $42.45 per hour or $82,770 annually. Entry-level nurses start with approximately $77,544 annually and go up to $109,131 annually for more experienced nurses.

To maximise your earnings as a nurse, consider the following tips.

Work During Shifts That Others Don’t Want

Most nurses prefer to work during the weekdays. The health sector will require nurses during weekends, early mornings, and public holidays. Nurses who work during such times earn a bit more than those working regular hours.

Study for an On-Demand Specialisation or a Management Role

There are various nursing roles, and they don’t pay equally. Roles such as nursing practitioner, director of nursing, or nurse unit manager have a higher salary than registered nurses.

To acquire higher-paying roles, you should possess the expertise and competencies necessary. It would be best to have several years’ work experience to qualify or undertake a suitable postgraduate qualification, such as an advanced nursing master’s degree.

Nursing Agencies

Working with a nursing agency can potentially pay you a higher salary than working directly with a healthcare facility.

Work in a Location Where Pay is Better

Some Australian States pay nurses higher salaries than others. Also, the cost of living differs across states. You can choose to work in a state where the salary is higher or the cost of living is lower to maximise your salary.


Tips for Success in the Australian Nursing Field

To excel in your nursing career in Australia, you must prepare daily for success. Here are some ideas to help you succeed in the nursing field.

Dedicate Yourself to Serve

Your patients are your primary responsibility. Therefore, you should professionally and humanely care for your patients regardless of age, background, or ethnicity. A successful nurse should show compassion, empathy, and patience even to the most irrational, angry, or scared patient.

Punctuality and Reliability

Reliability and dependability are top-notch skills that make you stand out as a nurse. Timely delivery of your responsibilities to your patients and co-workers helps reduce errors in hospitals. When you stand out, the management can consider you for a higher position that comes with a higher salary.

Willingness to Learn

One of the ways to excel in your nursing career is your willingness to learn every day. Be open to learning about emerging medical techniques and technologies. You can also learn by understanding a patient’s perspective or culture. Try to stay up to date with current developments in the medical field, especially in your hospital. Learning not only improves your career but also leads to personal growth.

Practice Self-Care

Treating yourself with compassion and taking care of your well-being is also important. Nurses face numerous challenges daily, working long and odd hours, often leading to burnout, secondary trauma, and compassion fatigue.

Use your time off to practice self-care and rejuvenating activities such as meditation, exercising, sleeping well, and healthy eating. Caring for a patient is hard if your body and mind are exhausted.

Final Thoughts

Above the academic qualifications, nursing is a profession that requires additional skills such as empathy, patience, love, and understanding. To qualify for a  nursing career in Australia, one must have the required academic qualifications: a Bachelor's degree for registered nurses and a diploma for enrolled nurses.

If you are an international nursing student, check all the requirements before applying for registration. Keep improving your nursing skills to excel and maximise your salary.

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