Moving to Sydney for Work

Sydney is a very big city, providing work opportunities in a variety of industries and sectors. A financial and business hub of the country, Sydney’s contribution to the Australian GDP is of great importance.

Some of the largest companies in the country and the world are based in or around Sydney including Woolworths, Caltex and the Commonwealth Bank.

Work visas

To work in Sydney, you’ll be required to apply for and obtain a work visa. Before you can do that, you will need to have your qualifications and skills recognised in Australia. To find out whether your skills qualify for recognition, visit the Australian Government’s qualifications and skills recognition page where you can search for an equivalent licence, assess your education qualifications and assess your trade skills.

If you have skills or qualifications that Australia needs, you’ll be able to apply for a visa using SkillSelect where you can be invited to apply by the Australian Government, nominated by a state or territory or nominated by an employer.

SkillSelect is an online service that manages Australia’s migration on the country’s economic needs. You may be eligible for a skilled visa if, among other things, you are a skilled overseas worker with skills that are needed in Australia.

Alternatively, you can obtain a sponsored or nominated work visa. You may be eligible if, among other things, you are nominated or sponsored by:

  • An approved Australian employer or business
  • A state or territory government agency
  • A state or territory authority

Proficiency in English and an official skills assessment are requirements for most Australian working visas.

To compare your visa options, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affair’s Visa Options Comparison Chart.

For more information on obtaining the right to work in Australia, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Working conditions

Sydney’s working conditions are considered some of the best in the world and provide employees with a flexible work-life balance. For more information about your workplace rights and obligations regarding pay, leave, employee entitlements, awards and agreements, small business and ending employment, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If you have a question or problem relating to your workplace, check the ‘before you call checklist’ and call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

The Australian Government’s Fair Work Ombudsman also protects those working on a visa from employer breaches. Your employer cannot cancel your visa. Only the Department of Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel visas. For more information on the visa protections you’re entitled to, visit the Visa Holders and Migrants page.

The Australian Government also recommends you keep a diary of days and hours you have worked and keep copies of records of employment details, pay slips, agreements and superannuation, and tax documents.

Although working conditions in Sydney are favourable, the cost of living is quite high. Sydney ranked 24th on the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2017 while in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 worldwide cost of living survey, the city ranked 14th.[1]


Sydney is often considered the face of Australia, home to some of the country’s most iconic buildings, natural wonders and attractions. As a result, Sydney is Australia’s leading tourist destination and the gateway to the state of New South Wales.

Tourism will therefore always be one of the major industries in Sydney which draws almost 10 million domestic and international visitors each year, with year on year statistics collected by Tourism Research Australia continuing to grow.[2]

Sydney tourism statistics published by Destination NSW show the majority of international tourists visiting Sydney are from China, followed by New Zealand, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.[3]

And it’s not just visitors and tourists who benefit from Sydney’s booming tourism industry. According to the City of Sydney, more than ten per cent of local jobs are within the tourism industry.[4]

Domestic tourism also plays an important role in the economic makeup of Sydney with an estimated ten million domestic visitors spending at least one night in Sydney in the first half of 2017.[5]

Leading Sydney industries

Sydney’s economic development strategy identifies the following industries as priority and key as they make the greatest contribution to jobs in the local economy:

  • Retail
  • Tourism
  • International education
  • Creative and digital
  • Tech startups
  • Finance and professional services

[1] Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017, The Economist Intelligence Unit.

[2] Tourism Statistics, published by Tourism Australia

[3] Travel to Sydney (YTD ending June 2017), published by Destination NSW

[4] First stop Sydney, published by City of Sydney

[5] Travel to Sydney (YTD ending June 2017), published by Destination NSW

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