Travelling Australia as a Teacher

I receive at least one message a week from teachers who are planning to hit the road and want to know whether teaching whilst travelling is a viable way to fund their travels, how easy it is to get work teaching whilst travelling and how they go about registering to teach interstate. This article is only meant as a guide, and is based on my own experiences teaching whilst travelling in 2016 and 2017. Everyone’s situation is different and I strongly advise you to do your own research before travelling.

How much work is there out there?

If, like me you’re from a populated area on the east coast of Australia, you will know that finding reliable work as a teacher can be difficult. The good news is, this is not the case in many parts of Australia. Remote and regional schools throughout the country find it very difficult to find good quality teachers, especially to fill temporary or short term contracts. I registered to teach in the NT and WA and was inundated with job offers. Every time I looked for work I found it. In term 4 of 2016 I was looking for a 10 week contract in either the NT or WA. I applied for twelve positions and was offered eight. I have turned down many more contracts than I have accepted.

What do I need to do to teach interstate?

1. Apply for registration with the accreditation body of the state you wish to teach in.

If you’re from any state other than NSW, and you are fully accredited in your home state, you can apply for registration under mutual recognition. This means you only need to fill in one short form and provide some identification and proof of registration in your home state. If, like me, you’re from NSW, you can still apply for registration interstate, but you need to fill in a different form and send in your university transcripts and statements of service too. Once you’re registered in a state that is not NSW, you can then apply for mutual recognition in other states. Teacher registration costs anywhere from $80-$150 depending on the state or territory and must be done separately for each state you work in. This can usually be completed online but you’re best advised to call the accreditation body and have a chat over the phone about your particular circumstances. You cannot teach without being registered so it is best to organise this a few weeks before you start looking for work.

2. Apply for a Working with Children Check.

This is usually a fairly simple process that can be completed online. It involves proving your identity, giving some information on past addresses and paying a small fee (usually $40-$70). Again, you cannot teach without this and the process can take time so ensure you organise your clearance prior to looking for work.

3. Apply with the Department of Education.

This process is completely different in each state, but usually once you have your teacher registration and Working with Children Check, you can apply to teach with the DoE. Usually, once you have done this, you are entered into the pool of teachers looking for work and will be contacted by schools when they have appropriate vacancies. In Western Australia you do not need to complete this step, but you do need to go onto the jobs WA website and register for the fixed term contract pool.

How do I find work?

I have used three main ways to find work during my travels.

1. Schools contacting the teacher.

Once you register to teach in a state, you can elect to go on the list for short term or temporary contracts. If your experience and availability match a vacancy at a school, then the school will call you. I undertook a 2 week block at a school in Central Australia using this method.

2. Applying for advertised positions.

Many short term contracts are advertised online. I applied for an advertised position at a remote school in Arnhem Land and the school rang me the next day asking when I could start. I travelled to the school a few weeks later and had the most amazing teaching experience of my career.

3. Contacting schools directly.

When we were travelling through the southern half of Western Australia and the funds were running low, I simply emailed my CV to every secondary school south of Perth along with a letter explaining that I was travelling and was looking for 2-4 weeks work. A few days later a school just outside of Perth called me and I spent 4 weeks teaching English there. It was a wonderful position and they were very thankful to have a capable teacher fill in whilst they were looking to fill the position permanently.

How much will I get paid?

This depends on a number of factors. Each state will require you to provide university transcripts and statements of service in order for them to place you on the correct pay rung. You will generally be on a similar pay rung to that of your home state, but the actual pay varies greatly. I am from NSW and in both the NT and WA my rate of pay was significantly higher than it was in NSW. On top of this, if you take on work in rural and remote schools you may be eligible for extra loading and benefits. When teaching in Arnhem Land, we were supplied with a 3 bedroom home and our relocation costs to and from the community were compensated. When teaching in Central Australia I was paid an extra $100 a day due to the remote nature of the school.

Can I enrol my children where I am teaching?

This will depend on the rules in each state and where you are teaching. When teaching in Central Australia our 4 year old visited the preschool each day with his sister and father. When teaching in Arnhem Land, we enrolled him in the local preschool.

Why should I teach whilst travelling?

Other than the obvious reason that teaching whilst travelling will help you fund your trip, there are so many other benefits. I have gained so much experience in a wide variety of schools which has benefited my teaching practice enormously. Every place I have taught, has taught me something new. On top of this, my CV is varied and I have so many more skills listed. The other reason to teach whilst travelling, is that schools in rural and remote parts of Australia need you. They struggle to find quality teachers who are willing to go the distance.

 

I hope this has answered some of your questions and will inspire you to travel Australia and teach as you go. The paperwork involved may be huge, but it is definitely worth the effort.

In a few week's time, just as our time on the road hits a whopping 14 months, we'll be arriving back where we started. We'll be selling our caravan and then heading north to settle down for a while in a house. I am terribly sad that our epic trip is almost over. It's been one of the most amazing, life changing things we've ever done. I've loved every minute of travelling Australia with my business and my family, but there are certainly a few things I am looking forward to. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Having my own bathroom.

I am so excited about unpacking my shower bag for good. I'm excited about using a clean shower that I don't need to mop afterwards. I'm excited about going to the toilet without listening to other strangers poo in the stall next to me. I'm excited about my 4 year old being able to go to the bathroom on his own. I'm excited about toilets that flush and bathrooms that don't require a key or a code to get into.

2. Multiple rooms.

Whilst I am not looking forward to having an entire house to clean, I am looking forward to having space. I am excited about being able to retreat to a room and close the door and have some privacy. I'm excited about getting dressed in the morning without someone making toast 2 inches from my backside. I'm excited about cooking without 2 children at my feet and about being able to kindly send my children to their bedroom when they're behaving like lunatics and need some quiet time to settle down. I'm excited about having space to create that is free from distractions and is actually comfortable.

3. Having my own laundry.

I'm excited about getting rid of our twin tub and having a real washing machine again. I'm looking forward to putting my dirty washing into a machine and being able to press a button and walk away. I'm excited about being able to dry my clothes in the dryer on rainy days and about not having to carry my pegs to the clothesline. I'm excited about it taking an hour to tie dye clothing instead of 3.

4. A backyard.

I'm excited about having a veggie garden and being able to walk outside and pick my own herbs. About having grass to lay on with the kids and an outdoor space where I can relax because there's fences and gates and they can't run away when my back is turned.

5. Routine.

Whilst I love being spontaneous and I love the freedom of being on the road, I'm kind of excited about going back to a regular routine. I'm looking forward to being able to remember what day of the week it is and about actually remembering to pay the bills on time. I'm looking forward to predictability and actually getting the kids to bed at the same time every night.

6. Services.

I'm looking forward to having regular access to basic services. There's a lot to be said for being able to see the same doctor whenever someone in the family is sick. I'm looking forward to taking the kids to regular children's activities where people actually know our names and I'm excited about sending our son to preschool. 

7. Friends.

I cannot wait to have friends again who I see on a regular basis. I cannot wait to have friends to catch up with for a chat who know me back to front, who I can vent to about my family (because things don't go so well when you complain about your family to your family). I'm excited about having people to call on when I need help who I know I can return the favour to at a later date because I'll actually see them again.

8. Power, water and internet.

I'm excited about having utilities that I don't have to plug in, ones that are reliable. I am excited about having fast internet with downloads and water that tastes good all of the time.

9. A real fridge.

I'm excited about having a fridge that I can fit everything in easily, a fridge that I can see what's in it at a glance. I cannot wait to buy and cook in bulk again.

10. Mess.

I'm excited about making mess, about leaving things out on benches and the floor and not having to pack them into a tiny cupboard the next day. I'm excited about giving the kids an indoor space where they can run around and make as much mess and they want. I'm excited about leaving a mess in the kitchen and not having to the dishes immediately after meal.

 

I'm sure that after a week of living in a house again I'll have a list of 100 things I miss about living in a caravan, but at the moment I am going to focus on all the things I have to look forward to.