University Jobs in Australia: Where to find them and how to land one.

A University ProfessorUniversity jobs certainly have a few advantages over your typical office job. Instead of a daily grind working towards increasing a company’s bottom line, academic staff are tasked with exploring ideas, researching a particular subject area until they become the go-to expert, then passing this knowledge on to their students. Lecturers at Australian universities can hold their heads high, with five Australian entries on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2010 (The University of Melbourne currently ranks highest at number 36). So what does it take to find and land a teaching job at one of these institutions? Read on to find out.

What qualifications do I need for a university job?

It won’t shock anyone to hear that a university degree in a relevant field is a requirement for most academic jobs in Australia. In fact, you’d be extremely hard-pressed to find a job description that doesn’t mention a subject-specific degree, along with teaching experience, and sometimes even a track record of publication. “The skills lecturers need will be discipline specific, if you review the university’s job search web page, the academic vacancies there will give you a flavour,” advises Melbourne University’s Jackie Rosario, who manages Human Resources at the University’s Law School. What will also become obvious as you look over a university’s job listings is that the higher up the academic scale a job is, the higher your level of qualifications will need to be. In other words, a PhD level qualification is mandatory when applying for roles as a professor, while there are fewer requirements for lecturer or associate lecturer positions.

Where do I start looking for academic jobs?

Try traditional job-seeking methods for academic jobs in Australia and you might start to panic about the number of positions available at the moment. The main resource when it comes to Australian university job listings is still university websites and many tertiary institutions keep news of new job openings in their own websites’ job sections, so it always pays to check these pages before deciding that there just aren’t any jobs available at the moment. Niche portals are making the process easier for job-seeker and university alike by delivering the latest vacancies from around the globe from a single location. With powerful search tools and the ability to create an online Resume the jobs board in particular is quickly becoming the “go to” place for finding new opportunities in this field.

What’s the pay like?

As a lecturer in an Australian university, your salary will depend on the institution you work for to a certain extent. That said, you can expect even an entry-level lecturing job to start around about the $70,000 mark. As a rough guideline, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University was recently advertised with a starting salary of just over AUD$89,000, while the Australian National University was looking for a lecturer for their College of Business and Economics starting at just over $80,000. Another thing you’ll notice as you browse university job listings is the classification of each role into levels A through to E. These “minimum standards for academic levels” (MSALs) outline the different requirements for each position along with the required level of achievement of the academic. So a Level A academic, for example, will usually have four years of tertiary or equivalent study under their belt, and be able to work with the support and guidance of more senior staff members. At the top end of the scale are Level E academics, who, while still taking care of day-to-day tasks like running tutorials and marking papers, also undertake projects such as the supervision of honours and postgraduate students and the development of research policy. Again, salaries increase with the academic level of the job. “A full time Lecturer (Level B) starts on $80,318 per annum, and at the top end of the scale for a Professor (Level E) the full time annual salary is $152,527,” Rosario says of roles at Melbourne University’s Law School.

Tips for Applications

There’s no getting around it – putting together an application for one of these jobs isn’t a simple process. To help you get started, we’ll leave you with these tips for applying for Australian university jobs:
  • Start by checking the university’s jobs website for any specific advice they might have on applying for roles at their particular institution.
  • More often than not, addressing selection criteria is part of the university jobs application process. When you put your answers together, remember to follow the STAR formula: outline the Situation, the Task, the Action you took, and the Results.
  • As with any job application, it will always pay to research the role and the institution before you start writing. This is also a good time to get in touch with the contact officer to see whether there are any specific requirements for the position.