Read our advice to kick-start your employment in Sydney

  • 06-11-23
  • Chloe Weldon | Richard Lloyd

So, you’ve decided to move to the other side of the globe. You’re not alone, with 90,000 backpackers arriving in 2022 post-COVID and more forecasted for 23/24, relocating to Australia has never been more appealing.

We have helped many accounting professionals from the UK, Ireland, Europe and South America (and others!) to secure accounting roles in Sydney. We often get asked a lot of questions about the whole recruitment process for those moving to Sydney from overseas and here are some of our top tips to consider when thinking about making the move.

Obtaining a visa

Before you can relocate or even find a job, you’ll need to obtain a working visa. There are a whole host of options depending on your individual circumstances and how long you are planning to stay in Australia. The most common two are the Working Holiday visa (WHV) and the Skilled Migration visa:

WHV (Subclass 417 & 462)

This is usually the easiest option for people up to the age of 30 (and now 35 for some countries including the UK, Canada and Ireland) who are looking to work, live and travel for up to 12 months. There are now provisions to apply for a 2nd and a 3rd WHV to extend your time in Australia to up to 3 years. View more details on the eligibility for the WHV.

Skilled migration

Because of the demand for workers in Australia, qualified accountants are eligible to apply for longer-term visas if they meet the government's criteria. As of September 2023, Accountant, Management Accountant, Finance Manager and External Auditor were all listed on the Immigration - Home Affairs website as eligible for Temporary Skill Shortage, Employer Nominated, Skilled Independent and Skilled Nominated visas.

Our best advice is to speak with a reputable immigration specialist to see where you stand. Although some visas can be an easy process, the applications can take time. This is good to keep in mind when embarking on your accounting job search, as employers will need evidence of your working rights before entertaining job offers.

Why Sydney?

If you have been to Sydney before, the answer to this question should be reasonably obvious! But in case you haven’t, Sydney has a lot to offer. It is the most populated city in Australia (5.3m people) and one of the most diverse. The weather and the sunshine are pretty good all year round, with warm Springs and Autumn, beach-worthy summers, and moderate winters. There are over 100 beaches in Sydney alone and it’s well-connected to explore the rest of the country. It is a hub for many local and international businesses with a busy CBD attracting people from all over the world.  

Securing the right accounting role

As Sydney is one of Australia’s biggest business centres, a large percentage of international firms choose Sydney as a regional hub, as well as many national businesses. This leads to a number of excellent corporate opportunities within the greater Sydney area. 

Backpackers have been a staple in the Australian workforce for many years with companies used to having short-term and seasonal workers within the visa parameters. But what steps do you need to take to secure one of these roles?

Searching for a role

There are many tools at your disposal when it comes to beginning your job search in Sydney. One of the biggest tools used by employers and recruiters is Seek. If you haven’t already, it is worth creating a profile and uploading a copy of your CV. There are thousands of opportunities listed in Sydney and around the country.

Temporary and contract roles

Most accounting teams in Sydney are familiar with hiring backpackers, as they often seek help with immediate temporary and shorter-term vacancies. With a Working Holiday visa, you are restricted to 6 months with one employer (as of September 2023), but these have been known to change from time to time, so it’s best to keep yourself up to date with the rules. There are many perks with temporary employment. Not only does it give you the flexibility to work in many different roles, but you can also gain exposure to new systems and industries. A more extensive list of the benefits of a temp role can be found here.

Updating your CV

Having an up-to-date CV ready to go can help you hit the ground running with your job search. Listing your experience from back home is essential, as a lot of the skills and systems are transferable. If you need some help or inspiration for your resume here are 10 tips you can follow to make yours stand out.

Professional qualifications

Overseas accounting qualifications such as the ACCA, CAI, ICAEW & CIMA are recognised and respected by employers all across Australia, as they’re often viewed as being equivalent to local qualifications (which makes life easier!). But depending on the level of role you are seeking, a degree or an AAT can be just as valuable.


After sending your updated resume to companies and recruiters, you may find yourself somewhat inundated with calls and meetings to talk through your experience. Whether you land an interview with a potential employer or a recruitment consultant, it is good to be prepared to make a lasting first impression. If you want to put your best foot forward, we have compiled a handy checklist in order to help you prepare for interviews.

Work culture

Working in Sydney is not unlike most other major cities across the world. Even though you may have been living out of your backpack for a few months, and shorts and flip-flops have been your go-to, investing in business attire when you arrive is essential. A simple suit and open collar shirt, or a blouse and smart trousers/skirt can be purchased at a reasonable price. First impressions count, even for contract work.

Business hours are generally standard 8.30/9 am to 5/5.30 pm, which gives you plenty of time to get to the beach in the summer months. Many companies are operating on a hybrid WFH/Office basis, which they can extend to new employees once up and running.

Wages and taxes

Pay rates range depending on your experience and particular skill set but suffice it to say it’s more than enough to have a good quality of life and fund your travel to see the rest of Australia. All Richard Lloyd temps are paid weekly based on hours worked. In Australia, a standard working week is around 38 hours but you know this can vary a lot in the accounting profession due to deadlines etc..

You will need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) when you arrive in Sydney, there are Backpacker tax laws in place in Australia designed to help you, the ATO lays out the rules here.

Superannuation is also a term you may not be too familiar with; this is essentially money put aside while you’re working to support financial needs in retirement; similar to a pension. Salaries will often be displayed as + Super or Inc. Super – in FY23/24, this is currently 11%, but there are plans for incremental increases. When discussing salary, it is good to be clear if your salary or hourly rate is inclusive or plus super. This will help you to understand how much your take-home pay will be.

Organising the essentials

Your visa is approved, the flights are booked, and your resume is updated, but don’t forget the essential 'life admin' you will need to organise for your personal life. There are a number of things you can organise before you arrive, or within your first week here.

  • Finding accommodation: There are many hostels throughout the CBD and Eastern Suburbs that can be a great starting base when you arrive. Often people use Flatmates.Com, Airbnb and Facebook to find their longer-term accommodation. Pages on Facebook like “Irish Around Sydney”, “Bondi Local Loop” and “Inner East and West Housemates” will also have a number of listings.
  • Setting up a bank account: This is a lot easier than it was many years ago and can even be done online before you arrive in Sydney. The major banks that people tend to use in Australia are Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac, but there are a lot of small options as well.
  • Transport: If you are living in Sydney's inner city, the public transport options are excellent. With a comprehensive mix of trains, buses and light-rail Links, getting around Sydney with an Opal Card is very cost-effective. You can even use your credit or debit card to 'tap and go'. 
  • Healthcare: Depending on your country of origin, you may have to purchase travel/health insurance. But for those from the UK, there is a reciprocal health agreement with the NHS where temporary and permanent residents can benefit. Apply for a Medicare Card as soon as you arrive to avoid waiting when you really need it.

If beaches, barbeques, and lots of sunshine sound appealing, then moving to Sydney might just be the answer. Whether it’s to fund further travelling, gain overseas work experience to accelerate your career or settle down more permanently, there are many options for Accountants in Sydney.

If you’re keen to find out about accounting roles for backpackers, you are in the right place. Our temporary and contract recruitment team regularly help like-minded working holidaymakers through the process of finding accounting roles.

Contact our team of accounting recruitment experts today, either before you travel or when you arrive - we'd love to help you.