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A Guide to Working as an Accounting Backpacker in Sydney

A Guide to Working as an Accounting Backpacker in Sydney

by David Landau

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So, you’ve got a few years’ experience under your belt working in the accounting sector but you’re struggling to contain your travel bug. Lucky for you, accounting is a skill that you can use when on your travels and could be the ideal solution to your wanderlust when backpacking through Sydney. To help you make an informed decision about whether this is the right move for you, we have put together a guide to living and working as a backpacker in this great city’s accounting sector.

Why Sydney?

To most the answer to this is reasonably obvious, but in case it’s not; Sydney is the biggest and most diverse city in Australia, has ‘mostly’ good weather year-round (although be prepared for the extremes) and is Australia’s backpacker hub. Because of this, Sydney is the ideal place from which to explore the rest of the country.

Accounting Job Opportunities

As Australia’s biggest business centre, a large percentage of all international firms choose Sydney as their regional hub, leading to excellent corporate opportunities. In addition, Sydney has a large public sector presence and a brilliant start-up environment. With so many different options, finding the right company for you is easier here than anywhere else in Australia.

Because backpacking is such a common occurrence in Sydney, most employers are used to having short-term accounting professionals in their teams. Backpackers are often brought in to meet seasonal demands or simply to fill workforce gaps. The length of contract can vary, from days to months, but always within the constraints of your visa. It’s important to note that every employer will expect you to complete the full length of the assignment. So it can be a good idea to complete one assignment, explore Australia for a few weeks then come back and top up your travel funds again with another assignment.

In-demand skill sets are generally any degree qualified accountants with two to eight years’ commercial experience. CA, CPA, ACCA or CIMA qualifications are helpful, but not essential to work in Australia. Typical backpacker jobs include: Financial and Management Accountant, Payroll Officer, AR/Collections Officer, Accounts Payable Officer, Bookkeeper, and Assistant Accountant.

Work Visas

Most backpackers are eligible for the Australian “Working Holiday Maker Program”, which is generally open to people aged 18-30 who are citizens of an eligible partner country. The application process when compared to other visas is relatively simple. For further information, please click here. If you aren’t eligible for a working holiday visa there are other options available, which can be found on the Australian Immigration website.

Work Culture

Working in Sydney is not unlike most other major cities around the world; professionalism, punctuality, presentation etc. are still just as important for the transient worker. Even though all of your personal belongings may fit in a ‘rucksack’ and may not include business attire, the Sydney accounting sector is professional. Finding a business suit for your interviews and subsequent jobs should be one of your first priorities when thinking about finding work; first impressions do count. Business hours are generally 8.30am/9am to 5/5.30pm, however can be longer due to accounting deadlines. Despite the famous (stereotype of a) laid back Australian work culture, hard work is still an expectation.

Pay & Taxes

Pay rates range depending on your experience and particular skill-set, but suffice 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 will need to apply for a Tax File Number. Australia has new Backpacker tax laws which mean you’ll only pay $0.15 for every $1.00 you earn – for more details on the most recent developments click here. Irrespective of your visa, assuming you meet certain criteria, you will also be eligible for superannuation. If you’d like to find out specific pay rates for your skill-set please get in touch with one of our specialist accounting recruiters.

Accommodation, Transport, Banking & Healthcare

As a backpacking hub, there are a broad range of accommodation options available in Sydney; from long term backpacker hostels through to shared rentals with similar minded business professionals.

Travel is relatively simple. Sydney has a great rail network, regular buses and ferries (yes, you can commute by ferry) and a large tram network is currently being built. To use the public transport network, you will need to have an ‘Opal’ card, similar to other transport systems around the world where cash is no longer an option.

As you’d expect, there are a large number of banks, some of which also have offices overseas. Applying for an account is fairly straightforward providing you have identification and a verifiable Sydney address.

Medicare is the national health system and the benefits vary depending on your country of residence. It is important to register with Medicare when you first arrive if eligible. Go to the Medicare website to find out more details.

Getting Started

If you’re keen to find out more about the accounting opportunities that exist for backpackers, then you’re in the right place. Our recruiters regularly help like-minded working travellers through the process of finding work, from the early planning stages to your first day at your new Sydney job. Click here to contact one of our team, before you travel or when you arrive; it doesn’t matter.

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