There has never been a better time to pursue a career as a primary school teacher in Australia. There are plenty of jobs on offer in every part of the country, plus many regional schools are offering teachers financial benefits and targeted incentives such as rental subsidies, additional paid leave, bonus payments, and stamp duty relief. At the same time, there is a growing number of university scholarships that reduce education costs for teaching students.

How primary school education works in Australia

Primary school education in Australia is a state-based system, and registered teachers work with students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 (i.e. kids typically aged from 5-11 years). They deliver lessons in 7 key areas according to the school curriculum, which is administered by the state/territory government education body.

The 7 learning/delivery areas for Australian primary teachers are:

  1. English
  2. Maths
  3. Science and technology
  4. Human society and its environment
  5. Creative and practical arts
  6. Health and physical education
  7. Personal development

However, some primary school teachers gain additional qualifications so they can deliver specialist programmes in foreign languages, music, and the arts.

In many ways, primary school teachers have the most important job in the world — supporting the social development, emotional intelligence, foundational knowledge, and self-confidence of Australia’s emerging generation.

There’s certainly a great deal of satisfaction when you establish real connections with your students, and you see them growing and expanding their minds right before your eyes.

But it’s not always easy.

Primary school-age children are, in the words of one highly seasoned teacher, “fun, challenging, difficult, hilarious, exhausting, delightful, frustrating and everything in between”.

Is it the career path for you? Let’s take a look at how to become a primary school teacher.

Step-by-step to a teaching career

In Australia, all primary school teachers must hold an approved bachelor’s degree that includes practical placements in each year of study. Education degrees generally take 4 years to complete, you’ll then need to register with a state government authority.

The process involves:

  • Education — complete a Bachelor of Education OR specialist bachelor’s degree (music, fine art, information technology etc) + Master of Teaching (Primary).
  • Administration — obtain a Working With Children Certificate (WWCC) and national police clearance (NPC), plus other state government requirements.
  • Registration — in the final year of study, apply for registration with the education authority in your state or territory.
  • Apply for jobs — after your registration is approved, you can begin applying for teaching jobs.

DID YOU KNOW? If you want to move interstate, you can transfer your registration to another education authority. However, you cannot have concurrent registrations.

Other alternatives to teaching

If you don’t feel ready to commit to four years of university and unpaid work placement, another alternative is gaining a VET qualification in Education Support.

With a Certificate III in School-based Education Support or Certificate IV in School-based Education Support, in just 6-12 months you can become a fully paid Teacher’s Aid, Learning Support Officer, or Teaching Assistant.

The significant shortage of Australian primary school teachers right now has created a growing demand for qualified Teacher’s Aids to assist in the classroom and Education Aids to assist with non-teaching duties.

Some advantages of completing VET education support courses include:

  • No need to commit to an expensive 4-year degree -- VET qualifications can be completed in as little as 6-12 months.
  • Start working as soon as you graduate.
  • Opportunity to see if you like working at primary schools and with young kids.
  • VET qualifications in education support are a direct pathway to the Bachelor of Education.

Whether you complete a bachelor’s degree and become a fully qualified primary teacher or obtain a VET qualification in School-based Education Support, you are on an exciting career path that makes a big difference in the lives of Australian children — helping to define their future dreams and unlock their infinite potential.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and creative. When she’s not writing she works with marginalised kids in the Philippines, supporting their social and emotional wellbeing. You can find out more at