You may have heard that becoming a Nurse can be an easy pathway to live and work in Australia? Whilst this may be true, it is not as quick and easy as maybe you are hoping for. Australia has a points-tested visa system, in which applicants must meet the minimum score to be able to apply for a PR.  

Your points will be calculated based on your age, qualifications, English language ability, experience, along with a number of other deciding factors. If you lack work experience in Nursing, studying in Australia is the best option to become a Permanent Resident and later on an Australian citizen. 

Why study nursing in Australia?

  • Australian university reputation for nursing  

Australia is one of the most favourite destinations for international students to study nursing due to its compelling reputation for high-quality nursing courses. It is not surprising that Australia has 10 universities ranked in the top 50 best schools for nursing education, and that the Bachelor of Nursing programs in Australia are internationally recognised in many developed countries, across Europe (e.g, United Kingdom, Switzerland), Middle East, South Africa, New Zealand and the USA. Graduates will have various opportunities to travel and work overseas after studying and becoming a registered nurse in Australia.  

  • Diverse employment opportunities 

Health care is Australia’s biggest employing industry, with over 1.8 million people being employed in 2021. The workforce required for this booming occupation can exceed 2 million by 2025. As Australia is home of ageing population, it is anticipated that the demand for nursing will continue growing strongly in the next coming decades. By 2040, up to 20 percent of Australian will be over the age of 65 and around 1.2 million Australian residents will be over the age of 85.  Contrary to this trend, appropriately 20% of nurses in Australia will reach the age of retirement. The combination of these circumstances makes nursing one of the highest demand jobs in Australia.   

  • Stay longer in Australia post-graduation  

Due to the high demand for Registered nurses and that for other sectors of nursing, these occupations are consistently listed on the skilled list. If students successfully graduate from a Bachelor of Nursing, and pass the skill assessment for Registered Nurse, it is relatively easy for them to apply for permanent residence visas. The below table clearly demonstrates that Australia is in urgent need for skilled Registered Nurse immigrants. 

What are career outcomes after graduation from nursing courses?

Completing nursing course provides international students with various employment opportunities working in Australia and overseas, in general and specialist areas. The job outcomes depend on what course you have completed.  

  • Assistant in nursing (AIN) 

This is the entry level of nursing, with the average payment of $24 per hour. The main role of AIN is to assist with patients care, for example, helping them mobilise/reposition and practice personal hygiene needs. AINs are also responsible for restocking and looking after medical equipment. 

To become an AIN, you only need to complete a Certificate III in aged care, or prove that you are attending current studies towards enrolled nurse and registered nurse qualifications.  

  • Enrolled nurse (EN) 

Enrolled nurse is the second level of nursing, working under supervision of a registered nurse. They will get involved in patient care, but their roles are different from AINs in that they are able to measure patients’ temperature and blood pressure. However, enrolled nurses are not allowed to handle injections/drugs and not allowed to work independently.  

The foremost requirement for becoming a enrolled nurse is you must have completed a Diploma of Nursing (enrolled division).  

  • Registered nurse (RN) 

Registered nurse is an independent nurse, requiring a high level of accountability and responsibility. They involve in complex and specialised nursing care, medication administration, assessment and management of patients’ medical status. Different from AINs and ENs, registered nurses can work alone and can make decisions on treatments.  

To become a registered nurse, the course that international students must complete is either Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing), or Bachelor of Nursing, or Master of Nursing (Pre-registration).   

What nursing courses are available for international students in Australia?

  • Diploma of nursing in Australia for international students 

It will take you only 1 or 1.5 years to finish a Diploma in nursing. The name of the courses may vary depending on each school: Diploma of Nursing, Diploma of Health Care or Diploma of Health Science (Nursing), but the expected career outcome is the same as graduates will be qualified as an enrolled nurse in Australia.  

  • Diploma of Nursing + Bachelor of Nursing  

You can study a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE or other colleges and then enter the second year of a Bachelor of Nursing at any University of your choice (some of our key partners include Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology). After completing this package, you can register and work as a Registered Nurse. This option, therefore, is ideal for international students who are willing to attend a Bachelor of Nursing but have not met all entry requirements for this level. And graduates from eligible Diploma of Nursing programs could start to work as an Enrolled Nurse while they are completing their Bachelor studies. 

  • Bachelor of Nursing  

A third option is you can start studying at the University of your preference right away on a 3-year bachelor’s degree. You can become a registered nurse if you have completed this course.  

  • Bachelor of nursing (Graduate Entry Program)  

This option is for you if you already have completed a bachelor’s degree in any field, and you only need to spend 2 years to complete this course. For nursing background students, the nurse registration certificate is required.  

  • Master of Nursing (Pre-registration)  

This course is best for international students who have already completed a Bachelor and would like to become a registered nurse in Australia.  

  • Master of Nursing (Post-registration) 

If you are already a Registered Nurse in Australia but wish to expand your knowledge in specialised fields such as Intensive Care Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Aged Care Nursing, Critical Care, and Emergency Nursing, this course is for you.  

What are entry requirements for international students to study nursing courses in Australia?

To study Diploma of Nursing in Australia international students must have completed Year 12 or equivalent. Because nursing occupation relates to human health, the English score required for nursing courses is often higher than other occupations. International students must obtain IELTS 7.0 with no band score under 7.0 to be able to apply for a nursing course. However, some schools still encourage students who have not achieved 7.0 IELTS to attend. For instance, in Griffith College and QUT College, Diploma of Health Care/Diploma of Health Science only requires a 6.5 IELTS. 

For Bachelor programs, international students normally have to obtain a IELTLS 7.0 and have completed Year 12 or a Diploma of Nursing. If you already hold at least one bachelor (in any field) and achieve a IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, you have two study options, either Bachelor (Graduate Entry Program) or Master of nursing (pre-registration).  

How much does it cost to study nursing courses in Australia?

The costs for studying nursing in Australia vary depending on the level of study and the institution you attend. For a Diploma of Nursing, the tuition fees only range from AU$24,000 to $33,000 while the fee for the 3-year Bachelor program is much higher, around $109,000. Interestingly, if you choose the package of Diploma plus Bachelor of Nursing, the amount you must pay is approximately 97,000 which is cheaper than studying Bachelor of Nursing directly.  

At the postgraduate level, the annual indicative fee for nursing students is typically between AU$35,000 and $45,000 per year. While the tuition fee for nursing courses is relatively affordable, the expected salary postgraduation is way higher than other occupations. Universities also provide multiple scholarships to support international students, which makes nursing one of the most popular courses chosen in Australia.  

To learn more which scholarship is available, please fill in the enquiry form! Our team will offer you free counselling and free application process!  

How to become a registered nurse in Australia?

Step 1: Study Bachelor or Master of Nursing in Australi 

For international students, the easiest and fastest way to become a registered nurse in Australia is to take a nursing course here. However, bear in mind that you must have completed at least a Bachelor of Nursing to be eligible for nursing registration. If you finish a Diploma of Nursing, you can become an enrolled nurse only.  

Step 2: Register as a registered nurse in Australia  

The authority to assess your registration is Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). You must meet the following requirements to be considered as a registered nurse:  

  • Passing the Australian Federal Police Check 

You can apply for a Police Check via this website. The checking fee is only $42.  

  • Passing the English language skills test  

There are two options for you to satisfy the English requirement: (1) You have completed 5 years studying Tertiary and Secondary education in Australia, in which the length of tertiary study level must be at least two years, or (2) you achieve a IETLS 7.0 in every single band.  

It worth noting that if you cannot achieve the score of 7.0 in one single test, you can do a maximum of two test sittings in 6 months. Given you have achieved a minimum overall score of 7 in each sitting, AND you have achieved a minimum score of 7 in each component across the two sittings, AND you have no score below 6.5 in any section, you will meet the English requirement for nursing assessment.  

How to pass a skill assessment for a nurse in Australia?

To be able to apply for a PR in Australia, you must be a registered nurse and must complete a skills assessment with positive results. The authority to assess your application is ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council).  

Step 1: Successfully register as a Registered Nurse 

Step 2: Prepare all necessary documents  

  • Your ID document, usually your passport  
  • Qualifications: You need to submit (1) graduation certificates from all nursing qualifications and (2) transcripts of training. 
  • Evidence of work experience 

If you are a recent graduate and your only qualification is from Australian institutes, professional references are not required. However, if you are not a recent graduate, you must submit a professional reference to show that you have got a minimum of 3 months’ paid work experience, equivalent to at least 494 hours.  

  • Evidence of English proficiency: 

The English requirement of a skills assessment is similar to that of a nursing registration, which is IELTS 7.0 for every single band score. If you already are a registered nurse, you are likely to meet the English score for the skills assessment. The only thing you should pay attention is the expiry date of your English test results.  

Step 3: Submit online visa ANMAC website  

After accumulating all necessary documents, you can submit your application via ANMAC website. The skills assessment fee is $340.00. 

Migration to Australia as a nurse – what is the pathway?

After completing a Bachelor or Master of Nursing in a university in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, you will be eligible to apply for a 485 visa to stay 2-4 years in Australia. However, if you undertook and completed at least  2 years of study in a ‘Regional Area’ such as the Gold Coast and Adelaide, you can be eligible for an additional 1 or 2 years of the 485 Visa. After visa 485, you will have great potential to become a permanent resident with many visa options – Subclass 189, 190 and 191. 

These visa subclasses require you to have a minimum of 65 points under the Skilled Migration Point Test. The more points you can achieve, the higher chance you can get a visa invitation. Unlike the visa 189, you must have a state/territory nomination to be eligible for a 190 visa and you must study, live and work in regional areas to apply for a 191 visa.  

Want to migrate to Australia as a registered nurse? Please follow 3 steps below:  

  • Hold a recognised Nursing qualification. 
  • Obtain a positive Australian skills assessment for Registered Nurses. 
  • Lodge an expression of interest (EOI) and wait for an Invitation from the Department of Home Affairs or State Government before you are eligible to apply for the Visa. 

Would you like to know more about the PR Pathway for a Registered Nurse? Please contact our Registered Migration Agent for a Free Eligibility Check! 


I can’t meet the English requirements for a nursing bachelor course, what should I do?

To enter a Bachelor of Nursing Course, you must obtain a IETLS 7.0 with no band score under 7.0. If you do not satisfy it, you still have two options to choose.  

  • Study the package – Diploma and Bachelor of Nursing:  

Some universities offer international students with a package that combines Diploma (in any field) and Bachelor of Nursing, for example Queensland University of Technology and the Griffith University. English requirement for Diploma courses is normally lower than a Bachelor, so if you have not obtained a IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, you can apply for a Diploma. After having completed a 2-year Diploma course, your English skills may increase a lot and you may be able to get the required English score for a Bachelor of Nursing.  

  • Take two IELTS tests within 6 months:  

You can combine the results of these two tests to prove your English skills. If you have achieved a minimum overall score of 7 in each sitting, AND you have achieved a minimum score of 7 in each component across the two sittings, AND you have no score below 6.5 in any section, you will meet the English requirement for nursing study. 

Can I enter a nursing course without any background?

Yes, you can enroll in a Diploma or Bachelor of Nursing without any nursing background. For the master degree level, some universities do not require a nursing background such as Queensland University of Technology (QUT); however, others may ask you to show evidence of nursing related study. Contact our expert team for more information on course requirements.  

What course should I study? Bachelor of Nursing (Graduate Entry) or Master of Nursing?

Both Bachelor and Master of Nursing can lead to a registered nurse. The difference between them is that international students without background of nursing can enrol in Bachelor of Nursing (Graduate Entry) while in many cases you are required to have nursing background to apply for a Master of Nursing. If you want to know what schools accept students without nursing background to study the master level, contact us!  

In terms of visa options, after graduating from Bachelor of Nursing, you can apply for a 485 visa to stay in Australia 2 more years (or 3 years if you have completed your Bachelor in regional areas). However, after graduating from a Master of Nursing, you can stay up to 3 years (or 4 years if you chose to study in regional Australia).  

What are the benefits if I study nursing courses in regional Australia?

If you study Bachelor or Master courses in a regional campus or university, you will be added 5 points for your PR applications.  

With the postgraduate visa – subclass 485, studying in a regional area will give you extra one or two years living in Australia.  

  • The normal 485 visa duration for a bachelor graduate is 2 years. However, you will be able to stay and work in Australia up to 3 years if you finish your Bachelor in regional areas category 1 (e.g., Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast), and up to 4 years if you have completed your Bachelor in regional areas category 2 (e.g., Toowoomba, Gatton). 
  • The normal 485 visa duration for a master’s degree graduate is 3 years. However, you can stay in Australia up to 4 years after completing your course in regional areas category 1, and up to 5 years after graduation from an university in regional areas category 2.  

What are differences between enrolled nurses (EN) and registered nurses (RN)?

  Enrolled Nurses   Registered Nurses  
Qualification   Diploma of Nursing   Bachelor or Master of Nursing  
Occupation list   Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)  Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLSSL) 
Visa option after graduation   Subclass 490, 491, 482, 494  Permanent visas – Subclass 189, 190, 491 


What are the PR points for nursing?

In 2022, the PR nursing points score is minimum of 65 for subclasses 189, 190 and 491. However, these points are subject to change every year.

What is the salary of a registered nurse in Australia?

The average hourly pay for a Registered Nurse (RN) is $33.52 (Annual Salary: $64,734). Generally, your salary will be increased with each increasing year of experience. If you pursue a specialised or senior positions, the average salaries will fall between $105,000 and $130,000 per year.  

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