social worker emigrating to australia-min
  • Are you a qualified Social Worker?
  • Fluent in English?
  • Under 45 years of age?

Then emigrating to Australia could well be an option for you! Continue reading to learn:

  • How to emigrate as a Social Worker.
  • Whether you meet the qualifying critieria.
  • What process you need to follow.

Let's start with the basics......

Introducing ANZSCO

ANZSCO is the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations and its where we are going to start our emigration explanation.

ANZSCO publish the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List ( MLTSSL). This is the list of occupations that Australia needs to fill market labour gaps. In other words these featured occupations are the ones that Australia want to attract from abroad as they do not have enough Australians to fill all the vacancies.

It's an exclusive club with only 178 occupations currently listed on it. If yours is not one of the 178 then sorry but skilled independent emigration to Australia is not going to happen for you.

anzsco social workers emigrating-min

The good news is Social Workers do feature on the MLTSSL.

So Social Workers are therefore an eligible occupation. But... not all social workers are the same and Australia want to ensure that as a Social Worker from abroad you meet the same standards that Australian Social Workers do. They do this by assigning each occupation a code, a skill level and also an assessing authority. In short don't think just because your job title is that of as Social Worker you qualify.

We now have to go into a lot more detail to ensure you meet the ANZSCO criteria.

Learn here about the ANZSCO code

social worker australia anzsco codeThe ANZSCO code assigned to Social Workers is 272511. This code carries provides us with further details as to the criteria Social Workers must meet in order to qualify to emigrate to Australia.

The first thing we look at is the group that Social Workers fall under. In this case:

Major Group: 2 - Professionals | Sub-Major Group: 27 - Legal, Social and Welfare Professionals | Minor Group: 272 - Social and Welfare Professionals | Unit Group: 2725 - Social Workers.

As you can see there are 4 groups showing how the code is made up – we are mostly interested in the code 272511 which is specific to Social Workers.

This part of the ANZSCO criteria lays out a broad description of what a Social Worker is supposed to be able to do:

Assesses the social needs of individuals, families and groups, assists and empowers people to develop and use the skills and resources needed to resolve social and other problems, and furthers human well being and human rights, social justice and social development. Registration or licensing may be required. If this criteria is met then we move on to the skill level.

social worker australia skill levelSocial Workers (along with most occupations in this unit group) need to have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification.

The specified skill level is Skill Level 1. Aside from the qualification relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required. Registration or licensing will also be required.

We can look a little deeper into the task that a Social Worker emigrating to Australia is expected to have experience in / be able to perform.

When an application for emigration is made, the candidate, in this case as a Social Worker must be able to demonstrate / prove that they can carry out the majority of the below tasks:

  • Acting as a facilitator between clients in need and community services
  • Assessing resources for health, welfare, recreation, housing, employment and other community services
  • Providing leadership and assistance for the implementation of pilot projects in community development and self-help, and planning and implementing research projects to address client needs, organisation goals and social policy
  • Cooperating with community organisations, social agencies and voluntary groups to improve services and develop new services
  • Conducting individual and family case interviews to identify the nature and extent of clients' problems
  • Assisting clients to understand and resolve problems by providing information, acting as a mediator and referring them to community and self-help agencies
  • Analysing, developing, promoting and implementing social policies through the use of practice experience, research, analytic frameworks, and negotiation skills to respond to social need through a fair, equitable and effective allocation of social resources
  • Monitoring the progress of clients by maintaining contact
  • Compiling case records and reports

social worker australia important information

  1. Unless (and as your reading this it is pretty unlikely) you qualified in New Zealand or Australia your qualification means nothing at this stage.
  2. That registration or licensing is required – in other words you can't just pitch up in Australia and start working.
  3. That the Australian emigration authorities are not simply going to take your word for it - they want to ensure you meet the criteria and therefore will require you to be formally assessed.


social worker australia job adviceThe rationale of many people is to first seek a job in Australia. Whilst this can be understood due to the security of employment in Australia making the process of emigration seem less daunting, it is not the way to go.

At this stage you would be applying as an  'unqualified' applicant who in Australia is not licensed to carry out the role you are applying for.

This does not make you a very attractive proposition to any Australian employer.

So rule number one is simple first get your qualification assessed and get licensed before applying for any position.

Want to know if you're eligible to emigrate to Australia as a social worker?

Useful links

PART 1 – Age

18 – 25


25 – 32


32 – 39


40 – 44


45 – 49


As you can see a social worker who fits into the 25 to 32 age bracket can achieve as much as 50% of the required 65 points.

PART 2 – English language

Superior English - IELTS 8 or more in all 4 components or OET ‘A pass’


Proficient English - IELTS 7 or more in all 4 components or OET ‘B pass’


Threshold English: Competent English (IELTS 6 or more in all 4 components or certain passport holders)


The English language test is very important in scoring points. As you can see it can be as much as 20 points but be warned if you are not a native speaker it can be a challenge.

PART 3 – Overseas employment experience

36 months (3 years) in the last 10 years


60 months (5 years) in the last 10 years


96 months (8 years) in the last 10 years


Overseas means employment not in Australia and as per the table above we are looking for at least 3 years in your occupation as a social worker to make emigration to Australia possible.

PART 4 – Australian employment experience

Points are available if an applicant has worked in Australia in their nominated occupation or closely related skilled occupation as follows:



1 year 5
3 years 10
5 years 15
8 years 20

Note that a maximum of 20 points can be awarded for a combination of Australian and overseas work experience.

PART 5 – Australian professional year

5 points are awarded if you have completed a professional year in Australia, in your nominated occupation as an electrician or closely related occupation.

PART 6 – Educational qualifications

Points are awarded for the completion of qualifications either through an Australian educational institution or an overseas qualification for which the Minister is satisfied is of a recognised standard:

Doctorate (PhD) – Australian institution or recognised overseas institution


Bachelor degree or higher – Australian institution or recognised overseas institution


Diploma – Australian institution


Trade certificate – Australian institution


Qualification or award recognised by the relevant assessing authority for the applicant’s nominated occupation


Applicants only receive points for their highest single qualification – it is not possible to claim points for more than one qualification under this part.

PART 7 – Australian study

Applicants who have met the two-year Australian study requirement can obtain 5 points.

PART 8 – Credentialed community language

NAATI-accredited translators and interpreters at the paraprofessional (level 2) or higher are eligible for 5 points. A list of languages is not specified, so by implication any language assessed by NAATI at the paraprofessional level or higher should be acceptable.

PART 9 – Study in a regional or low-population growth metropolitan area of Australia

Criteria are:

  • Applicant meets the 2-year Australian study requirement;

  • Studies were conducted at a campus in regional Australia or a low-population growth metropolitan area;

  • Applicant lived in in regional Australia or a low-population growth metropolitan area  during the study;

  • None of the studies was via distance education.

The relevant regional areas are all parts of Australia, excluding: greater Brisbane area, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne metropolitan area, Perth and surrounding areas and the Australian Capital Territory.

PART 10 – Partner skill

Applicant’s spouse or defacto partner:

  • Is an applicant for the same GSM visa subclass;

  • Is not an Australian permanent resident or citizen;

  • Was under the age of 45 at the time of invitation to apply for the visa;

  • Nominated a skilled occupation at the time of invitation to apply for the visa;

  • Had a suitable skills assessment in their occupation at time of invitation to apply for the visa; and

  • Had competent English at the time of invitation to apply for the visa.

PART 11 – State or Territory nomination

One way of gaining extra points as a social worker seeking to emigrate to Australia is to look at state or territory nomination. Whilst this commits you to living in a certain state for or territory for 2 years it can mean those vital extra points are earned.

If you are able to look at the 190 visa option the following factors apply in order to gain 5 additional points.

  • The applicant has been invited to apply for the visa by a State or Territory government; and

  • The nomination has not been withdrawn by the State or Territory government.

If you are able to look at the 489 visa option the following factors apply in order to gain 10 additional points.

  • The applicant has been invited to apply for the visa by a State or Territory government; and

  • The nomination has  not been withdrawn by the State or Territory government.

  • The applicant has been sponsored by a relative usually resident in a designated area; and

  • The sponsorship has been accepted by the Minister.

Learn more about the assessment of your occupation

social worker australia assessing authority

If you are migrating to Australia and seeking recognition as a qualified social worker for employment purposes,  the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) will carry out your skills assessment.

On behalf of the Australian Government, they assess academic social work qualifications and post-qualifying employment by ranking your qualification against comparable AASW accredited Australian social work

There are two main assessments you may apply as a social worker:

  1. International Qualifications Assessment for migration purposes.
  2. International Qualifications Assessment for employment purposes in Australia (i.e. AASW membership eligibility) .

*NOTE - there is an optional additional assessment that covers post-qualifying social work experience . This is a Skilled Employment Assessment that can also be undertaken as part of an assessment for migration purposes,. This is important as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection may use to award additional points.


  • Applicants may apply for all, or a combination of, the above assessments using the one application form.
  • Applicants are required to meet ALL five criteria in order to receive a positive assessment. We cover these in the next tab.
  • Application for assessment for migration and employment (AASW membership eligibility) purposes can be made simultaneously for the one fee.
  • Applicants who receive a successful AASW membership eligibility assessment after 1 July 2013 are eligible for free AASW membership for the remainder of the Australian financial year (which runs from 1 July through to 30 June) in which their assessment was undertaken, and the reduced fee for 2 years from the date of their assessment outcome.
  • An additional fee applies for Skilled Employment Assessment.

Using five assessment criteria, the AASW assesses the level at which your overseas qualifications are comparable to an AASW accredited social work qualification.

Applicants are required to meet ALL five criteria in order to receive a positive assessment:

  • Criterion 1: Your qualification must be a specific qualification in social work.
  • Criterion 2: Your qualification must be regarded as a professional social work qualification in your country of training.
  • Criterion 3: The learning outcomes of the professional social work qualification should be comparable to the learning outcomes that graduates of AASW accredited social work qualifications must demonstrate.
  • Criterion 4: You must have completed at least 980 hours of field education in at least two field placements and with two contrasting practice foci, where at least one placement was in direct practice.
  • Criterion 5: You will need high level English language skills.

When you are applying for an AASW assessment for migration and/or employment purposes you must prove your English language proficiency. This requires:

  • A minimum score of 7.0 or higher in EACH component (listening, reading, writing and speaking), in one sitting of the Academic IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test.
  • You must have got these test results within three years of submitting for an AASW qualification assessment

If you can meet the exemptions below then this may not be required

  • You have completed all secondary education, that was taught and assessed in English, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom or United States of America, AND;
  • Successfully completed (with a pass grade or higher) the equivalent of three years or more full-time tertiary study (at Bachelor Degree level or higher), that was taught and assessed in English, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom or United States of America.

Note the  AASW reserves the right to ask an applicant to take the Academic IELTS examination if there is uncertainty about their level of English proficiency.

Before you go through the assessment process you need to be aware that it is not inexpensive. You should always first be formally assessed by a licensed immigration agent (such as ourselves) and receive a recommendation that:

  • Is clear in its recommendations;
  • Confirms you can meet all the requirements;
  • Outlines all the costs;
  • Is in writing with a defined step by step process.

Getting it wrong could cost you a lot of money as well as damage your application.

More about the basic requirements

social worker australia health requirementsAll applicants for permanent and provisional visas including the main applicant, spouse and any members of the family unit must be assessed against the health requirement. In addition, in certain circumstances, family members who are not applying for the visa (non-migrating family members) will be assessed against the health requirement.

The department or the migration medical services provider will then decide whether or not you meet the health requirement based on your completed health examination reports.

Everyone who wants to enter Australia must be of good character and will be assessed against the character requirements. As part of your visa application, you might be required to provide a police clearance certificate or other evidence to satisfy the character requirements.

  • You will not pass the character test if:

    • you have a substantial criminal record, meaning you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, or multiple sentences that add up to more than 12 months in prison. A suspended sentence is considered a prison sentence.

    • you have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence that you committed:

    • while you were in immigration detention,

    • during an escape from immigration detention,

    • after an escape, but before you were taken into immigration detention again.

  • You are or have been a member of a group or organisation, or had or have an association with a person, group or organisation that the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects of involvement in criminal conduct

  • The Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects that you have been involved in people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of serious international concern, whether or not you have been convicted of such an offence

  • Your past and present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character

  • There is a risk that while you are in Australia you would:

    • engage in criminal conduct,

    • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person,

    • vilify a segment of the Australian community,

    • incite discord in the Australian community or in a part of it,

    • be a danger to the Australian community or a part of it.

  • You have been convicted of, or found guilty or had a charge proven for one or more sexually based offences involving a child,

  • You are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

  • You are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community, or a segment of the Australian community.

social worker australia english requirementsAs a social worker seeking to emigrate to Australia you will need to have the minimum level of 7 in IELTS or equivalent.

Note here your immigration agent should be advising on which test will suit you best whether it be for example Pearsons or IELTS.

As covered above as a social worker seeking to emigrate to Australia you will be required to achieve a points score of at least 65. 

Here's how you should start

Important - there is no single right way to approach your emigration application process.

Depending on your own unique situation a tailored plan needs to be put in place as to what steps are taken and when. This maximizes your changes of success and reduces unnecessary costs.

For instance, let's assume your a native Afrikaans speaker - your English is okay. However you have not been in a test environment for a number of years, so it may be a daunting prospect in taking an English Language exam and having to score 7 out of 9 in 4 areas:

  1. Reading.
  2. Writing.
  3. Listening.
  4. Speaking.

In this case the advice would be to tick that one off before spending money on a skills assessment.

But maybe your English is superb and of no concern. Now the skills assessment can be done straight away.

The point? Each individual person needs a tailored migration plan that clearly outlines the process and costs associated with each step. Because getting it wrong can mean wasted expenditure and even a failed process.

This is how Intergate Emigration can help

Our team of licensed advisors can assess your eligibility to work in Australia - so that you know for sure if you can go ahead with your immigration.

If you meet the requirements to work in Australia as a social worker, our licensed advisors will discuss your visa options with you, work out a personalised immigration plan, and share the costs and process involved. 

If you choose to work with us, our advisors and our admin department will work with you to submit a complete visa application.

Ready? Click 'GET STARTED' below to get in touch with our team. 

Get your visa application right the first time with the assistance of our advisors