Recognition of foreign qualifications has been a problem in Australia for some time. Migrant professionals who arrive with high-level credentials, such as MBAs and PhDs, often don't have them recognised. The goverment recognised you have a degree and accepted your work experience in order to give you a visa. However, you arrive in Australia and are shocked to learn you cannot work in your field. To avoid this issue, get your credentials assessed as soon as possible.
Getting your tertiary qualifications recognised in Australia
To have your tertiary academic qualifications officially recognised by Australian employers you may want to use a credential evaluation service. It might also be necessary to have your credentials evaluated if you want to study in Australia or get further training. Credential evaluation is a process that compares your level of education to those of the Australian system.
The Federal Government body, Australian Education International National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (AEI NOOSR), is the official authority for credential evaluation. This is a fee-based service for permanent residents or New Zealand residents, which can take up to 3 months.
AEI NOOSR evaluations are not for entry to Australian tertiary institutions. The individual universities or colleges do their own assessments. AEI NOOSR records are not recognised for migration purposes either.
The evaluations are done on tertiary education (post secondary/high school) records only. They will not be done on school records, professional licences, work records, or incomplete study.
School records can be assessed by the education department in your state or territory.
But what exactly should you have evaluated and when? Before just randomly getting an evaluation done, consider a few things.
Qualification assessments for licensed professions
If your occupation is licensed, such as medicine, law, teaching, or engineering, make contact with the regulatory body in your Australian state or territory before having your qualifications evaluated. They will tell you what is required to for assessment.
Refer to Skills Recognition Australia for information on contacting the relevant body for your profession.
Qualification assessments for unlicensed professions
Unless you have to retrain or get re-licensed to work in your field, qualification evaluation is not necessary. Many employers in your industry may not even be aware of this service.
However, if a company is unwilling to hire you because they don't understand how your qualifications compare to those in Australia, a report that explains the differences might help convince them otherwise.
Recognition of foreign qualifications has been a problem in Australia for some time. Migrant professionals who arrive with high-level credentials, such as MBAs and PhDs, often don't have them recognised.
They might then face re-training to get a job equivalent to the one they held in their country of origin. Some are told they are 'overqualified' when applying for lower level jobs than they held back home.
Licensed professionals often encounter the most difficulty. Migrants in professions that are licensed in Australia (e.g. doctors, engineers, teachers, accountants, pharmacists) must get re-licensed before they can work, which means re-training and examinations.
Government financial assistance for re-training is available for foreign-trained permanent residents and New Zealand citizens under the Assessment Subsidy for Overseas Trained Professionals Program (ASDOT).
Resources for skilled migrants
An excellent resource for help is the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website's section Australian Skills Recognition Information (ASRI). It offers advice on getting skills assessed for a range of occupations. The ASRI site provides the contact details of the Overseas Qualifications Units in each state and territory of Australia.
Other profession-specific resources for migrants include:
EDUCATION: The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) - for migrants with overseas qualifications as early-childhood, primary and secondary teachers.
ENGINEERING: Engineers Australia - for civil and structural engineers.
ACCOUNTING: CPA Australia - for financial accounting occupations.
DENTAL: Australian Dental Council - for dental practitioners
SOCIAL /WELFARE WORK: Australian Association of Social Workers - for social and welfare workers.
AVIATION: Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) - for aircraft pilots
ARCHITECTURE: Architects Accreditation Council of Australia - for architects
If you are in a field that does not require a licence, e.g. a business manager, human resource manager or even a semi-skilled worker, you won't need re-training and re-examination with a professional certification body. However, you may still face challenges. You might want to consider getting some additional Australian schooling or professional development to improve your chances of getting a job.
You might also want to research some associations and clubs in your industry. Joining these associations can be a great help in developing a network of professional contacts and a source of useful, industry specific advice.