Australia and the Pacific

The Perfect Travel Job (*Secret*)- Highly Paid Professional Work That Even You Can Get

      • What’s the job? How can I find the perfect travel job for backpackers?

No sweating over a harvest- this is where the real travel work is at! Plus it’s perfect for a temp or working holiday visa as there’s zero commitment. The official title is Academic Support Worker, sometimes called a scribe or an electronic note-taker which sounds fancy, but the work is relatively easy, fun and requires very few formal qualifications-the ideal travel job!

What’s involved?

You’re paid by the government as part of programme to make class a level playing field for all the students- those with a disability and those without, so you have a real sense of satisfaction in what you do. In real terms, you need to be at the class, meet the student and spend the period they are in class and support them until it ends. The work is  very doable however especially for backpackers and doesn’t require personal care:

~ You might be in a science class doing the physical work of lab experiments
~ You might be in a lecture taking notes for students who are hard of hearing
~ You might be reading aloud to a student with sight difficulties
~ You might be helping a wheelchair user access the facilities and make friends

    Sounds great, what certificates will I need?

Astonishingly, very little, especially if you work in university classes. God knows, I have no disability or medical qualifications. The clients you work with are adults studying at a high level so naturally requiring only the lowest level of support. In Ye Olde England I did this job with no formal qualifications, just some volunteering experience. In Australia, I needed only a Working with Children Check to confirm I didn’t have any dodgy criminal history and basic first aid certificate. You’ll need to be fluent in the language of the class e.g. if you speak Spanish, you’ll need to work in Spanish language classes. What’s more important is your personality and willingness to learn, that’s why I’ve dubbed this the perfect travel job for backpackers.

    What’s to like?

A touching bond with your students, they can be amazing characters- I spent weeks obsessing over One Direction with one Literature student
The work is MEGA casual, they’ll just call you up and tell you when they need you. I averaged a steady 10 hours a week but I could cancel any time if I wanted and also you get all of the university holidays off.
excellent pay- you get professional temp rates, so in the UK I had 13 pounds/hour plus holiday and in Oz average $25 per hour.

    But you gotta take the rough with the smooth?

Some weeks there won’t be much income as the work is so casual, so make sure to plan ahead.
The other snag is how difficult these openings can be to find- months of Googling brought me no joy even though I knew what role I wanted.
Luckily I’ve done the hard work for you, so keep reading to find the perfect travel job abroad.

Drinks cocktails Perfect travel job for backpackers
How do I get it?

Go direct to each university wherever you are. Even if it’s not the start of term, you can be a stand-in for when another support worker calls in sick- as a traveller you’ll love the casual work and the chance to sleep in most mornings.
I recommend universities rather than schools, far fewer regulations and red tape to get through with adult clients.

So call the uni and ask for their disability department, then say you’re looking for the Academic Support Worker jobs. You’ll see they don’t advertise them on their websites and not many people know such a thing even exists. Explain your knowledge of different subjects, even if it’s just as a hobby and relate it to what they might be looking for. They’ll either call you in for a meeting or they might hire exclusively through an agency. Either way talk up your flexibility and broad availability.

Ask for all the agencies they work with and register with those as well- they’re hard to find on Google unless you know the agency name.

The perfect travel job for backpackers- Academic Support Worker

If you like it then you shoulda put a pin on it!

Sit back and wait for the shifts to role in! See what I mean? The perfect travel job abroad!

PS: Are you a backpacker in Australia keen to do this on your Working Holiday Visa? I’ve got all the best tips on prepping before you leave home to make sure you land a job quickly!

Image credit: CC mshehan @ Flickr all rights reserved.



  1. Lisa (Klipdrifters)

    August 23, 2016 at 5:40 am

    This job sounds amazing, admitting it’s the first time I have heard of an Academic Support Worker. Maybe a bit of a mix between a teacher, an aupair and a social worker? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Danni Lawson

      February 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Thanks, Lisa, I guess it could be described like that. I work in this job right now and I love it, but I prefer to only work with adults- so not too much au pairing for me 🙂

  2. Ajay Sood

    August 25, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Interesting, lesser-known opportunity! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sumti Bhadani

    August 26, 2016 at 2:57 am

    Sounds amazing & something different. Never head of this but enjoyed reading it 🙂

  4. Shobha

    August 28, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Great idea! I know in the UK, they also have academic support workers for kids in schools too. That might be a more regular commitment than you are looking for though.

  5. Rob

    August 31, 2016 at 12:45 am

    That is fascinating! I do remember many people with this role as I went through school, but never thought of what it allowed them to do! How awesome to use a job as a tool for travel/relocation!

  6. Ami

    August 31, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Now that is an interesting aspect, never thought of it and that too, for a good cause. Thanks for sharing this. Am sure a lot of people will benefit from it.

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