Different Types Of Nursing Careers In Australia

by Dr. Alan December 28, 2020

Healthcare is one of the top industries in Australia, now more than ever considering the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for nursing professionals, midwives, caretakers, and healthcare staff is skyrocketing.

So, if you aspire to have a career in nursing then be rest assured that there is no dearth of employment opportunities available. Nursing is a challenging yet emotionally fulfilling job. It gives you a chance to make people better and contribute to the welfare of the patients. 

Here are the different nursing careers for students in Australia that you can explore. You can apply for these positions after completing the initial registration process. Choose from the wide range of specializations to improve your job prospects.

With the pandemic hitting, there is a sudden need for nurses and healthcare professionals to take care of patients.

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse (RNs) holds a lot of authority and accountability when compared to the other nursing roles. The responsibilities of the RN are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Board. And the work permit and license are issued by the Nursing Act

Registered Nurses are usually given leadership roles such as unit managers and administrators in the department. The job description includes patient assessment and diagnosis, monitoring medication doses and offering specialized patient care.  

You need a bachelor’s degree in Nursing to become a registered nurse or RN in Australia. Next, apply to AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) for your RN practice.

The bachelor’s degree is a 3-year course if you opt for a standard study plan. You can choose a fast-track alternative that allows you to complete the course in 2-years as well. Nursing students often begin their career working as a general capacity RN for some years before specializing in any particular field like Aged Care or Paediatrics. 

Enrolled Nurse 

Enrolled Nurses or ENs work under the supervision of the Registered Nurse and depend on the RNs expertise and guidance. ENs usually monitor the patient’s body stats and track their progress. 

The job description includes measuring, recording, and observing blood pressure, body temperature, pulse, etc. in patients. ENs assist the doctors and RNs in surgeries to ensure hygienic inside the OT. They also offer first aid care in case of emergencies. 

Enrolled nurses are second-level nurses who are under the direct or indirect supervision of the RN, depending on their responsibilities. However, ENs also hold some amount of authority and offer independent nursing care. 

To become an Enrolled Nurse, you need a diploma degree in Nursing. An 18-month or 2-year course at TAFE provides a diploma in nursing to aspiring candidates. Apply to AHPRA for medical practice. Some ENs move on to get a bachelor’s degree in Nursing to upgrade to an RN.

Assistant in Nursing 

Assistant in Nursing or AINs are technically not nurses. They are candidates training to become nurses and work under the direct supervision of RNs. The day to day responsibilities of AINs include tending to patients, dressing wounds, helping patients with personal hygiene activities etc. 

AINs also assist patients with routine activities like eating, showering, and using the bathroom. To become an AIN, all you need is a TAFE certification, more specifically the Assistant in Nursing Certificate III Adult Care or Aged Care

Some nursing students pursuing a diploma’s course or trying to become an EN/RN can also apply for AIN positions.  

Clinical Nurse 

Clinical nurses hold the same level of authority and responsibility as registered nurses. The only difference is that Clinical nurses are more experienced and have worked in their respective field for a longer duration. 

Clinical nurses are RNs who have specialized in a particular healthcare sector. They have invested a few extra years to get more certifications. Clinical nurses help out RNs and guide them at handling emergency patients. 

Clinical nurses have an in-depth understanding in patient care. They have more than just textbook knowledge when it comes to advance-level healthcare. To become a clinical nurse, the candidate must have a master’s degree in nursing, specialized certification, and ample experience in patient care. 

The main job of clinical nurses is to supervise and monitor the lower-level nurses and healthcare staff in the hospital. They can also be part of nursing training sessions and workshops, sharing their experience with those under them.   


Midwives have been around for centuries now, helping women through their pregnancy term and labour. And over the years, thanks to the advance medical techniques, midwives have better tools to improve natality rate and ensure healthier deliveries. 

Midwives in Australian hospitals are responsible for conducting births and providing post-natal care to the mother and the baby. These professionals also help mothers through postpartum depression, anxieties, and physical exhaustion of carrying a pregnancy term. 

Midwives have a lot of authority to supervise and delegate tasks to other nurses during the delivery process. In Australian hospitals, it is mandatory for midwives to have a special license issued by the Nursing Act to practice their work

Midwives are usually RNs with a special certification in midwifery and post-natal care. These professionals also offer dietary advice, recovery tips and family counselling for the mother to help them cope with the delivery.

Nursing gives you a chance to make people better and contribute to the welfare of the patients.

Nursing Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who can function both independently and collaborate with other nurses in a healthcare facility. Nursing practitioners are at a higher level than an RN. They have the authority to work autonomously in a clinical role. 

A nursing student needs to put in a few extra years of education and work experience to become a practitioner. Candidates must have 1.5 to 2 years’ worth of extra education to get the necessary certification. Other than that, you need a nursing certification and minimum 3-years of experience post-registration. 

To become a nursing practitioner, you also need a “clinical support” form signed by your previous employer. Nursing practitioners also guide other nurses in the hospital in their job. They also have the authority to refer emergency patients to other healthcare professionals prescribing medications and suggest diagnosis. 

Top nursing specialization sectors in Australia

Becoming a nurse is not an overnight success. You need to slog on for years, intern and work at hospitals, deal with hundreds of patients before you can make a successful career out of it. 

And yet, nursing is a rewarding job if you want to help people get better. It is essentially a job that requires a lot of empathy, sensitivity, and professionalism. Unlike a corporate job, here you don’t work solely for the money but a greater altruistic purpose. 

That being said, money is an important factor. Lucky for you, Australia treats its healthcare workers really well. You can earn a fortune working as a nursing practitioner or general RN. Other nursing careers like professional anaesthetist, mental health practitioner, researcher, midwife, orthopaedic nurse etc are in demand.  

With the global pandemic looming in the background, the demand for nurses have increased now more than ever. And some of the top fields that we see this surge in are discussed below. 

Aged Care Nursing 

With the Covid-19 pandemic going on in full swing, the demand for aged care has skyrocketed. Even otherwise, aged care will always be in demand when you’re in the nursing field. 

The major percentage of the Australian population falls under the senior citizen category. Aged care nursing can range from simple elderly assistance to full-time positions wherein you take care of Alzheimer’s patients. 

As an aspiring nurse, you can specialize in aged care, and apply to residential facilities. There are all sorts of things you can take care of when it comes to treating elderly patients. Become a caretaker, apply at senior homes or healthcare clinics as an RN 

Aged care nursing requires a special certification. You can start your career as an enrolled nurse and then work your way up the hierarchy.

Mental Health Nursing 

Mental health is a rising field in healthcare as more and more people are opening up about depression, anxiety, and other issues. Surprisingly though, Australia still has a shortage of healthcare professionals that specialize in mental health. 

As nursing professionals, you can take up workshops to understand patient psychology and help them cope with their treatments better. Mental health is not all about therapy. Training in mental healthcare makes you emphatic human beings. Ensure that you have a minimum qualification of Bachelor’s in nursing to pursue mental healthcare. 

Critical Care Nursing 

Critical care nursing requires a bit of technical expertise and in-depth understanding of medical procedures. It is a niche field and only experienced RNs, and clinical nurses apply for this position.

Critical care is the department for surgeries, urgent operations, cancer treatments, accident victims etc. Burn victims, trauma care etc. are also part of critical care nursing. Here, you have to ensure the physical, mental, and psychological stability of the patient. It is a nurses’ job to assist doctors in burn units, OTs, and ICUs. 

The Bottom Line 

Healthcare has been one of the most in-demand sectors in Australia, now more than ever. And with the pandemic hitting, there is a sudden need for nurses and healthcare professionals to take care of patients. 

So, you will have a ton of opportunities to explore once you graduate nursing school! There is no dearth of work for sure.

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