Health and Community Services

The health and community services sector is made up of a range of organisations providing a variety of health and welfare-related services to the public. There is a wide range of occupations within the industry, with the most common being medical practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists and other specialists. Health and community services professionals are found in private practice, hospitals and other public and private organisations, including nursing homes, surgeries, community centres and clinics.

The work

Many graduates begin their careers in the public health and community services system, expanding their skills and knowledge base before moving into private practice. Working in a large institution gives graduates broad experience and the opportunity to work closely with related professionals.

Private practice is becoming more popular as a long-term career option. It offers greater control and flexibility in hours and the opportunity for practitioners to apply their own approaches to treatment.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has identified nursing and health specialisations (such as radiography and physiotherapy) as occupations with labour force shortages. In 2009 approximately 103,500 new jobs were created in the sector. The implications of Australia’s ageing population are that employment shortages will become more acute in the coming decade. Leading into 2013–14, employment is expected to grow 3 per cent per annum – equating to around 181,600 new jobs (

Lifestyle factors can vary considerably between occupations and fields in the health and community services sector. Many professionals, especially those working in hospitals, are required to work after-hours shifts and be on call for emergencies.

What you need

Accreditation by registering with the relevant associated board prior to practising

12 months of clinical practice before you can register (applies to medicine, medical imaging technology, nuclear medicine technology and radiation therapy)

Entry into some specialisations requires postgraduate study, hospital experience and the passing of examinations that lead to membership of the appropriate professional college

Money matters

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Registered nurse: $40,000– $47,000
  • Medical diagnostic radiographer: $42,000– $48,000
  • Counsellor: $42,000– $53,000
  • Welfare support worker: $40,000– $51,000
  • Social worker: $43,600– $51,000

(Figures are taken from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 42% employment growth (health care and social assistance, 1999– 2009)
  • 80% female workforce (health care and social assistance)
  • Positive outlook (181,600 projected new jobs, 2010– 14)