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A Guide to Launching Your Career in Cairns

Are you thinking of studying or working in Cairns, Australia? Great choice! Widely recognised as the gateway to Tropical North Queensland, Cairns is a unique and vibrant destination for international students. With a diverse range of jobs available, those who study in Cairns will open the door to a world of opportunity for professional growth.

In this guide, we break down the most important things you need to know when launching your career in Cairns. 

Why work in Cairns?

There are plenty of great reasons to work and study in Cairns. Situated among some of the world’s most unique natural features, Cairns, Australia is a picturesque, laid-back city. The region is home to unique wildlife, stunning beaches and iconic rainforests that delight both locals and visitors alike.

Despite its smaller size, Cairns’ economy is mighty, with over 14,000 local businesses and over 80,000 jobs in the region. While it is best known for its tourism, hospitality, retail and agricultural sectors, there are employment opportunities across a wide range of disciplines in Cairns. For instance, Health Care and Social Assistance accounts for 16 per cent of employment in the region and Construction accounts for 11 per cent. There are also plenty of positions in the arts, media and marketing. Cairns has also established itself as a leader in the smart green economy, which has created growth in areas like ecosystem restoration, environmental credits and eco-tourism, waste and agriculture and renewable energy.

Plus, Cairns’ features a population of only 150,000 people. When it comes to employment, this not only facilitates networking but also means there is less competition for jobs. 

Cairns also strikes the perfect balance of small city living with the convenience of metropolitan amenities. While Cairns offers an easy-going lifestyle, it also acts as a bustling cultural hub. Here you’ll find many of the same high-quality facilities and features you’d find in a capital city, such as world-class education providers, an international airport and a thriving job market.

Visa options

Queensland provides state-nominated visas for graduates or professionals who are qualified in an occupation on the Queensland Skilled Occupation List (QSOL). If you fall into one of the designated occupation categories, you may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa or a Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa, given that Cairns is considered a regional destination for migration purposes.

Learn more about Queensland’s skilled visas here.

Prepare for Cairns

If you’ve decided that Cairns sounds like the sea change you’re after, we’ve put together a few tips to help you launch your career on the right foot.


Volunteering is a great way to gain workplace experience, connect with employers, build your professional network, and learn more about a sector that you are interested in. Study Cairns offers a range of volunteering roles in facilities like the Cairns Student Hub. You can also find volunteering opportunities via Volunteering Queensland or the Queensland Government.

Get hands-on experience through employment programs

Queensland is home to a great selection of employment programs, including the Launch U Trade Accelerator (LTA) program. This program connects students, employers and education providers, and offers students an outlet to build their professional skills. In groups, students work to develop solutions to a real industry problem for a Queensland-based business. It’s an exceptional way for international students to gain industry insight, join Queensland’s talent pool and boost their employability.

Embrace networking opportunities

With a population of 150,000 people, networking in Cairns is more seamless and often more impactful than in larger cities. Because it’s a smaller community, it’s easier to get to know the people around you and develop more meaningful connections. In Cairns, there are regular networking events where you can seek support, guidance and collaboration. 

Finding your dream job

Cairns’ diverse economy means that there are plenty of avenues to start looking for a job and launch your career. As we mentioned, there are roughly 80,000 jobs in the region across several sectors, including hospitality and tourism, trades and services, and healthcare.

The Cairns Local Jobs Program is a great place to start job hunting, bringing together employers, employment services providers, higher education and training organisations across the region. These groups work together to support job-seekers and their communities at a local level, with a focus on reskilling, upskilling and employment pathways. 

Other ways to find jobs in Cairns include searching on sites like SEEK, Jora, Indeed and Job Match (assistance for people with a disability and employers). You can also turn to social media platforms like LinkedIn as well as dedicated Facebook groups like Jobs in Cairns QLD.

With a diverse economy, incredible lifestyle and so many different employment opportunities, there’s never been a better time to launch your career in Cairns.

Learn more about life in Cairns at the links below:

Discover Cairns in Pictures

What to do in Cairns

Photos courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland.