Broadening your job search interstate – a teacher’s story

If you’re thinking about moving for work, have you considered moving interstate? One of the great things about being a teacher is being able to cultivate transferable skills that can be applied across different schools and states.

In a previous Teacher article, we spoke with Peggy Mahy, Principal at Tranby College, about her experience moving interstate as a school leader. In this follow-up, we speak with Samantha Holt about her experience of moving interstate as a teacher.

Having completed her studies in 2010 and now in her ninth year of full-time teaching, Holt worked as a teacher in the UK, and in Australia in New South Wales and Victoria, before making the move to Queensland.

She now teaches at Foxwell State Secondary College in the northern suburbs of the Gold Coast in Coomera, with The Giant Drop at the Dreamworld theme park visible from the school grounds. The school, brand new, hosts Years 7- 9, with the Year 10-12 cohorts starting next year. There are 850 students of mixed nationalities, and 60–65 staff, 25 of which are new to the school.

Considering the drawcards

There are many reasons you might want to broaden your job search interstate as a teacher. You might be looking to progress your career, learn new skills, or simply experience living in a different climate. Or, like Holt, you might have a combination of reasons to make the move.

‘I wanted to live near a warm coast,’ Holt tells Teacher. ‘I came on holidays up here last January and stayed in Coomera and saw it. When I was looking at schools I researched I thought, “Okay, this school is going year by year progression, slowly opening.” I really loved the area and location for future living.’

After working at Epping Secondary College in Victoria, Holt adds she was drawn to the similar demographic of students, ‘… really multicultural, students with socioeconomic needs, complexities at home; really just trying to be in a government school where you can inspire kids that might not necessarily be dreaming big.’

The school’s progressive approach to technology, collaboration and environmentalism was also an appealing feature. Between the two interstate job offers she received, the drawcards of Foxwell State Secondary College made it a clear choice.

‘Even though with Education Queensland government schools I didn’t know what my pay was going to be, I could only get a one year contract to start off with, I still knew “this is the school for me.”’

The process of moving

After exploring the southeast of Queensland on holiday, Holt and her partner settled on a location.We decided out of all of that area, the Gold Coast was for us. Then, straight after that it was, “now what do I need to do?”.

‘I signed up to a few different websites, and got information that way to find out how to go through the accreditation.’

She also scouted names and locations of schools online, looking at staff to student ratios, and whether schools were increasing or decreasing in size. Holt recalls being drawn to Foxwell State Secondary College while seeing it under construction on her holiday, and from the information provided on its website.

‘I could go on the school’s website and I could learn that this was very much a school that was catering to the now – not even 10, 20 years ago, because things are changing so quickly.’

When it came to the application process, Holt explains that not all the schools she was interested in had advertisements online at the time. ‘I just contacted a number of schools directly and while this was happening, all the private schools had their job advertisements up, but none of the public schools did.

‘I had an interview, and there wasn’t even a job available at the time. They just saw my resume, I showed my interest in what the school was about, and then I had a Zoom meeting with the Principal and Assistant Principal.’

Benefits and challenges

Holt explains that a big benefit of the move was the opportunity to settle down in a new state.

‘The most exciting thing is that I never saw myself staying in Melbourne, and now it’s actually like, “let’s put down some roots”; hopefully this could be my long-term school… So, this just kind of feels like my next step, and actually quite a long-term step, which I’m really excited about.’

Because she still had plenty of room for career growth at her previous school, for Holt the move has been more about benefiting from gaining new skills rather than a different job title.

‘…it’s definitely going to progress my skills, my knowledge, and my broader understanding. I’ve got the Victoria system, bit of the New South Wales system, UK, and now I’m going into a completely new system and things are quite different here…

‘[For example] in Year 7 and 8, if you teach science, you also teach the humanities… So moulding those two areas together has also been a challenge and a lovely step forward for me – learning myself and learning new skills and kind of seeing these links.’

As for challenges, Holt acknowledges that she was able to avoid one of the most common – finding accommodation during the pandemic. However, in terms of adjusting to a different state, she explains: ‘Because of an internal structure called the transfer system, if you’ve been working for a long period of time, you accrue points depending on where you are.

‘So if you’re in central Queensland, you could accrue around eight points a year. And after you get to 40, you can apply to move to a school that you want to be at, and in some instances, [the school] can’t say no. So a lot of people transfer and say, “I want a job there.” And they have to make room. So there’s a risk that I could get pushed out because of someone wanting to transfer in. And I don’t have points because I’m working in a desirable location.’


‘Definitely organise your teaching registration,’ Holt advises as a first priority. ‘Because otherwise you can’t really do anything, you can’t lock in anything. So if you’re starting to think about it, get your registration sorted. For QCT (Queensland’s College of Teachers), it’s very easy, it links with Victoria, but it’s more expensive than a Victorian registration. Queensland’s the most expensive of the three states that I’ve worked in. If you’re thinking about the Gold Coast, then organise your New South Wales registration as well, because it’s just over the border, you know, it’s a different state, it’s a different system, but that might give you more options.’

Take some time to reflect on your goals as a teacher and consider the steps you could take to get there. Which of your goals can be achieved in your current school? In your state? What can be achieved by moving interstate?

If you’re considering moving interstate for work, reflect on some of the considerations mapped out in this article. What are the practical steps you can take to start the process?