4. Entry level jobs: cracking the code
Get the facts
The APS offers career opportunities for people who have previously worked in the private, community or other government sectors. For people just beginning their careers, or developing new skills to change jobs, the APS offers entry points for:
- school leavers
School leaver programs, traineeships, apprenticeships and cadetship jobs are generally filled at levels equivalent to APS 1-2. while graduates are generally employed at levels equivalent to APS 3-4. See info sheet 2 for information on job levels or classifications.
In most cases, agencies run their own entry level recruitment programs annually, advertising in the Public Service Gazette at www.APSjobs.gov.au, on agency websites, on social media or sometimes in newspapers.
You may be asked to complete an online application form. If your application is successful, you may be invited to an interview or assessment centre as part of the selection process. Info sheet 7 will give you more advice on this.
If you identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, you may also be interested in Indigenous career pathways for trainees, cadets and graduates. See info sheet 5 for more information.
Find out more
What is a school leaver program?
These programs are for people who have recently completed Year 12 or equivalent. They may include work placements within various areas of an agency, and provide good learning and development opportunities to begin your career. In some cases, the agency may also support you through tertiary study if it relates to your work.
If you haven’t decided on the type of job you want, these websites may help:
Australian Job Search: Australia’s largest free online jobs website.
jobactive: Australian Government employment services system that supports job seekers and employers.
There is a range of other useful websites, including:
Bullseye posters: School subjects you like and jobs they can lead to.
Job Outlook: A careers and labour market research information site to help you decide
on your future career.
myfuture.edu.au: National career information and exploration service.
My Skills: Online information about vocational education and training options.
What are traineeships?
Traineeships are suitable for school leavers, TAFE graduates, or people already working. They usually involve work experience with an agency, and the opportunity to gain a formal qualification.
What is the difference between cadetships, internships and graduate programs?
Cadetships are for university students to start working while they finish their degree. They generally involve full-time study, with work placements during study breaks, allowing you to begin developing your professional skills. In most cases agencies provide some form of financial assistance towards your study.
Internships are similar, with part-time work placements or placements during study breaks, usually in your final year of study. There is usually no financial assistance towards your study.
If you have graduated or are about to graduate, you may wish to consider a graduate program. Generally over the course of a year, the agency will give you on-the-job training and professional development opportunities. Your employment will be ongoing if you satisfactorily complete the period of training and development and you will, in effect, be promoted on completion.
Cadetships, internships and graduate programs provide excellent opportunities to start putting your skills into practice, learn new skills, undertake professional development and begin building your future career.
myth vs reality
You can only apply for traineeships, cadetships, internships and graduate programs if you are young
Age is not a factor when applying for an APS job. It is about your skills, experience, and capacity to perform the requirements of the job.
You need a good ATAR to get into the APS
The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) applies to entry to university, and is not required when applying for APS jobs. For some jobs, it may be beneficial to provide a copy of your university transcript when applying, such as for cadetships, internships, graduate programs or jobs which relate directly to areas you have studied. For other jobs, this will not be the case. Also, there are a number of entry pathways into the APS, and having a degree is not always necessary.
In the know
There are more than 100 different APS agencies. Some agencies provide a broad range of services across the country. Others work on specialised issues in one sector of society. Find out which agency best suits your skills and interests. For a list of APS agencies, as well as non-APS Australian government bodies, go to www.directory.gov.au/departments-and-agencies.
For graduate roles, we look for people with a wide range of qualifications including law, ICT, economics, finance, psychology, international studies, policy and public administration to name a few.