What are the English Language Requirements to Work in Australia

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is responsible for checking doctors English Language proficiency as part of the registration process. #

{Always check official websites and get individual advice as information can change over time}

There are 4 ways in which you can meet AHPRA’s English Language policy:

  • The Primary Language Pathway:
    To meet this pathway you have to be able to prove that your primary language is English, and all of your primary and secondary education was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country, and that your tertiary qualifications were also taught and assessed solely in English.
  • The Combined Secondary and Tertiary Education Pathway:
    To meet this pathway you have to be able to prove that at least two years of your secondary education was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country and that your tertiary qualifications were also taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country.
  • The Extended Education Pathway:
    To be able to meet this pathway you have to have completed at least six years’ (FTE) continuous education, which has been taught and assessed solely in English, in any of the recognised countries, which includes your relevant tertiary qualifications.
  • The Test Pathway:
    Finally, if you can not meet the requirement for any of the above pathways, you can satisfy AHPRA by sitting a test. You have to achieve the required minimum scores in one of the 4 approved English language tests.

Note: AHPRA refers to these requirements as pathways, which can be confusing as they are in no way related to the registration pathways.

Even Australian citizens who have studied medicine in Australia are sometimes caught out. For example, they may have done some schooling overseas or be unable to produce a high school certificate.

Which countries are recognised for English Language? #

There are 7 recognised countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America.

Which English Language Proficiency tests are acceptable? #

There are 4 tests that you can take:

  • IELTS Academic Module
  • OET
  • PTE Academic 
  • TOEFL iBT

In addition, you can also prove your proficiency by completing:

  • NZREX
  • PLAB part 1&2

What scores must I get? #

IELTS Academic Module: requires a minimum overall score of 7 and a minimum score of 7 in each of the four components.
OET: requires a minimum score of B in each of the four components.
PTE Academic: requires a minimum overall score of 65 and a minimum score of 65 in each of the four communicative skills.
TOEFL iBT: a minimum total score of 94 and the following minimum score in each section of the test: 24 for listening, 24 for reading, 27 for writing, and 23 for speaking.
NZREX: You must pass this.
PLAB: You must pass this.

How long are the tests valid for? #

The results of IELTS, OET, PTE Academic and TOEFL iBT are valid for 2 years.

Results over 2 years old will be accepted if you:

  1. have been in continuous employment as a registered health practitioner in the medical profession (which commenced within 12 months of the date of the test) in one of the recognised countries where English was the primary language of practice, and
  2. lodge your application for registration within 12 months of finishing your last period of employment

Are there any exemptions? #

Yes – if you have previously been registered in Australia and have used English as your primary language within the past 5 years. This basically means you don’t need to keep proving your proficiency every 12 months if you are currently working in Australia

The Standard does not apply to non-practising registration or if you are a student.

What if English is my primary language but I’m not from one of the listed countries? #

Unfortunately, this does not help you. You must meet the policy via one of the pathways. And generally this means doing a test.

Where can I find more information? #

Please refer to the AHPRA website and the English Language Standard for more information: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Standards/English-language-skills.aspx

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