Darwin is one of Australia’s most multicultural cities, made up of people from more than 100 nationalities and different ethnic backgrounds. Darwin is a relatively small city and is extremely youthful with a median age of only 31. It is considered Australia’s most relaxed capital city and is surrounded by some of Australia’s most beautiful national parks.
Darwin is closer to South-East Asia than it is to many Australian cities and is, therefore, a major service centre for industries such as oil, gas, mining, tropical horticulture and pastoralism that have operations in Asian countries. The Australian Defence Force also has a large presence in Darwin and there are a number of multi-million dollar developments in the area, making the city Australia’s number one performing economy.
Due to its distance from most Australian cities and its small population size, the cost of living in Darwin is relatively high, with groceries and restaurants more expensive than in most other cities. Darwin residents do, however, enjoy cheaper rent and services, as well as low unemployment.
With a small population, Darwin offers limited graduate opportunities, hosting 0.7% of all employment opportunities in Australia, which pays out 0.9% of Australia’s total employment income. 1.1% of Australian graduates find employment in the Northern Territory.
Figure 1: Number of employing businesses in Darwin vs other Australian cities
Out of 852,963 employing businesses across Australia, 4,212 of these are located in Darwin. The top employing industries in Darwin are public administration and safety, construction, and the healthcare and social assistance industries. 11,600 people are employed in public administration, which represents 14.3% of the working population. The industries with the least number of employment opportunities are information media, telecommunications, financial and insurance services, and agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Figure 2: Per cent of total employment per industry in Darwin
Figure 3: Employment status of graduates with bachelor degrees in Darwin
The job market outlook in Darwin is very favourable for graduates, with 88% of graduates in some form of employment, including 80% who have found full-time jobs. Even with the limited number of businesses, it seems that there are a good number of opportunities available for recent graduates.
Figure 4: Comparison of annual growth rates by city
Darwin has an impressive growth rate that is higher than the Australian average, only coming in behind the major cities of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The pace of growth is especially favourable when its small size is considered. From a five year projection of the growth rate of various industries, it looks likely that the areas of health care and social assistance will grow by 15%, with other industries such as public administration and safety, utilities and construction also marked for growth. Industries such as wholesale trade and manufacturing show slower growth, while mining is projected to experience a negative growth rate.
Figure 5: Annual growth rate across industries in Darwin
Figure 6: Unemployment rates in Darwin vs other cities in Australia
Darwin boasts the lowest overall unemployment rates of any city in Australia, with only 3.4% of adults over the age of 15 unemployed, while youth unemployment (between the ages of 15-24) is at 7.9%. The unemployment rates for graduates in the Northern Territory are relatively high, however, with 12.2% of graduates in the Northern Territory unemployed, compared to a national average of 11.3%.
Figure 7: Graduate unemployment rates in the NT vs other locations in Australia
Figure 8: Per cent of total employment by occupation in Darwin
There is a relatively broad spread of employment across a number of occupations in Darwin. Sales workers take up the lowest number of jobs, with only 5.5% employed in sales-related positions. Professionals make up the highest number of all full-time employees in Darwin at 22.2% of workers. However, this is the lowest percentage of professionals out of all the Australian capital cities.
Figure 9: Percentage of full-time employees working as professionals in Darwin and other capital cities
GradAustralia surveyed graduates throughout the country, and the top five roles in Darwin are:
Figure 10: Median and mean employee income in Darwin and other capital cities
The mean income in Darwin is 13.4% above its median, hinting at a slight skew in favour of higher paying jobs. The median employee income is $58,731, with a mean income of $66,627. That gives Darwin the second highest mean and median incomes, second only to Canberra.
Darwin’s median income is more than $11,000 higher than the national median, and its mean income is over $8,500 more than the national average. If a high salary is your main motivator for employment and you don’t want to move to Canberra, Darwin would be the next best choice.
Figure 11: Darwin median graduate starting salary vs other states/territories
For graduates considering a move to Darwin, the median starting salary could be an impressive drawcard. The highest in the country and well above the national average, graduates in the Northern Territory have a median starting salary of $59,500. However, there is a wide range of variation depending on the field of study. For example, a graduate employed in the fields of science, engineering, maths, IT or computer sciences could expect to start on an average salary of $68,000.
Figure 12: Average work hours per week for graduates in Darwin
GradAustralia’s graduate survey reveals that Darwin graduates enjoy stable work hours, with 75% of graduates working 30-40 hours per week, with only one other city reporting lower average work hours per week. Darwin graduates reported that 50 hours per week was the maximum average, in contrast to respondents from cities such as Canberra, where the reported maximum hours per weeks was 70-80 hours a week. When combined with the higher average graduate salary, the Darwin work week begins to look even more attractive.
Figure 13: Average work hours per week for graduates in Darwin vs other cities
Another factor that makes Darwin an attractive choice for graduates is the high rate of job satisfaction reported. GradAustralia survey results show that out of a possible rating of 10, graduates working in Darwin scored their job satisfaction at an 8.9 – the highest in Australia, and significantly higher than the national average of 8.5.
Figure 14: Average diversity score in Darwin vs other cities
Darwin has one of the most diverse populations in Australia, which is reflected in the workplaces there. The average diversity score for Darwin is 8.8/10, which along with Perth is the highest score in the country. Job seekers who are looking for variety in the workplace should consider this average diversity score in Darwin’s favour.
Figure 15: Male and female participation rates by industry in Darwin
The average female workplace participation rate in Darwin is around 43.1%. The industries that have the highest number of female workers are health care and social assistance. Education also has a higher rate of female workers, with women making up 72.5% of the workforce in this area. Jobs dominated by male workers are the construction, mining and manufacturing industries.
The average graduate starting salary for males and females is very close. Male bachelor degree graduates in Darwin earn around $60,200 per year on average, while their female counterparts average $59,000. On average, that gives the Northern Territory the highest-paid male graduates in Australia, and equal first for female graduates (with the ACT starting female graduates on the same amount).
The most sought-after employers in Darwin include:
When looking for graduate jobs, keep an eye out for new listings on the GradAustralia website, and consider attending a graduate careers fair. Career fairs will provide opportunities for you to connect with prospective employers who offer graduate programs in Darwin. Charles Darwin University offers a career fair in association with the Northern Territory government.
Many employers also offer ‘entry-level’ jobs that are not specifically advertised as ‘graduate’ jobs. Keep an eye out for these on job boards such as SEEK.
If you're set on a job in Darwin but still not sure what you want to do, or if haven't had any luck locking down a graduate job, you might want to consider:
If you’re still weighing up the pros and cons of living and working in Darwin as a graduate, we recommend reading our complete guide to moving to Darwin.