does staff specialist mean staff grade? job titles in australia for consultants/specialists.

Job title terminology. Exciting stuff! Remember when I told you about devolved power that the state and territories have to determine salaries and operations? Well, job titles  vary depending on location as well and you need to know this.

Why is this important? Well reason number 1: I know a number of UK consultant/specialists who missed out on jobs believing the term Staff Specialist used in some services in Australia was only comparable to a Staff Grade position in the UK, when in fact it referred to their senior level of experience.


Reason number 2. You need to know what to type in the job search engine.

Reason number 3. Health services in Australia commonly only put base salaries on the job advert without referencing the additional allowances which make the lucrative Australian salaries so, well, lucrative. When a doctor sees the term Staff Specialist then notes a remuneration figure that on the face of it seems average it is easy to put 2 and 2 together, come up with 5 and decide the advertised job is Middle Grade only.

To be fair, most of the variances in job terminology affect middle grade jobs but it is important to note the minor differentiation for consultant level medical professionals as you commence your job search. General Practitioners are General Practitioners/GPs.

Job titles for Consultant/Specialists in each state or territory in formal job advertisements and contracts of employment are listed below. 

Western Australia: Consultant.

South Australia: Mainly they use Consultant but some services use Specialist or Senior Medical Practitioner.

Queensland: Staff Specialist or Senior Staff Specialist.

Northern Territory: Mainly they use Specialist but the odd eccentric uses Consultant.

New South Wales: Staff Specialist or Senior Staff Specialist

Tasmania: Specialist.

Victoria: Staff Specialist.

Australian Capital Territory: Staff Specialist/Senior Staff Specialist

UK Agency Medical Recruiters will always use the term Consultant when advertising jobs suitable for OTDs in Australia whilst Australian based agencies will use Consultant/Specialist.

So, when you search for jobs in a search engine, a health service career page or a recruitment agency’s jobs list; to make your search engine results cleaner and quicker the terms you need to use are  “Consultant” or “Staff Specialist” or  “Clinical Director” for leadership role. They all mean the same thing.

The Industrial awards (enterprise agreements) for each state sometimes use the terms Senior Medical Practitioner or Senior Medical Officer to define a group of senior medicos in which consultants/staff specialists are included for classification reasons around their salary and associated benefits.

Another thing. At Consultant/Specialist level when searching for jobs keep the box relating to Full time/part-time/fixed term contract etc. clear. Many administrators when posting a job on behalf of the employer, get this wrong.

Bring up the widest search including part and full time posts then narrow it down individually. Another benefit of doing this is you can note the name of the hiring manager down as intel. Even if it is a part-time job down – you may run across this person later or you can get valuable service information from the position description which can be used when a full time post is advertised in the future. Either way, it will help build up as broad a picture as possible. The search result will still be manageable despite the addition of part-time roles.

Picture credit:
Piron Guillaume


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