Wade scored his maiden first class century in the 2008-09 season. He made an important contribution to Victoria's win in the 2009-10 Sheffield Shield final against Queensland, when he came out to bat with the team at 5/60 and scored 96 runs. Victoria won the match by 457 runs and Wade was named man of the match.
Following his success in domestic limited overs cricket, Wade was called up to the Australian team for the first time in October 2011, for a Twenty20 International against South Africa. In February 2012, he made his international breakthrough as a T20I player against India in Sydney, opening the batting and scoring 72 runs from 43 balls to earn the Man of the Match award.
Following that T20I series, Wade was called up to the Australian One Day International team for the 2011–12 Commonwealth Bank series. He won the Man of the Match award on debut, scoring 67 runs off 69 balls against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. During the series, he cemented his place as Australia's first choice limited overs wicket-keeper, and usually opened the batting.
Wade was part of the Australian team for the 2011–12 tour of the West Indies as the limited overs wicketkeeper. However, after Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin returned home before the Test matches because his daughter was ill, Wade was selected to replace him. He made his Test debut on 7 April against the West Indies at Barbados, and scored his maiden Test century (106) in the third Test in Roseau. Wade was then selected ahead of Haddin for Australia's following Test series against South Africa in November 2012.