Work in New Zealand

For a number of years, New Zealand has been encouraging people to come from overseas and work here. While our growing economy continues to create more jobs, we have skills shortages in particular areas as well.

Image by Marvin Meyer

The New Zealand job market is expected to be strong in the next few years as the result of steady economic growth.

 

The government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) predicts average annual GDP growth of about 2.7 percent and 2.5 percent over 2018-23 and 2023-28 respectively.

 

This GDP performance will be a result of household spending, residential investment, and a resumption of tourism along with strong growth in exports.

 

Growth at these rates means New Zealand will need nearly 40,000 new workers a year.

 

Moreover, New Zealand has an aging population which means that there are more people leaving the workforce, and those new vacant jobs will have to be filled by people from overseas.

Visas that allow you to work in New Zealand

Post-Study Work Visa

You can apply for this visa if you meet the criteria and have recently finished your studies in New Zealand.

 

It allows you to stay and work here for up to 3 years, depending on what you studied.

With this visa, you can

  • Work for any employer.

  • Work in almost any job in New Zealand.

Your partner can apply for a work visa and your dependent children can study fee-free as domestic students.

Image by Barney Yau
Image by Stephanie Liverani

Partner of a Worker Work Visa

This visa allows you to work in New Zealand while your partner is here on a work visa.

Length of stay - For the same duration as your partner's work visa.

With this visa, you can

  • Join your partner.

  • Work in New Zealand.

  • Study for up to 3 months.

You don’t need to have a New Zealand job offer to apply.

Partner of a Student Work Visa

With this visa, you can work in New Zealand if you have a partner who is studying here toward a level 7 or 8 qualification which is on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, or a level 9 or 10 qualification.

Length of stay - For the same time as your partner’s student visa

With this visa, you can
  • Join your partner.

  • Work in New Zealand.

  • Study for up to 3 months.

You don’t need to have a New Zealand job offer to apply.

Male Student
Image by Ben White

Partner of a
New Zealander Work Visa

This visa allows you to work in New Zealand if you have a partner who is a New Zealand citizen or resident.

Length of stay

  • 2 years, if you’ve been living with your partner for more than 12 months, or

  • 1 year, if you’ve been living with your partner for less than 12 months.

With this visa, you can

  • Come to New Zealand with your partner.

  • Work in New Zealand.

  • Study for up to 3 months.

You can only have this visa for 2 years, but before it expires you can apply for residence based on your partnership.

Entrepreneur Work Visa

You can apply for this visa, if you want to work in your own business in New Zealand, have NZD $100,000 to invest, a business plan, and be able to claim 120 points on Immigration New Zealand's points scale.

Length of stay - Upto 3 years

With this visa you can

  • Come to New Zealand to buy or set up your own business.

  • Work in your own business in New Zealand for up to 3 years in total.

  • Include your partner, and dependent children aged 19 and under, in your visa application.

Also, if your business is in the science or ICT sectors and shows a high level of innovation or export potential, Immigration New Zealand may consider waiving the NZD $100,000 capital investment requirement.

Portrait with Glasses
Image by Charlotte Karlsen

Working Holiday Visas

New Zealand has working holiday scheme agreements with many countries, which allows people from those countries to work here and explore this beautiful country.

Hundreds of young people apply for New Zealand working holiday visas every year and spend a year or two working in New Zealand.

Eligibility and criteria for working holiday visas

 

Working holiday visas are usually available to people, aged 18 to 30, however, for a select few countries, people aged 18 to 35 can apply.

 

These visas allow you to travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you are from the UK or Canada. 

Studying and training courses

 

With your working holiday visa, you can study one or more courses for up to 6 months in New Zealand. 

 

NOTE: You need to be coming mainly to holiday, with both work/study being your secondary intentions.

Bringing family if you have a Work Visa

Most types of work visas allow you to support visas for your partner and dependent children.

Visas your family can apply for

 

With your work visa, you can normally support the following visas for your partner and dependent children:

  • an open work visa for your partner

  • a visitor visa for your partner or your children

  • a student visa for your children.

 

Visas for your partner and children expire at the same time as your work visa.

If you have an Essential Skills Work Visa 

 

If you have an Essential Skills visa, from 27 July 2020 you can support:

  • visitor visas for partners

  • visitor or student visas for dependent children, as long as you meet the income requirement, which is currently NZD $43,322.76 a year.

 

If you are paid at or above the median wage, you can also support a work visa for your partner.

If you applied before 27 July 2020

 

If you applied before 27 July 2020 and Immigration New Zealand assessed you as high or mid-skilled, you can support a work visa for your partner. 

If Immigration New Zealand assessed your job as lower-skilled, you can only support a work visa for your partner if:

  • your partner held a visa on 28 August 2017 that is based on their relationship to you, and you have not been subject to a stand-down period, or

  • you completed study in New Zealand and your student visa let you support your partner for a work visa. You then worked here on a post-study work visa and supported them for visas based on your relationship with them.

 

If you earn below the median wage and your partner wants to work, they will have to apply for their own work visa.

If you have an Accredited Employer Work Visa 

 

If you have an Accredited Employer Work Visa you can support:

  • work visas for partners

  • visitor or student visas for dependent children, as long as you meet the income requirement, which is currently NZD $43,322.76 a year.

 

If you are paid under the median wage, you can also support a visitor visa for your partner.

From December 2022

 

You can support a visitor visa for your partner. If your partner is granted an AEWV, they will be able to work less than 30 hours per week.

 

If you are working in an occupation on the Green List or are paid twice the median wage you can support a work visa with open work rights for your partner.

Jobs in demand

Almost half of the 40,000 new jobs in New Zealand each year will be in either Accommodation and Food services, Business services, Construction or Retail trade.

Transport and logistics and non-farm manufacturing are also expected to grow.

Employment growth will be strongest for highly-skilled occupations, including managers and professionals, 

 

There will also be some opportunities for less skilled workers such as drivers, construction and mining labourers and delivery drivers.

 

Jobs in New Zealand are dispersed quite widely around the country with the three biggest jobs centres being Auckland, Canterbury (including Christchurch) and Wellington.

 

There are almost as many jobs in the regions, including the Waikato (based around the city of Hamilton), the Bay of Plenty (Tauranga), Otago (Dunedin and Queenstown), and around Nelson.

 

The fastest growing region for jobs recently has been Manawatu-Wanganui (Palmerston North).

 

Is your profession on the Green List?

Some high-need roles in various industries are currently on INZ's fast-tracked Residency Green List.

Image by Dylan Gillis

Accredited Employer Work Visa

You can apply for this visa if you have a job offer from an accredited employer, and the skills and qualifications for the job.

 

You may also be eligible for the Green List Straight to Residence Visa, or after 2 years the Work to Residence Visa.

Lenght of stay: 3 years

With this visa you can

  • Work in New Zealand for an accredited employer who has offered you at least 30 hours work a week.

  • Study for up to 3 months in any 12 month period, or do any study required as part of your employment.

  • In some cases, fast-track to residence or work to residence in 2 years depending on your pay and your role.

Occupations in focus

Healthcare Jobs

Hospitals and medical practices across New Zealand are in need of doctors, nurses, midwives, surgeons, technicians, and nearly 20 other healthcare occupations.

Due to these high demands for workers across the health sector, the government recently introduced a fast-track to residency pathway for some specific occupations.  

Many factors have contributed to creating the skill shortages across this sector. These are a growing population, with an increasing proportion of elderly; increasing health needs and rising health expectations; and an aging health workforce.

Up to one in five nurses will be looking to retire in the next five years. At the same time nurse training enrolments have been falling.

Many GPs too are retiring, creating shortages in that speciality.

 

Amongst specialists, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) estimates shortages at 24% with psychiatry, anaesthetics, dermatology and neurology particularly affected.

 

These challenges mean that there are plenty of opportunities for healthcare professionals in our country.

Health Technology Jobs

New Zealand is increasingly seen as a breeding ground for health technology innovation and excellence. There is a vibrant eco-system of health technology invention here. Kiwi-developed medical devices are now marketed to the world. 

Medical innovation in New Zealand is a very outward looking sector. New Zealand's health sector companies have only been exporting for 15 years and already over 90% of its devices and technology solutions are exported. 

New Zealand based medical technology and Health IT businesses earn over $1.3 billion a year, according to industry figures.

 

Medical device companies contribute $996 million whilst health IT companies contribute $321 million - however, health IT companies are reporting the largest average revenue growth at 35%.

In 2018, healthcare sector companies among New Zealand’s top 200 tech companies reported Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.4%, translating into five year revenue growth of $650 million.

New Zealand healthtech is a diverse and vibrant sector with 140 medical device and health IT companies, an active research community plus entrepreneurial clinicians and health providers.

New Zealand ranks 31st in the 2018 world rankings of patents issued. For a country less than 5m people, that's a lot of innovation.

Information Technology

New Zealand's tech sector is diverse and advanced. It's a breeding ground for innovation and competes successfully on the world stage.

The IT industry accounts for 8% of our GDP and employs 5% of the workforce.

In 2021 our tech sector exported $8.6b globally, making it the country’s second-largest export sector.

Many high-profile projects have come out of our ICT industry.

  • The world's most advanced, safest wireless charging system comes from PowerbyProxi, an offshoot of Auckland University. The business is now part-funded by Korean giant Samsung and in 2014 signed a licensing deal with US Fortune 500 company Texas Instruments (TI).

  • A robotic exoskeleton that allows paralysed people to stand and walk, developed by New Zealand's Rex Bionics, is used in rehab clinics and research hospitals in the US, Europe and Asia. 

  • Accounting software developed by cloud accounting business Xero helped the company top Forbes' list of 'Most Innovative Growth Companies' in 2014. 

  • A security solution from Gallagher was named 'Best Perimeter Protection Product/System' in the US Government Security News 'Homeland Security Awards' in 2014.

  • Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, shot at 48 frames per second has pioneered HFR (High Frame Rate) film production. 

 

Several global industry leaders have chosen New Zealand as a base for their ICT operations, including the global IT services provider Fujitsu.

New Zealand’s tech sector is made up of over 20,000 firms, most of them small businesses. Combined they employ over 114,000 people.

 

According to a recent industry study, employers anticipate they will need 4-5,000 new digital technology professionals per year into the near future.

 

3,683 immigrants were granted visas for IT occupations in 2019, accounting for over 80% of new digital technology jobs created. In the years 2014-19, 27,057 visas were granted for people entering New Zealand to work in ICT occupations.

 

The relative shortage of digital skills means that these roles continue to be some of New Zealand’s highest paid jobs. In addition, ICT employees receive generally excellent benefits with most receiving bonuses and having the option to work remotely and flexibly.

A recent industry survey suggested the highest demand will be for software developers, followed by data analytics and cybersecurity skills.

Over half of New Zealand’s tech sector jobs are in Auckland, 14% each in Wellington and Canterbury/Christchurch with the remainder (nearly 24,000 workers) spread throughout regional New Zealand.

A lot of IT roles are currently on INZ's fast-tracked Residency Green list.

Agriculture & Forestry

New Zealand is justly famous for its agriculture and forestry, overcoming the challenge of distance to become a world leader. You’ll have an unbeatable opportunity to develop your career in a country recognized as a hub of agribusiness innovation.

Agriculture and forestry are among New Zealand's powerhouse industries. Together with fisheries and related sectors, our primary industries generate over 80% of our merchandise exports and are key drivers in our continued economic growth.

 

New Zealand’s primary industries have succeeded in building an efficient and highly competitive production and distribution infrastructure, despite being further from the world’s markets than any other major producers.

Dairy is New Zealand's biggest export earner – worth about $19 billion a year.

 

Meat exports are also worth a lot to New Zealand. Beef and lamb exports alone total more than $5 billion a year.

 

Primary industry production and exports performed better than expected during the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry for Primary Industries forecasts annual export revenue for food and fibre will reach $56.8 billion by year June 2026.

Education Jobs

 

New Zealand offers an excellent education system to work in. Among OECD countries, New Zealand has been spending one of the highest proportions of its gross domestic product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.

Education here is very focused on preparing young people for tomorrow’s world.

 

We ranked third overall out of 50 leading countries in The Economist’s 2019 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI).

 

We top-scored for measures such as gender equality, civic freedom, and diversity and tolerance; and ranked fifth for our focus on critical thinking, digital skills and soft skills.

All eight of our universities are ranked in the top 500 universities in the world — and five are in the top 300.
 

New Zealand has for many years faced a shortage of teachers at all levels.

Foreign-trained teachers have been a key part of government efforts to close the gaps.

You’ll be working in an education sector that is admired internationally.

Engineering Jobs

When you bring your skills to New Zealand, you will be able to apply and develop them in a busy and varied engineering environment – then in half an hour or less, you could be, hiking through beautiful native bush, relaxing on a beach, pounding down a mountain bike track or just chilling with friends in your back garden over a fine New Zealand craft beer or wine.

 

New Zealand is investing heavily in infrastructure right now to modernize existing assets, prepare for climate change, and to help grow the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

An estimated $129 billion is to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029. 

The government in 2020 announced a $15 billion surge of infrastructure projects in a New Zealand Upgrade programme, with special emphasis on roading and transport, hospitals and schools. This is in addition to already unprecedented infrastructure investment. An estimated $129 billion is expected to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029.

 

New housing developments are also underway across New Zealand, needing skills in land development, traffic and water infrastructure.

There are many engineering roles currently on INZ's fast-tracked Residency Green List.

A leading engineering recruitment agency has identified five particularly ‘hot’ skills in demand:

  1. civil engineers with land development experience;

  2. Stormwater and Three Waters engineers;

  3. Land Surveyors;

  4. Structural engineers; and

  5. Geotechnical engineers

 

The agency comments that Demand for engineering skills is particularly strong in the North Island.

 

There is strong competition for civil, structural, and building professionals in Canterbury/Christchurch since many Canterbury firms are working on projects in other parts of the South Island.

Other noted demand in different parts of New Zealand is as below.

Auckland also Waikato (Hamilton) and Bay of Plenty (Tauranga)

  • Civil Design Engineers

  • Civil Engineers with experience roads, rail, tunnelling or water and in land development

  • Geotechnical engineers

  • Land Surveyors and Survey Technicians

  • Planners, especially Resource Consent planners

  • Stormwater and Three Waters Engineers

  • Structural Engineers

  • Structural Revit Drafters

  • Transport Planners and Engineers

 

Wellington
  • Building Services Engineers (Mechanical and Electrical)

  • Civil Engineers experienced in land development

  • Civil Infrastructure Engineers

  • Geometric Designers

  • Site and Project Engineers

  • Structural Engineers, especially with seismic project experience

 

Christchurch / South Island
  • Civil Engineers across multiple sectors

  • Geotechnical Engineers 

  • Generation, Power Systems and Substation Design engineers

  • Land Surveyors

  • Qualified Mechanical/Electrical Engineers (Building Services, High Voltage)

  • Stormwater and Three Waters Engineers 

  • Structural Engineers, especially with seismic project experience

Tourism & Hospitality

 

As New Zealand's tourism industry restarts, it is a great place to grow your career.

You can enjoy an unbeatable lifestyle while using and growing your skills in an industry that works to international standards.

In 2019 New Zealand had nearly 4 million overseas visitors.

 

Besides New Zealand's incredible and breathtaking scenery, the success of its tourism and hospitality is also because of the qualities and skills of the people who work in the industry as they have to meet the needs of a diverse and often very well-traveled global market.

 

New Zealand's overseas visitors come from different countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Germany, Australia, USA, UK and Canada, and many more and each of these groups has different needs and expectations. 

Most jobs in tourism and hospitality will continue to be found in the top tourist destinations with these being Auckland, Queenstown, Canterbury/Christchurch, Rotorua/Bay of Plenty, and Wellington.

 

Demand for tourism workers is the highest in the summer, which is around December to February.

Business & Finance

 

Over the past 30 years, New Zealand has transformed itself into a successful and resilient free market with an open economy.

Annual GDP growth reached 5% in 2021.

 

The OECD predicts GDP growth will ease to 3% in 2022 and 2% in 2023.

New Zealand Economic Snapshot | OECD

Forbes magazine consistently ranks New Zealand as one of the five best countries in the world for business.

The International Tax Foundation’s 2021 index puts New Zealand third amongst OECD countries for tax competitiveness.

 

Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks us first equal with Denmark and Finland as the world’s three least corrupt countries out of 180.

New Zealand was rated the world’s fourth most free economy in the Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of Economic Freedom.

International Tax Competitiveness Index 2021 | Tax Foundation

Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 | Transparency International

 

The service sector is a big part of our economy and offers all sorts of roles and opportunities for people with business skills and accounts for nearly two-thirds of New Zealand's GDP.

 

The financial and insurance services subsector is also important - in 2019, it contributed $17.4bn to GDP (nearly 6%).

 

There are 26 banks and 24 non-bank deposit takers registered with the Reserve Bank. There are around 86 insurers, accounting for NZ$32 billion in assets, operating in one of the least regulated insurance markets in the world.

New Zealand’s internet infrastructure is very advanced and efficient. It has a near-nationwide high-speed fibre network giving most fibre-linked businesses and households 100 Mbps connections and options for up to 950 Mbps download and 450 Mbps upload.

Global broadband ranking service Ookla rated New Zealand’s average speed at November 2020 as 143 Mbps, 22nd out of 174 countries rated.

Our capital city Wellington has even been recognized as “one of the world’s top destinations for remote workers and digital nomads.”

Business and finance skills needed

 

New Zealand needs more workers with business and finance skills.

Accountant and accountants procurement manager roles feature on the official skills shortage lists.

If your skill is on one of these lists it is good news for you because it means that the Government accepts that employers need to recruit accountants from overseas as there aren’t enough qualified New Zealanders.

If your job is not on a shortage list, don’t be disheartened. There are other work and visa options.

For example, If you can get a job offer and your employer can demonstrate they can’t find a New Zealander for the vacancy, then you may be able to apply for a work visa.

Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a resident visa if you meet the criteria for our Skilled Migrant Category.

Is your profession on the green list?

 

Check for Business and Finance roles currently on INZ's fast-tracked Residency Green List.

Science Jobs

 

New Zealand is home to a number of internationally-renowned research institutions.

 

It competes globally in many fields including agricultural biotechnology, genomics, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, nutraceuticals, and more.

There’s no shortage of world-leading science and research initiatives going on here, which, amongst other advances, they’ve led to:

  • NZ universities are twice as successful as their US counterparts at getting research from the lab to market. Some even outperform entrepreneurial heavyweights like MIT and Stanford University.

  • Smart healing gels that will improve the healing process of patients recovering from sinus surgery.

  • A digital soil map that farmers and land managers can use to get a better understanding of the soils they're working with.

  • An innovative new social app that helps people make positive lifestyle changes.

  • 'Healthbots' - robotic companions that provide cost effective care and entertainment for older people (an international collaboration with South Korea).

  • A new type of GPS tracking system that will revolutionize the conservation of native birds and endangered animals.

  • New 'green' power technologies.

 

In 2012, the OECD noted that 50% of their scientific articles and 20% of their PCT patent applications were produced with international collaboration.

Science, Technology & Innovation | OECD

 

Employment opportunities

 

The best employment opportunities are in applied scientific research, on projects likely to have a practical outcome that will directly benefit the economy.

Because the New Zealand economy is somewhat dependent on primary industries such as agriculture and forestry, a lot of scientific research is focused on these industries.

 

New Zealand needs more scientists who specialize in agricultural and forestry research and development.

Science and Innovation | MBIE

About | Science New Zealand

Is your profession on the green list?

 

There are science roles currently on INZ's fast-tracked Residency Green list.