Guide to NZ's highest paying industries and jobs in 2021
Are you finally ready for a change of scenery at work, or looking for new options for employment? If you are looking for a new job, pay is definitely an important, if not one of the biggest, deciding factor for many people. With the cost of living increasing in New Zealand, and the instability of many low wage jobs highlighted this year, your next job should be one that affords you a lifestyle you enjoy. We’ve broken down the highest paid industries and jobs below, all offering great entry-level pay along with career growth potential, providing you with the some insights to help inform your job search.
Perhaps the most commonly discussed industry when it comes to high pay, information technology (IT) is a vast field with growth that doesn’t show any signs of slowing. The 2020 IT industry median pay is published at $105,000 using the data collected by government/crown agent Careers NZ, and the well-known employment search services company SEEK published an industry average salary of $93,508 in 2017. This is compared against a median salary of $53,000 in New Zealand, a stark difference. I’ll leave the math up to you — the numbers speak for themselves.
A simple job search can show that there are a vast amount of IT-related jobs available, making it difficult to narrow down specific roles. Here are a few examples of both low level and high level job roles, as well as how to get into them.
Network or system administrator: This role has an average salary of $87,394, which involves the installation, maintenance and oversight of the network system used by businesses, usually requiring understanding of both related hardware and software. A short industry certification is usually required, but it is common to pursue either a diploma or an IT related tertiary degree.
Test Analyst/Quality Assurance: Test analysts develop software tests and analyse software for faults or flaws, documenting and removing errors. You can expect an average salary of $89,612, with no specific requirements for entry but it is common to have an industry certification or any relevant tertiary degree, similar to network administrators.
Software Developer/Software Engineer: Development roles such as these involve designing software systems and writing code to suit client needs, as well as maintenance or revision to existing software. The average salary is $94,635, with entry usually requiring a tertiary degree in computer science or software engineering.
Software/IT Architect: This role is similar to development positions, but on a higher level in terms of designing overarching software architecture and systems, as well as working with organisation-wide solutions. The average salary is $127,687, due to strict entry requirements such as a related tertiary degree in combination with years of specialised experience.
A mainstay in the job market, engineering is a field with an extensive history as well as a well-deserved reputation for great pay. Did I mention the excellent employment prospects and clear career progression? Independent sources from professional body Engineering New Zealand show a median salary of $100,000, with senior roles earning well above that. As a broad field, usually requiring a four year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree, roles depend largely on your degree specialisation. A few examples are given below.
Civil Engineer: All engineering involves design, maintenance, and analysis of technical projects, under the common goal of problem-solving. Civil engineering relates to man-made structures as well as the environment; it is summarised as covering all that is stationary. The average salary is $98,584, and it is especially strong in terms of job opportunities and pay relative to other specialisations in New Zealand.
Mechanical Engineer: In contrast to the above, mechanical engineering involves machinery, products, and physical parts; it essentially covers everything that moves. You can expect an average salary of $80,966, coupled with the ability to work in almost any professional industry due to the universal need for mechanical engineering work.
Electrical/Electronic Engineer: Identical to the above, best suited for those who enjoy work relating to digital systems, electrical systems, or technology. The description is in the name, and it nets you an average salary of $89,196 in New Zealand.
The list goes on and on, with many other fields such as chemical engineering all the way through to biomedical engineering. Pay is excellent across the board, with career progression easily obtainable with experience towards more leadership based roles. It makes an excellent choice for those wishing to pivot into a more technical or scientific career.
Along with being an incredibly stable industry, healthcare is also home to many high paying jobs in a growing field, perfect for those interested in helping others live better lives. If the commitment to becoming a doctor isn’t for you, there are many other attractive opportunities available that require shorter tertiary degrees.
Medical Imaging: Roles within medical imaging involve the production, analysis, and understanding of various scans carried out in healthcare facilities. You will play a crucial part in providing medical support, remunerated with an average salary of $82,882. Entry into this field usually requires a related three or four year degree in science or applied science specialising in medical imaging.
Nursing: A well-known role in growing demand, nursing involves the assessment and continued care of patients in healthcare contexts. Jobs as a registered nurse net you an average salary of $76,800, requiring a three year Bachelor of Nursing and professional registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand.
Optometry/Optical: Optometrists work to diagnose and treat the human eye, keeping the vision of kiwis in the best condition possible. Entry is straightforward, only possible domestically through the Bachelor of Optometry offered at the University of Auckland, which is then followed by professional registration, leading to an average salary of $82,194.
The professional services industry also offers many attractive career options, covering a wide range of tertiary study. Whether you enjoy presenting, meeting clients or analysing client issues, there is a pathway for you.
Legal: An obvious field when it comes to pay, backed up by an average salary of $86,016. Whether you wish to spend your time in court as a barrister, or outside of it as a solicitor, becoming a qualified lawyer requires a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) followed by a short professional legal studies course and finally registration. Alternative roles in the legal realm include paralegal or legal executive roles, usually only requiring a diploma in legal studies, leading to an average salary of $63,271.
Strategy/Management Consulting: Consultants are involved with various organisations, analysing their business or current problems and delivering successful strategies to improve their operation or overcome issues. Analysts in consulting receive an average salary of $87,055, with entry being very flexible. Tertiary degrees are common, with commerce related degrees of any major or even alternative degrees seen often in the industry.
Accounting: A stable and well-defined field, accountants oversee many of the financial aspects of various organisations, as well as advise clients alongside keeping records of financial activity. Average salary varies across specific roles but is almost always above standard; payroll accountants earn an average salary of $64,517 whereas taxation accountants earn an average salary of $89,115. Entry requires a tertiary commerce degree with a focus on accounting, with further career progression usually including professional registration as a chartered accountant.
Protecting your income and your lifestyle with insurance
Having an income from a high paying role is great, but keeping it is equally important. It could be an illness or injury that keeps you off work, or an unexpected restructure at work that makes you redundant. Any of these could really impact on your financial wellbeing and your lifestyle. As unfortunate as it may be, no income is ever guaranteed or permanent. Insurance is one way you can help to manage the risk of losing your income. This could be in the form of Health insurance to receive treatment when needed, Income Protection insurance to ensure you have a financial safety net in place, Mortgage Protection insurance so your home is always there for you and your loved ones, or Redundancy insurance that helps you tie over a gap in-between jobs, insurance plays an important role in ensuring financial stability for you and your family. If exploring and managing all these insurance policies seems like a nightmare to you — try Quashed. It's a simple one-stop platform to help you figure it out simply.
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This guide has hopefully helped you to think about the potential career options before you whether you're a university student finding a career pathway or an experienced professional looking to make a switch. We wish you all the best in 2021 with finding a job where you find fulfilment and joy, and a better income to keep up with the increasing cost of living in New Zealand.