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Working in New Zealand
Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in New Zealand
Working in New Zealand may be a great stepping stone for your career. The country’s typical small business culture provides many opportunities to learn fast, take on new responsibilities, and assume leadership roles earlier than you would expect.
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Knowing what New Zealand’s job market is like is the first step to a successful relocation. This is extremely important as you will likely need a job to obtain a visa in the first place.
You will find the Kiwi way of doing business to be very relaxed. You will do well with a can-do autonomous attitude and if you let go of rigid ideas of hierarchy and bureaucracies. You will also discover the many benefits of being a resident in New Zealand when it comes to welfare.
Learn all you need to know on how to find a job in New Zealand, average salary, social security, working as self-employed, and more by following our guide.
How to Get a Job in New Zealand as a Foreigner
Knowing what type of visa you wish to obtain is important when considering how to get a job in New Zealand as a foreigner. This will dictate what kind of benefits you are entitled to and how you should go about finding a position in the job market.
Still, keep in mind that finding a job in New Zealand is the first step in your moving process as you will typically need a job offer to apply for a visa in the first place.
How to Get a Job in New Zealand as a Foreigner
There are job opportunities for foreigners in New Zealand if you know where to look. For starters, there are specific websites that connect foreign workers to New Zealand employers. This is a good place to start if you are just starting your research, as these employers are typically experienced and open to hiring foreign workers. You can start by visiting the following websites:
- Working In
You can also register your CV with the New Kiwis website, an online migrant recruitment program that connects skilled migrants with New Zealand employers.
There are other options for foreigners that wish to start working in New Zealand. Just keep in mind not all employers may be open to hiring workers from overseas. One of the best ways to get a job in New Zealand as a foreigner is to start by looking for vacancies in your area in the most popular general job search websites. These are:
There are dozens of industry-specific websites for New Zealand, anything from health, law, engineering, tourism, IT, and many others. You can find a complete list of websites for job hunting (by industry) on the official government website.
How to Apply for a Job in New Zealand
Once you know where to start your search, you can start confidently applying for a job. Make sure you read on to know the country-style CV, cover letter tips and requirements and qualifications to apply for jobs in New Zealand.
What Should your CV Include?
There are two main types of CV you may successfully use in New Zealand: a skills-focused CV, and a work-focused CV. The first is recommended for first-time job seekers or workers changing their career, while the second is for you if you have strong work experience to show for or you wish to take a step forward in your career.
Whichever you choose, make sure your CV includes:
- name and contact details
- technical and personal skills
- work experience, as well as community and volunteer experience
- qualifications and education
- references (you can include contact details of the referees or note that referees are available upon request)
The following are optional, but can be included:
- an objective and personal statement
Here is what you should not include:
- pictures or images
- date of birth or age
- marital status, religion, bank account details
- irrelevant work experience or interests
Cover Letter: Is It Necessary, and Which Format to Use?
It is advised to send a cover letter along with your CV, as a pitch to why you should get the position. The letter should start with your introduction, followed by an explanation of your skills, experience, and suitability to the position. Keep it one page only. Remember to keep your writing style formal and persuasive, without sounding too boastful.
Don’t forget to bring your qualifications with you to New Zealand. You can get certified copies of these with a Justice of the Peace (JP), in case you need them.
Are You Eligible to Work in New Zealand?
There are requirements you must meet in order to work in the country. You must either be a citizen of New Zealand or Australia (including people born in the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau) or you hold a work visa that allows you to work in the country and respect the conditions that apply to that visa type. You have to have met the requirements to work in the country to obtain such visa in the first place.
It is worth noting that it is the responsibility of the employer to verify whether or not an employee can legally work for them.
Tips for Interviews in New Zealand
- New Zealanders are informal, so expect job interviews to be as well.
- The number of people who interview you may vary, from one recruiter to three and, sometimes, four people.
- Job interviews tend to be behavioral. You will often be asked about specific situations from your previous job experiences, to demonstrate how you would handle a given challenge.
- Be confident when describing your skills and experience, but be careful not to sound arrogant or immodest.
- Keep your discourse and posture friendly and professional.
New Zealand Networking Tips
Networking is very important in New Zealand, as some 70% or 80% of job positions may not even get to the advertising phase. It is important to be in situations where you can meet other professionals in your industry and to look for opportunities to introduce yourself at such meetings.
You will not have difficulty finding network opportunities in the biggest cities. You can also try service clubs, which do not specifically cater to networking but may present good opportunities to meet other professionals in your community.
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Minimum Wage and Average Salary
The average salary in New Zealand may be anywhere between 50,000 and 400,000 NZD (33,000 – 264,000 USD) a year for highly skilled professionals.
What is the Average Annual Salary in New Zealand?
The average annual salary will depend on your professional and qualifications. A good salary in New Zealand would be around 8,600 NZD (5,670 USD) a month. That would amount to 106,000 NZD (69,910 USD) per year.
What is the Minimum Wage in New Zealand?
The minimum wage rates in New Zealand at the time of writing are:
- 70 NZD (12 USD) per hour
- 60 NZD (94 USD) per day
- 708 NZD for a (467 USD) 40-hour week
- 1,416 NZD (934 USD) for an 80-hour fortnight
If you are starting your career or are still training, the minimum wage rates are lower.
The Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay
Below is the average annual salary for popular jobs in New Zealand.
Other in-demand jobs in New Zealand
- Anesthetic Technician
- Building Contractor or Manager
- Business Analyst
- Data Analyst
- Engineers (Automotive, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Etc.)
- Game Developer
- Gynecologist or Obstetrician
- Information Technology Manager
- Medical Laboratory Scientist
- Project Manager
- Purchasing/Supply Officer
- Registered Nurse
- Security Analyst
- Software Developer
- Systems Administrator
- Tertiary Lecturers
For an extended list of in-demand jobs visit the Immigration New Zealand website.
Self-employment in New Zealand is relatively hassle-free. Do not expect a lot of bureaucracy if you are starting a business as a sole trader. Sole traders may be anything from IT consultants to electricians, hairdressers, and small business owners. They are entitled to some of the same benefits as employees (such as maternity leave) but will miss out on others like paid sick leave. You can read more about becoming a sole worker with New Zealand Business.
As a foreigner, the conditions under which you can be self-employed in New Zealand will depend on your specific visa conditions. Read our Visas and Work Permits section of this guide for more information.
Freelancer or Business Owner?
In general, if you hold a work visa that allows you to be self-employed in the country, you are entitled to run a business or work as a freelancer. Alternatively, you may wish to start a company. There are three common types of companies you may choose from: limited liability companies, or Ltd; co-operative companies, commonly known as co-ops, or the rarer unlimited companies.
You can check other business structures for your business in New Zealand, for more details on trusts, incorporated societies, credit unions, and many others.
How to Be Self-Employed in New Zealand
To be self-employed you need:
- A personal IRD number, which you will use to pay tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Government licenses and permits your type of business may require
- Qualifications or registrations for your profession
As for any procedures, you simply need to inform Inland Revenue that you have started a business as a sole trader. You only need to register for GST if you earn over 60,000 NZD (39,570 USD) a year.
The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
If you want to speed up your interactions with the government, clients, suppliers, or others, you are advised to get a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN). This consists of a unique number that identifies your business. It registers your contact details, from your phone number to your dress and email, and updates every business contact you have in case any of these changes. This makes sure all your stakeholders are up to date on your correct contact details, and also speeds up the process of getting invoices.
What are the Top Self-Employed Jobs in New Zealand?
Not only is it relatively easy to start a business in New Zealand, but there are also many in-demand jobs that are easy to take up as self-employed. These would be a good guarantee of a place in the job market.
The most common self-employed jobs that are also in-demand are physiotherapists, midwives, roofers, plumbers, drain layers, builders, accountants, chefs, or electricians.
Self-Employed Benefits in New Zealand
As a self-employed worker, you get some of the same benefits as employees (e.g., paid parental leave), but you will not be entitled to others (e.g., paid sick leave).
You are entitled to the Self-employed Start Up Payment, which helps with the initial costs of setting up your business in New Zealand. You may be entitled to a maximum of 10,000 NZD (6,595 USD) in a 52-week period. You are also entitled to receive help with setting up your business plan and get general advice through the Business Training and Advice Grant.
Healthcare Coverage for Self-Employed Workers
When it comes to health coverage, you are automatically entitled to the ACC’s CoverPlus. This ensures that if you cannot work due to an accident, you can get compensation of up to 80% of your income. This means you are entitled to weekly compensations one week after the injury, but that you will also be assisted with the costs of treatments and rehabilitation.
For more benefits you may be entitled to in New Zealand, look for the ones that may apply to you on the complete list of the government benefits.
New Zealand’s business culture is quite inviting. If you have a positive can-do attitude, you can expect to do well in the workplace.
New Zealand’s Work Culture
Work-life balance is very important and commonly respected in New Zealand, and the country is often cited for having an enviable work-life balance. Some of this may be thanks to the size of businesses and organizations in the country, which tend to be smaller than in other countries. Businesses typically have fewer than 14 employees. As a comparison, that is half the average size of businesses in the US.
Don’t expect too much hierarchy. New Zealand’s working culture is fairly informal. It gives room for employees of every level to contribute with ideas and feedback – in fact, you are expected to do so no matter what position you hold in the company.
Having fewer employees per organization means you may have more responsibilities within a company and may be expected to perform a wider range of tasks related to your role. It is important to be flexible and open-minded in order to do well in New Zealand’s working environment.
This also means you are close to senior employees and decision-makers. This presents a good opportunity to have more influence in the organization and possibly progress faster in your career.
Coworkers and Managers
It is common to address colleagues, superiors, and clients by their first name. The management style is also informal. New Zealanders care to be managed as autonomous, capable workers, so keep that in mind in case you are filling a management position.
As for the dress code in the workplace, you can expect it to be informal and relaxed as well. However, it is always safe to consider basic rules for workplace wear.
Social Security and Benefits
New Zealand has a non-contributory system since their social welfare is mostly funded by general taxation. New Zealanders do not have to pay for social security but do contribute to the ACC, the Accident Compensation Corporation. As the name indicates, this scheme covers your compensation in the case of accidents, work-related or otherwise.
Social security benefits are administered by Work and Income. There you will find a list of all the benefits that the government has to offer.
IRD: New Zealand’s Social Security Number
The social security number of New Zealand is the IRD, the same as the tax number. To apply for an IRD, you will need to gather all the required documents, apply either online or in person, and wait to receive your IRD.
How to Apply for a Social Security Number as a Foreigner
As you will be applying for a social security number as a foreigner, you will need:
- your passport details;
- the Immigration Application Number (which can be found on the visa approval letter from Immigration New Zealand).
If you already have a work visa, you will also need:
- the most recent tax number from overseas (if it applies);
- proof of a bank account in New Zealand (containing your name and account number).
Once you have all the required documents with you, you can complete the online application form or the equivalent physical copy (form IR742) found in local post offices (PostShops) in New Zealand.
Once your application is processed, you will receive your IRD number within two days by email or text, or within twelve days via mail.
New Zealand’s Social Security Benefits
New Zealand has a welfare system in place which cares for its citizens and residents. In general, you would need to have lived in the country for two years to be entitled to these benefits.
You can expect assistance in case of unemployment, retirement, superannuation (which is New Zealand’s old age pension), as well as maternity and healthcare.
In general, you can expect assistance in the following areas:
- Unemployment or disability
- Living expenses (food, school, accommodation costs, etc.)
- Health and disability (prescriptions, GP costs, etc.)
- Education and Training (for 16 to 19-year-olds)
- Childcare (stationary, uniforms, childbirth, etc.)
Many other benefits are included in New Zealand’s welfare system. Those are benefits for seniors, emergencies, payment issues, and urgency or unexpected costs.
You can check this comprehensive list of benefits provided by the New Zealand government, for more information on each benefit you may be entitled to. If you wish to know the rates of each benefit, you will also find extensive tables of benefits and corresponding rates on the Work and Inland website.
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Maternity and Paternity Leave
Maternity leave in New Zealand is generous. You may be eligible for up to 52 weeks of paid parental leave and share it with a partner if you wish. Read on to see what you can expect when giving birth or adopting in New Zealand.
Types of Maternity Leave in New Zealand
New Zealand offers maternity leave to its female employees. This leave also includes partners, spouses, and foster parents or guardians who are going to care for a child under the age of six.
There are various types of parental leaves in New Zealand.
- Primary carer leave
- Special leave
- Partner’s leave
- Extended leave
Primary carer leave is for:
- Female employees who are giving birth. Their partners or spouses may also benefit from this leave if they have all or part of the payments transferred to them.
- Employees who are going to be the caregiver of a child, either through adoption, Home for Life, or a grand-parent with full-time care. In case they are caring for the child with their spouse or partner, one person needs to be designated as the primary carer.
- You will typically need to notify your employer that you are the primary carer when taking maternity or paternity leave.
How Long Is Maternity Leave in New Zealand?
Primary carer leave entitles the person who is designated as “the primary carer” of a child to take up to 22 weeks of leave. This time has to be taken in one continuous period, which starts from the due date of the birth. If the employee is not giving birth to the child, the leave starts when the employee becomes the primary caregiver of the child.
If you are giving birth, you are also entitled to a special leave, which consists of 10 unpaid days for pregnancy-related reasons, such as prenatal classes, medical appointments or exams.
You may also be eligible for an extended leave. This will depend on your situation, such as for example, how long you have worked for your current employer. You may take up to 52 weeks if you meet the twelve-month criteria, or up to 26 weeks if you meet the six-month criteria.
What Maternity Benefits are Available in New Zealand?
You are entitled to paid parental leave. Payments are made each fortnight (every two weeks) and are taxed as any other source of income. These payments match your ordinary salary up to a maximum of 564.38 NZD (372.25 USD) a week before tax. You can share your paid parental leave with a partner, for which you will need to fill the form IR881.
Paternity Leave and Benefits
If you are a partner or spouse of a new parent, you are entitled to the following:
- One-week unpaid leave (if you meet the six-month time criteria)
- Two-weeks unpaid leave (if you meet the twelve-month time criteria)
This leave may start 21 days before the due date, or on the day the partner becomes the primary caregiver of the child.
Maternity Leave and Benefits for Self-Employed
Self-employed workers are entitled to paid parental leave if they have worked for an average of 10 hours per week, for a minimum of 26 weeks during the year leading up to the birth or arrival of the child.
For self-employed workers, the maximum amount of paid leave you may receive is 564.38 NZD (372.25 USD) a week, and the minimum payment you are entitled to 165 NDZ (109 USD) a week.
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