Who earns what?

Find out how your qualifications can affect your earnings, and which jobs in New Zealand pay the most and the least.

Higher qualifications can improve your earnings

The level you study at and the subjects you choose can strongly affect your income. Ministry of Education* research shows that higher qualifications usually lead to higher earnings. 

Effect of education on earnings

Five years after qualifying, graduates in the majority of subject areas usually earn at least the median (middle) New Zealand income, which was $41,200 a year (before tax) in 2017.

The effect of qualifications on earnings is stronger for graduates with 10 years' work experience:

  • Level 1 to 4 certificates – 15% more than the median income
  • Level 5 to 7 certificates and diplomas – 30% more than the median income
  • Bachelor’s degrees – 67% more than the median income
  • Postgraduate qualifications (Level 7 and 8 graduate certificates and diplomas, and Honours and Master's degrees) – 95% more than the median income
  • PhDs (doctorates) – 130% more than the median income.

Subject choice affects income

Subject choice can also have a big effect on your income.

Median incomes after 10 years for Level 5 to 7 certificate and diploma graduates in:

  • performing arts and personal services – $34,500 a year 
  • civil, mechanical, aerospace and industrial engineering – $73,000 to $86,000

Median incomes after 10 years for Bachelor's degree graduates in:

  • visual arts and crafts and performing arts – $43,000 a year
  • law, accountancy, banking and management, computer science and information technology and veterinary – $78,000 to $88,000
  • dental studies – $95,000
  • medical studies – $124,000.

Other factors affecting income

Usually, the higher your qualification the more you will earn. However, pay rates vary widely and your earnings may also be affected by:

  • the demand for workers when you're looking for a job
  • where you work – both the region and the employer
  • the industry you work in and the role you have
  • how well you negotiate your starting salary
  • whether you take time off paid work to care for your children. 


Pay isn't everything - how to find a job you'll love

Although income is important, so is finding a job you will be good at and enjoy. Use our tools to help you find a job you'll love, based on subjects, skills or interest areas.

Highest and lowest-paying jobs and salary ranges

These are the highest and lowest-paying jobs and their salary ranges, according to a Trade Me survey of recent job advertisements. 

Note that:

  • this information is a guide only
  • pay rates can vary widely within a job
  • these rates don't include overtime or bonuses, or other parts of salary packages such as a car
  • some jobs, such as medical specialities, are not included as they are not usually advertised on Trade Me
  • the survey doesn’t cover people who are self-employed or own a business.

To see salary ranges for over 400 jobs, visit our jobs database.

Highest-paying jobs 

Median income over $100,000

  • Building project and contract managers – $55,000 to $165,000
  • Finance managers and controllers – $51,000 to $185,000
  • Information technology architects – $80,000 to $225,000

Median income $90,000 to $99,000

  • Business and systems analysts – $55,000 to $207,000
  • Construction site managers – $50,000 to $145,000
  • Engineering project managers – $55,000 to $155,000
  • Executive and general managers – $43,000 to $207,000
  • IT roles – $45,000 to $207,000*
  • Quantity surveyors – $55,000 to $135,000
  • Surveyors – $46,000 to $155,000

Median income $80,000 to $89,000

  • Architects – $45,000 to $125,000
  • Banking analysts – $47,000 to $170,000
  • Construction estimation – $45,000 to $135,000
  • Civil and structural engineers – $45,000 to $140,000
  • Energy engineers – $50,000 to $125,000
  • Facilities and commercial property management – $43,000 to $145,000
  • Geotechnical engineers – $50,000 to $145,000

Lowest-paying jobs

Median income $34,000 – $39,999

Incomes below the minimum wage may indicate seasonal or part-time work.

  • Au pairs and nannies – $25,000 to $45,000
  • Automotive – $33,000 to 75,000
  • Bar staff and baristas – $25,000 to $55,000
  • Chef – $27,000 to $55,000
  • Call centre – $33,000 to $55,000
  • Cleaners – $30,000 to $60,000
  • Customer service – $33,000 to $55,000
  • Data entry – $28,000 to 47,000
  • Horticulture – $25,000 to $75,000
  • Housekeeper – $25,000 to $47,000
  • Labourer – $25,000 to $55,000
  • Kitchen staff – $25,000 to $42,000
  • Process and assembly workers – $25,000 to 57,000
  • Reception – $27,000 to $47,000
  • Retail assistants – $32,000 to $50,000
  • Storepeople and warehouse workers – $27,000 to $67,000
  • Tourism and tour guides – $25,000 to $60,000
  • Waiting staff – $25,000 to $45,000

Sources 

Further information

Find out more

Careers New Zealand website

Updated 27 Aug 2018