The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for

The Spinoff

A study using salary data, employment prospects, skill shortages and training positions suggests aspiring engineers, builders, teachers, midwives and panel beaters are off to a great start.

One of the most difficult choices in a young person's life is deciding what they want to study. They have to think about what they like doing, what they're actually good at, and what sort of jobs will be around for them when it comes time to enter the workforce. Remember: automation is here and the robots are coming, regardless of whether we like it or not. Anywhere from 24 percent to 46 percent of jobs are predicted to disappear in the next two decades with labourers, drivers, machinery operators, and those working clerical or admin jobs set to be the first to go.

Today's students will be best prepared for work after 2020 with a qualification and skill set that can't be outsourced, automated or disestablished. In light of this, MoneyHub - a consumer-focused online resource - has compiled a list of 20 jobs students ought to be studying for in 2019. Using government data on salaries, employment prospects, skill shortages and training positions, the following 20 listings take into account jobs that have more vacancies than graduates, a proven track record of employment, overseas demand, and are dynamic enough that you can specialise in various areas within the field. The study also notes that guidance from careers advisors was also taken into account.

"You'll probably only get one shot at a tertiary education; the time and money spent (and foregone) is too great to repeat it. It's perfectly reasonable for university students to change courses in their first year because of various reasons, but it is expensive if you do this later when you are far down the wrong track," says senior researcher Christopher Walsh. "[That's why] we wanted to offer impartial information about what courses offered students the best chance of being engaged and employed after they graduate."

"Government data suggests that, overall, employees with degrees in law, accounting, finance, engineering, science and health earn significantly more than their counterparts with diplomas or certificates," says Mr Walsh. "[But we know that] many students go to university and waste money and time when there are better alternatives that suit their skills, interests and talents. There's a perception that 'offices' are more respected than 'trades'. This too is a dangerous mentality."

"The right course [is the one] that satisfies your interests, talents and aspirations. Do that and you won't regret your decision."

So with that in mind, here are 12 degree-based and eight trade-based jobs that rise above the rest when it comes to higher education opportunities. Note that these are listed in no particular order.

For a full rundown of the data used, read the full study here. Additional information on jobs was accessed via the Careers NZ website.

Degree-based jobs

 

Civil Engineer

 

Business people talking in quarry
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What is it? Civil engineers design, plan, organise and oversee the building of structures such as roads, bridges and water supply systems.

Why is it a top 20 job? Throughout New Zealand, there's a massive shortage of civil engineers with new roading projects, government-funded infrastructure and housing projects all needing staff. There are good employment opportunities abroad as well. Civil Engineering also pays well - the most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $50,000 with strong growth potential as you progress.

What qualifications do you need? There are two pathways to becoming a professional civil engineer. The most common pathway is to complete a four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree with Honours. You can also complete a three-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) degree to become an engineering technologist.

Pros: Good salary, outdoor environment, continuous problem-solving, opportunity to explore the world, standard working hours (ie: Monday to Friday), opportunities to specialise in a particular area, pride from seeing a completed project being used every day.

Cons: Working from remote locations/away from home.

Career change potential: Good. Civil engineers can work in the public and private sectors, become consultants and go into management.

Related jobs: Architect, mechanical engineer, building and construction manager, civil engineering technician/draughtsperson, environmental engineer.

Software Developer / Programmer

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Software developers develop and maintain computer software, websites and software applications.

Why is it a top 20 job? There are numerous IT-related jobs on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, including software engineer, database administrator, systems administrator, ICT security specialist and network administrator. Because of this shortage of local IT professionals, there's been a large rise in foreigners immigrating to fill positions. Worldwide, programmers, IT architects and software developers are in high demand, and the salaries on offer can be higher in Australia. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $57,000.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific requirements, but a tertiary qualification (generally three years) in computing, software engineering, information systems or business computing are commonly sought by employers.

Pros: Many areas to specialise in, constantly changing technology, very good salaries, jobs constantly being created as new businesses set up in New Zealand and existing companies adapt to new technology.

Cons: It can be long hours and most jobs are concentrated in the main cities (Auckland, Wellington) with limited opportunities in the regions.

Career change potential: High. IT is very broad, and while your first job may be in something quite specific, there'll be room to pivot later on.

Related jobs: Business analyst, IT helpdesk/support technician, IT manager, systems administrator, user experience (UX) designer.

Medical Doctor

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Doctors, and specifically general practitioners (GPs), care for, diagnose and treat the health problems of individuals and families in the community.

Why is it a top 20 job? Everywhere in New Zealand there are reports of shortages of doctors, and it's the same story in Australia. Working as a doctor pays very well - the most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $92,000, with strong growth potential as you progress.

What qualifications do you need? To become a GP takes a total of 11 years. First, you have to complete the first year of a Bachelor of Health Sciences at either the University of Auckland or Otago. Those that do well can then go on to do a five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. Graduates then have to work for two years as a house officer (supervised junior doctor) in a hospital before completing another three years of specialist training and examinations to become a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Pros: Excellent salary, people-facing, continuous problem-solving, opportunities to specialise in a particular area, job satisfaction from treating patients, overseas work possibilities.

Cons: In the short term/depending on where you work, there's usually a lot of shift work, long hours, hospital politics, lack of control or input into funding, emotional connection to patients, high-intensity work environment.

Career change potential: Fair. Doctors have the ability to work in the public and private sector, specialise in an area of medicine, manage health centres or government healthcare, work overseas (with some limitations), become consultants or go into management.

Related jobs: Anaesthetist, pathologist, audiologist/audiometrist, surgeon, gynaecologist/obstetrician.

Teacher (Primary and Secondary)

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? School teachers plan, prepare and teach one or more subjects to students of about five-to-18-years of age.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has a long-term teacher shortage crisis as teachers retire and fewer young people follow in their footsteps. We've placed it as a top 20 job because despite media reports of teachers being underpaid, earnings data suggest that starting salaries are reasonable. Moreover, teachers continue to report high workplace satisfaction and happiness with their day-to-day routine. The shortages of teachers mean demand is high, and teaching overseas can be highly lucrative in the short and long-term. Most of all, teaching has been generally undervalued by society (which doesn't sound like a positive), but we believe this is changing slowly.

What qualifications do you need? To become a secondary school teacher you either need to have a Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Teaching conjoint degree, or a specialist subject degree followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching or a Master of Teaching.

Pros: Teachers frequently say that the job is varied and very rewarding. It's also people-facing and involves continuous problem-solving. A New Zealand teacher has significant overseas work possibilities with high salaries offered specifically in Australia and the Middle East.

Cons: Teachers repeatedly complain about the high workload, issues with parents demanding time outside of school hours, lack of appreciation and a highly intense working environment.

Career change potential: Fair. Teachers can move into administration (assistant principal, principal etc) or specialise in careers counselling or similar. Teachers who change careers often find employment in the public and private sector in any number of roles.

Related jobs: Early childhood teacher, kaiwhakaako Māori, psychologist.

Physiotherapist

Closeup shot of an unrecognizable physiotherapist treating a patient
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What is it? Physiotherapists work to maintain and promote people's health. They help restore function and independence when people have a disability or a problem caused by physical, brain or nervous system disorders.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand foresees a long-term shortage of physiotherapists - a trend seen in Australia and the UK. Physios aren't paid as much as other health professions, but there's room to grow as many physios specialise and/or become self-employed. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $47,000.

What qualifications do you need? You'll need a Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy which takes four years to complete.

Pros: Reasonable starting salary, people-facing, satisfaction from treating and helping patients to resolve their issues, opportunities to specialise in a particular area, overseas work possibilities.

Cons: It's high-energy work and can be long hours. Difficult patients can also be problematic.

Career change potential: Fair. Physios have the ability to work in either public or private sectors, and can specialise in areas such as orthopaedics, paediatrics and sports physiotherapy with elite athletes and sports teams. Many physios go on to buy their own practice, work overseas, become consultants and/or go into practice management.

Related jobs: Chiropractor, occupational therapist, massage therapist, osteopath, acupuncturist.

Veterinarian

 

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Vets treat sick and injured animals, provide general animal care, and advise about health care and disease prevention for pets and farm (production) animals.

Why is it a top 20 job? Job prospects for veterinarians are generally very good, particularly in the rural sector, where there's a vet shortage. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $57,000.

What qualifications do you need? To become a vet, you need to complete a five-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science course (Massey University is the only institution that offers the degree).

Pros: Good salary, people and animal-facing, hands-on job, a variety of areas to specialise in, job satisfaction from treating animals and making them feel better, varied day-to-day patients (ie: all sorts of animals coming through).

Cons: Physically demanding (restraining animals, standing, lifting), continuous exposure to a range of irritated animals (some bite, kick, scratch), and the hours can be unsociable (evenings, weekends and holidays). Animal owners can be hostile and need to be managed, especially as some treatments won't be available financially to some owners (meaning the animal will not be treated).

Career change potential: Limited. Vets can go on to manage a practice, buy a practice and/or specialise in a particular area (ie: equine).

Related jobs: Veterinary nurse, animal care attendant, zookeeper, dog trainer.

Nurse

Nurse getting blood from on a female donor
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What is it? Registered nurses assess, treat, care for and support patients in hospitals, clinics, residential care facilities and their homes.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has a shortage of nurses, with public hospitals, in particular, seeking graduates. The issue has become significant due to many nurses now entering retirement. Australia also has a massive shortage, where the salaries on offer can be higher. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $44,000.

What qualifications do you need? To become a registered nurse you first need to have either a Bachelor of Nursing, a Bachelor of Health Sciences, or a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing.

Pros: Reasonable salary, people-facing, hands-on job, variety in areas to specialise in, job satisfaction from treating patients, overseas work possibilities, engaging and high-octane environment.

Cons: Relatively lower pay compared to other professions throughout career progression. Nursing can also be physically demanding (standing, lifting, walking, running) and shift work is likely if you work at a hospital which often involves working during weekends and holidays.

Career change potential: Reasonable. There are so many aspects within the health industry that a career pivot to a specialised area is relatively easy. Nurses can move into midwifery and other related careers without significant additional study.

Related jobs: Midwife, nursing support and care worker, GP.

Quantity Surveyor

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Quantity surveyors manage finances for construction projects. They calculate budgets based on clients' requirements and prepare detailed estimates to ensure budgets are sufficient for each stage of construction.

Why is it a top 20 job? Throughout New Zealand, infrastructure and construction projects are booming, and more big-scale development is planned for the coming decades. Quantity surveyors play a key role in these projects by preparing tenders based on estimated building and construction costs. There's a massive shortage of quantity surveyors in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, meaning employment opportunities are strong. The job also pays well: while there's no degree-specific earning data, Stats NZ data estimates that new quantity surveyors earn $40,000 to $55,000 a year, whereas fully qualified quantity surveyors (with some experience) usually earn about $75,000 to $150,000 a year.

What qualifications do you need? Either a New Zealand Diploma in Quantity Surveying or a Bachelor of Construction (Construction Economics or Quantity Surveying).

Pros: Good salary, outdoor environment, continuous problem-solving, opportunity to explore the world, standard working hours (ie: Monday to Friday), opportunities to specialise in a particular area, pride from seeing a completed project being used every day.

Cons: You'll need to be fit and prepared to work in remote locations/away from home.

Career change potential: Good. A quantity surveyor can take on many roles, including project management, being an expert witness, negotiating, and resolving disputes. Quantity surveyors can work in the public or private sector, become consultants, or go into management.

Related jobs: Building surveyor, architect, architectural technician, project manager, accountant.

Radiographer (Medical Radiation Technologist)

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Medical radiation technologists use X-ray and other imaging equipment to take images of injuries and diseases.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has a shortage of radiographers with public hospitals, in particular, seeking graduates. Australia also has high demand, and the salaries on offer can be higher. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $57,000.

What qualifications do you need? You either need a Bachelor of Medical Imaging, a Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology), or a Bachelor of Health Science (Medical Imaging) which usually take about three years to complete.

Pros: Good salary, people-facing, hands-on job, variety of areas to specialise in, job satisfaction from treating patients, overseas work possibilities.

Cons: It's physically demanding work (standing, lifting) and you may be exposed to radiation. Hours may require you to work weekends and holidays.

Career change potential: Limited. Radiographers can later work in angiography and mammography, or study towards MRI, ultrasound and nuclear medicine. Radiographers can also manage a practice or work in research.

Related jobs: Biomedical engineer, cardiac physiologist, diagnostic radiologist, radiation therapist, phlebotomist.

Accountant

Close-up Of A Businessman Calculating Invoice At Office Desk
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What is it? Accountants provide accounting systems and services relating to taxation and the financial dealings of organisations and individuals.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has a shortage of accountants around the country despite the reasonable starting salaries and comfortable office environments. Accountants offer a range of services, from auditing, business consulting, taxation advice and other useful services. Accountants who qualify in New Zealand are professionally recognised overseas, with Australia and the United Kingdom being the biggest growth markets.

What qualifications do you need? To become an accountant you need to have a commerce, business or accounting degree majoring in accounting which takes a minimum of three years.

Pros: Reasonable salary, regular working hours (ie: 9 to 5) in most cases, people-facing, exposure to different industries, a variety of areas to specialise in, and overseas work possibilities. Graduates also report working in high-energy, sociable and engaging environments.

Cons: Many aspects are repetitive such as financial reporting which needs to be done monthly. Roles overseas are also often contract-based and can lack career progression opportunities.

Career change potential: Huge. Qualified accountants can gravitate to any number of industries and take up positions that go beyond the standard accounting role. Examples include sales management, marketing management and operations management. Many qualified accountants 'stay on' in their roles and become 'financial analysts', 'business partnership accountants' and 'group reporting managers'. Chartered accountants have unlimited potential to pivot, but those unwilling or happy to stay in the core accounting services will find plenty of opportunities.

Related jobs: Auditor, accounts officer, finance manager, quantity surveyor.

Midwife

 

Pregnant woman examining by a doctor with a stethoscope
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What is it? Midwives provide care and support to women, their partners, and their family during pregnancy, labour, birth, and for six weeks following birth. They also provide wellness and parenting information and education for mothers and their families.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has a chronic shortage of midwives, especially in Auckland and in some rural areas. The issue has become significant due to many midwives now retiring and an increasing population size overall. Right now, there's never been a higher demand for the profession. Midwives work hard, but share the satisfaction of safely preparing and delivering babies into the world. The most recent government data confirmed a typical starting salary of $49,000.

What qualifications do you need? To become a midwife you need to complete a Bachelor of Midwifery - a four-year equivalent degree programme combining theory and practice that's completed over three years.

Pros: Reasonable salary, 100 percent people-facing, hands-on job, a range of different clients with a number of needs, continuous problem-solving, job satisfaction from helping mothers and babies, overseas work possibilities, engaging and high-energy environment.

Cons: The hours can be unpredictable if self-employed making it difficult to take time off. Shift work is mandatory at public hospitals and it can be physically demanding. Births can also experience complications.

Career change potential: Limited. Midwifery is fairly specialised, but many midwives go on to start their own business and take as many (or as few) clients as they come as the government pays per client.

Related jobs: Registered nurse, GP, gynaecologist/obstetrician, nursing support and care worker, health services manager.

Dentist

 

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Dentists study and treat diseases, injuries and problems of the mouth, teeth, gums and jaw.

Why is it a top 20 job? Not only does New Zealand have a shortage of dentists, but demand is huge in Australia where the salaries on offer are high. The most recent government data confirmed a median starting salary of $61,000, with strong growth potential as you progress.

What qualifications do you need? To become a dentist you need to complete the Health Sciences First Year programme at Otago University and then the four-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (Otago is the only tertiary provider that offers the course).

Pros: Good salary, people-facing, a hands-on job, opportunities to specialise in a particular area, job satisfaction from treating patients, overseas work possibilities.

Cons: Dentistry is very physically demanding as it requires long periods of time spent completing precise and minutious work with your hands and having your eyes focused on a small area. Setting up or buying a practice later on can be very expensive and dental equipment does not come cheap.

Career change potential: Limited. Dentists have the ability to work in the public and private sectors, specialise in a specific area of dentistry, own and manage a dental practice and work overseas (with some limitations).

Related jobs: Surgeon, dental technician, oral health therapist, GP.

Certificate, diploma, apprenticeship and trade-based jobs

 

Chef

Chef preparing stuffing for ravioli, grating parmesan cheese
Photo credit: Getty

 

What is it? Chefs prepare and cook food in restaurants, hotels, catering businesses, rest homes, cafes and bars.

Why is it a top 20 job? Working as a chef has become a passport to travel, work and gain practical experience that builds a career along the way. Demand within New Zealand for chefs is at record highs, given the tourism boom and more New Zealanders choosing to dine out. There are many areas where chefs work, meaning 9 to 5 careers are possible in the right environment. The Army, Navy and hospitality giants like SkyCity all take on apprentice chefs and pay successful applicants a salary as they train them.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific requirements to become a chef. However, a cookery qualification may be useful, such as a two-to-three year, on-the-job apprenticeship, including study towards a New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Cookery).

Pros: Reasonable salary, people-facing, hands-on job, creative, constantly changing, problem-solving, and team management. There are unlimited overseas work possibilities and being a chef means working in an engaging and high-octane environment. Many chefs build up their experience and go on to open their own restaurant or catering company.

Cons: Physically demanding work (standing, lifting, walking), confined workspace/kitchen, shift work likely in most establishments, hours most likely unsociable (evenings, weekends and holidays).

Career change potential: Reasonable. Chefs get more experienced and move up the kitchen hierarchy, manage kitchen staff, work alongside restaurant managers and owners, and potentially open their own restaurant or cafe.

Related jobs: Cook, baker, waiter, cafe/restaurant manager, kitchenhand.

Electrician

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems and equipment.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand has an electrician shortage with this continuing in the long term. Day-to-day work is mostly involves working inside. The job also pays well and continues to be an area that attracts ambitious young people looking for a trade.

What qualifications do you need? To become an electrician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering - Electrician for Registration (Level 4).

Pros: Reasonable salary with potential to earn more with your own business later on. Also: working in a team environment with like-minded people, social atmosphere, and continuous training and development.

Cons: Physically demanding (standing, crawling into small spaces, climbing), requires working from heights, chance of injury (usually from not following safety instructions or strained muscles) and more exposure to dust from building sites.

Career change potential: Reasonable. Registered electricians can start their own business and can specialise in domestic work (wiring up houses), maintaining equipment in a large industrial plant, and everything else in between.

Related jobs: Automotive electrician, line mechanic, telecommunications technician, electronics trades worker, electrical engineering technician.

Roofer

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Roofers repair or install roofs using materials such as roofing iron, tiles and shingles.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand's trade shortage includes roofers, and while it's hard work and 99 percent outdoors, roofers are predicted by government data to be in long-term demand, with Auckland and Christchurch being the hot spots for employment. Roofing is an outdoors profession that's high-energy, varied, physical and constantly changing. It pays a reasonable salary, and roofers work in teams to complete a number of different-sized projects. Roofers are often self-employed, meaning they own and manage their own business. Salaries are reported to be increasing, and start at around $50,000 per year.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific entry requirements to become a roofer as you gain skills on the job. However, employers often prefer to employ someone with a qualification or is willing to become qualified. To become a qualified roofer you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Roofing - Installer (Level 4).

Pros: Reasonable salary, team environment, working with like-minded people, social atmosphere, continuous training and development as no roofing project is the same as the next one. Many roofers gain experience and go on to start their own building company.

Cons: Physically demanding (standing, lifting, walking), requires working from heights, higher chance of injury (usually from not following safety instructions or strained muscles) and more direct exposure to heat and sun.

Career change potential: Reasonable but somewhat limited. Roofers can specialise in tiling, working with a particular material, specific roofing techniques, start their own company or sub-contract for large projects, or go into project management.

Related jobs: Building contractor, building and construction labourer, carpenter, plumber/gasfitter/drainlayer.

Plumber / Gasfitter / Drainlayer

plumbing and tools lying on drawing for repair. Focus on the word cold
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What is it? Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers assemble, install and repair pipes, drains and fixtures and fittings that supply water and gas or remove waste.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand's Master Plumbers Association continues to claim there's a shortage of plumbers with Auckland and Queenstown being hotspots for jobs. Plumbers can specialise in new-builds, emergency plumbing, large-scale industrial development or a bit of everything. Because of the shortage and because it's an essential skill to society, plumbers are making good money and have strong prospects of staying fully employed. Plumbers work in varied locations and every job is different. Plumbing pays a very good salary if you're self-employed, put in the hard work and run a successful business. According to Master Plumbers, once registered, you can expect to get a wage of around $55,000, with the potential to earn beyond $100,000 later on.

What qualifications do you need? To become a plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer, you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate (Level 4) in plumbing and gasfitting or drainlaying, and be registered with the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.

Pros: Reasonable salary, team environment, working with like-minded people, social atmosphere, continuous training and development as no plumbing project is the same as the next one, creative work and constantly changing environments and problem-solving. 90 percent of qualified plumbers are self-employed or work in a company of less than five people.

Cons: Physically demanding work (crawling around, climbing, negotiating tight spaces). The profession also has a reputation for being messy which is mostly undeserved. There's a chance of injury (usually from not following safety instructions or strained muscles) with a lot direct exposure to heat and sun.

Career change potential: Reasonable but somewhat limited. Plumbers can start their own company or sub-contract in to large projects or go into project management.

Related jobs: Roofer, fabrication engineer, mechanical engineer, refrigeration/air-conditioning technician.

Farm Worker

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Farm workers help farmers with a variety of tasks, including raising and caring for livestock, repairs and maintenance, tractor work, and other farming activities.

Why is it a top 20 job? Not since the early settlers' arrival in New Zealand has there been a more urgent need for young people to take up farming. Farm work is the backbone of the New Zealand economy and there are many opportunities within farming. Technology is also changing and improving farming practices, meaning that what you learn and practice will continue to advance. Demand for new farm workers is projected to continue beyond 2020, meaning plenty of employment options are likely to be available.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific entry requirements for becoming a farm worker, but many employers prefer to employ farm workers who have completed a pre-employment farming programme or are working towards a related qualification.

Pros: Reasonable salary, fantastic skill development (shearing, tractor use, haymaking, repairs and maintenance, animal maintenance), working with like-minded people, continuous training, constantly changing environments and problem-solving.

Cons: Physically demanding (standing, running, lifting, walking), higher chance of injury (usually from not following safety instructions or strained muscles), outside work in all weather conditions all year round. Farm work usually involves early starts (for dairy farms especially) and exposure to heat and sun.

Career change potential: Reasonable. Farm workers learn a number of skills and can pivot to specialise in dairy, sheep and beef, deer, pigs etc.

Related jobs: Agricultural/horticultural consultant, farmer/farm manager, dairy farmer, crop farmer, wool classer.

Builder

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Builders plan, supervise and work on the construction and alteration of buildings.

Why is it a top 20 job? Builders are in huge demand given a nationwide shortage, and there's a range of areas to work in once qualified. Builders are often self-employed meaning they own and manage their own business. Salaries are reported to be increasing and many builders earn over $100,000 every year.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific requirements to become a builder, but high school students in Year 11 and 12 can learn more about the construction industry by doing a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (Levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme. For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience. Otherwise, a New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry or other building qualification may be useful.

Pros: Reasonable salary, team environment, working with like-minded people, social atmosphere, continuous training and development as no building project is the same as the next one, creative work and constantly changing environments and problem-solving. Many builders gain experience and go on to start their own building company.

Cons: Physically demanding work (standing, lifting, walking), higher chance of injury (usually from not following safety instructions or strained muscles) and confined workplace (ie: a building site).

Career change potential: Reasonable. Builders can specialise in any number of areas, start their own company or sub-contract into large projects or go into project management.

Related jobs: Building and construction manager, carpenter, concrete worker, quantity surveyor, joiner.

Automotive Technician

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Automotive technicians service and repair vehicles and their parts and systems. For many automotive technicians, the work involves checking faults, working on engines, performing Warrant of Fitness checks, vehicle upgrades and of course, dealing with customers.

Why is it a top 20 job? New Zealand's MTA and recent media reports both recognise that there's a chronic shortage of qualified automotive technicians throughout New Zealand. But beyond the skills shortage, automotive technicians can grow into workshop management roles or look to buy their own workshop later on. Because of the shortage and because it's an essential skill to society, automotive engineers are making good money and have strong prospects of staying fully employed.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific requirements to become an automotive technician. However, employers usually prefer you to have a qualification and full driver's licence for the type of vehicle you are working on. To become a qualified automotive technician, you need to complete an apprenticeship in light or heavy vehicle automotive engineering.

Pros: Reasonable salary, team environment, working with cars, problem-solving, continuous training and development, no vehicle issue or request is like the other, working with your hands and working in a social environment.

Cons: Physically demanding work (crawling around, negotiating tight spaces). Garages also have a reputation for being dusty and dirty but this is often undeserved as many are very clean.

Career change potential: Reasonable but somewhat limited. Automotive technicians can specialise in heavy vehicles, roadside rescue, management of workshops and/or start their own company.

Related jobs: Automotive electrician, automotive refinisher, coachbuilder/trimmer, collision repair technician, vehicle groomer/cleaner.

Panelbeater (Collision Repair Technician)

The 20 top jobs New Zealanders should be studying for
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What is it? Collision repair technicians repair and replace damaged body parts of cars and other vehicles.  It's a hands-on job working with welders, 3D measuring equipment, and all makes and models of vehicles to repair or rebuild as needed.

Why is it a top 20 job? Collision repair technicians can grow into workshop management roles, or specialise in insurance assessment. Because collision repair professionals are in such huge demand, qualified professionals are making good money and have strong prospects of staying fully employed. It's a job that offers variety in an industry that's constantly changing and advancing with new technology.

What qualifications do you need? There are no specific requirements to become a collision repair technician. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair may be useful.

Pros: Reasonable salary, in-demand job all over New Zealand, team environment, working with cars, problem-solving, continuous training and development, constant challenges as no vehicle issue or request is like the other, working with your hands, working with customers and anticipating their needs, working in a social environment.

Cons: Physically demanding work (removing and adjusting car bodywork, working with heavy tools). Garages also have a reputation of being dusty and dirty but this is often undeserved as many are very clean.

Career change potential: Reasonable. Collision repair technicians can specialise in a particular make of vehicle and work exclusively in a dealership. Skills include welding and metalwork which are transferable. Qualified and experienced collision repair technicians can begin to manage a workplace, and there's an opportunity later on to start your own company.

Related jobs: Automotive technician, automotive refinisher, fabrication engineer, coachbuilder/trimmer, tyre technician.

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