Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in New Zealand

Illustration of various professionals such us a doctor, a pilot, a construction workers, a chef, a nurse, a photographer and an astronaut standing next to each other with the New Zealand flag behind them and a city skyline as a backdrop

With its beautiful, rugged landscapes, laid back way of living and friendly attitude, it’s no surprise that New Zealand is an attractive destination for those who are looking to relocate.

It’s also one of the best places in the world to work, with average salaries at the top end of the scale across all industries. The question is, though, who makes the most? And just how much are they bringing home?

We’ve crunched through the numbers to find out, so join us as we reveal the 10 highest-paying jobs in New Zealand.

10. Lawyer

Average salary: NZ$111,440 ($75,680)

Law is a fairly solid career option, regardless of where you are in the world, and New Zealand is no exception. Qualified solicitors and barristers are always in demand, with tax law and financial law particularly lucrative fields to be in.

If you are coming from overseas, then you will need to be admitted to the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand, as well as hold a current practising certificate from the New Zealand Law Society. Depending on your qualifications, this may involve sitting an exam (or parts of), while you may even be required to gain extra university credits on specific subjects.

9. Management consultant

Average salary: NZ$111,490 ($75,720)

If you come from a legal or business background, possess strong interpersonal skills and have good industry knowledge, then a career in management consulting could be a good fit – especially in New Zealand, where the average salary for consultants is noticeably high.

Even graduates can start on a salary of around NZ$50,000 ($33,960) at one of the top consulting firms, while there is scope to push past the NZ$200,000 ($135,830) mark with significant experience. If you want to take your skills around the globe, you can also register with the Institute of Management Consultants New Zealand (IMCNZ) and apply for the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certificate, which is recognised internationally.

8. Software engineer

Average salary: NZ$112,600 ($76,470)

Few jobs are as popular and in-demand as software engineering right now, with talented programmers able to take their pick when it comes to their career prospects.

According to the New Zealand government, the IT sector is one of the fastest growing in the country, too, so now is a good time to get involved. Top tech companies, such as Fujitsu, have made New Zealand their home, while projected skills gaps and shortages could provide lucrative opportunities for those wishing to relocate.

7. Construction manager

Average salary: NZ$114,930 ($78,060)

Tech isn’t the only thing doing well in New Zealand, with the country’s construction industry also showing signs of good health. Construction managers, in particular, are reaping the benefits of a boom predicted to last through until 2021, while there are numerous large-scale government projects that are in the planning process.

In New Zealand, there is no set requisite for entry into construction management, but significant and extensive experience is a must. It can also help if you have a background in civil engineering or surveying, or a diploma (or similar) in construction management.

6. Investment banker

Average salary: NZ$117,200 ($79,600)

When it comes to investment banking, New Zealand might not immediately jump out as a potential destination. While your peers are in the heart of the action in New York City, London and Hong Kong, you may feel as though you’ve been cut adrift in the wilderness of Middle Earth.

Except, as this list shows, you can still pursue a highly lucrative banking career in New Zealand. Aside from the larger global banks, the country also hosts several sizeable domestic investment banks such as Forsyth Barr, Cameron Partners and Murray & Co, with plenty of opportunity to grow your skills and your portfolio, and make a pretty penny in the process.

5. Oil and gas engineer

Average salary: NZ$117,960 ($80,120)

‘Oil and gas engineer’ can be taken as a broad term, as all kinds of engineers work within the energy industry, but it’s primarily petroleum engineers who make the big bucks. They utilise their knowledge of the science behind water, oil and gas in order to identify and verify potential drilling sites and, given how lucrative the oil industry is, are recompensed handsomely for this important role.

There are several active oil fields in New Zealand, primarily located in the Taranaki Basin on the west coast of the country, while there are also offshore exploration areas just off the coast of Canterbury and Gisborne. Plenty of opportunities, in other words, for engineers to make a healthy living.

4. Accountant

Average salary: NZ$120,560 ($81,880)

As you may already be able to tell from this list, the professional services and corporate sector pay well in New Zealand. Accountants are not excluded from this, with their set of skills attracting lucrative salaries not just among the top accounting firms but across other industries, too. For example, many accountants specialise in financial management or consulting, using their expertise to land plum executive roles.

New Zealand recognises the chartered status of most accountants, but general accountants must study a programme that is approved by the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) or CPA Australia. Even if you are already chartered, you may also need to gain additional certification that covers New Zealand-specific accounting practices and laws.

3. Real estate agent

Average salary: NZ$122,500 ($83,200)

Due to the aforementioned construction boom, New Zealand is a good place to be a real estate agent right now. The country’s relatively small population is always growing, with prime urban locations such as Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury becoming hotbeds for property developers.

Of course, most estate agents work on commission, so salary estimates are variable upon sales performance, but as a desirable location for skilled immigrants and locals alike, there are plenty of opportunities for realtors to take advantage of. It’s also worth noting that you will need to gain a real estate licence from the Real Estate Authority (REA) before you can start selling.

2. Actuary

Average salary: NZ$123,760 ($84,050)

As in most countries, actuaries – professional risk managers who utilise statistical sciences to calculate insurance premiums – are very well paid in New Zealand. Like accountants, they’re not necessarily restricted to their respective practice either; many actuaries become company directors or work in other management positions.

New Zealand recognises actuaries who are Associate or Fellow members of approved international bodies (such as the Institute of Financial Accountants in the UK and the Casualty Actuarial Society in the US) and, if you are fully qualified, then it’s simple to become a member of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries (NZSA). If you’ve got experience and something to offer at the mid-senior level, then New Zealand could be a very wise option.

1. Systems architect

Average salary: NZ$127,690 ($86,720)

While close neighbours Australia might still have the edge in terms of general IT opportunities, systems architects still do well for themselves in New Zealand. In fact, they take the top spot in many countries, where this highly technical but hugely important role is increasingly in demand.

This is mainly because systems architecture is about more than just being technically savvy. They also need to demonstrate leadership prowess, organisational skills and an understanding of the commercial needs of their employer. Such a combination of talents makes them highly valuable, making it no surprise that it ranks as the highest-paid job in New Zealand in 2019.

As you can see, there’s more to New Zealand than Middle Earth. There’s the opportunity to blend a high quality of life with an interesting and well-paid career, too, especially if your job appears on this list!

Have you recently emigrated to New Zealand? What tips and advice would you give? Let us know in the comments section below.


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 18 June 2015.

Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 27 March 2019.