career pathways

Career Pathways: Most popular study options in NZ

At this time of year many prospective and current students are preparing for a year of studies ahead. Exams, labs, practical assignments, internments etc. We have a diverse range of study options available in New Zealand. Some people follow their passion or interest, while others choose degrees where they see a set pathway into work. But what are the most popular current study subjects or career pathways in New Zealand?

Most popular jobs and courses in New Zealand

In 2020 the most popular job in New Zealand was a police officer, followed by a registered nurse and a psychologist. These three job opportunities took the top spot in 2017 through to 2019 also. For a study pathway, a police officer requires training at the police college in Wellington. However there are also some roles within the police such as a 111 call taker that do not require police college training. 

Both the position of a registered nurse and a psychologist require a specialised degree. Nursing can be studied at a range of polytechnics and universities. And psychology courses are offered at most NZ universities and some polytechnics. Further specialisation in these areas can be acquired through postgraduate studies also. Nursing in particular has a high employment after graduation, as currently New Zealand is experiencing a nursing shortage. Particularly in the area of aged care. 

Other popular jobs include general practitioners, accountants and teachers. With the Chief Executive of Tertiary Education stating that people often aspire to careers where they can make a difference.

International students 

Popular career pathways and study options for international students to New Zealand are slightly different. Many international students choose to come to New Zealand for postgraduate studies, through sponsorship programs or scholarships. This means a high demand for higher education studies such as masters in business, medicine, engineering or phd qualifications.  The New Zealand education website provides information for international students looking to study in NZ, particularly those looking for funding or scholarships. Additionally many international students may also choose to improve their English through TESOL courses. Or be required to do a foundation course for English. 

Career pathways with high employment prospects in 2022

According to careers.govt the work environments with the highest future career prospects were as follows: medicine and healthcare, renewable energy and green jobs, information technology, international or environmental law, content creation/marketing, data science, and financial analysis. These areas are all very broad, and many of them are not currently in the most popular career pathway in New Zealand. However they are good options to go into, as many of them are developing areas.

Top Earning Certifications

In 2016 there was an analysis conducted using data from the NZ census and university data to figure out the qualifications with the best returns and worst. “The figures were based on the average earnings, tax and student loan costs over the working life of students in 72 different fields, compared to the working-life earnings of people with no tertiary qualifications.” They split the categories into certification status to give a clearer idea of the overall lifetime earning, including the student loan. 

The biggest return for a certificate level certification was banking and finance with an average lifetime return of $892,398. For those with bachelor’s degrees are medical degrees, law and civil engineering. All with above a $1million lifetime return. And other certifications with more than 1 million lifetime returns included various engineering qualifications, maritime technology and economics. The full analysis can be seen here.  

Shopless has offered an analysis of the current popular career pathways in New Zealand. And what careers are the top earning, with their certifications. If you have completed your studies and are looking for a job, make sure to check out the jobs section of Shopless, here. And find a range of great employment prospects to start your career journey.