Then and now: New Zealand's highest paying jobs

Do you know which jobs earn the biggest pay packets? We reveal New Zealand’s highest paying jobs and compare them to the top average annual salaries five years ago.

A strong economy has meant good news for workers over the past five years, putting more money in their pockets… and it’s set to get even better.

High export prices, low import prices and a construction boom have all combined to push business profits up, making more money available for hiring staff.

Strong population growth has increased demand for goods and services, but it’s also created a larger labour pool, and that’s restricted wages growth – although there are indications that’s about to change.

BNZ Senior Economist Doug Steel says New Zealand’s high workforce participation rate (71%) and low level of unemployment (4.4%) means additional labour – especially skilled labour – is scarce.

He says this labour shortage is intensifying pressure on wages so some companies will have to consider paying more if they don’t want to lose the best talent to their competitors.

“Employees have a sense the environment is tight enough that maybe wage demands can be met,” says Steel. “Five years ago it was more about job security than trying to get a pay rise.”

Click the tabs below to compare the highest paying jobs in 2018 versus 2013:  

  • 2013 salaries
  • 2018 salaries

Role type
2013 salary
1 Mining, Resources & Energy Mining - Exploration & Geoscience $142,228
2 Mining, Resources & Energy Oil & Gas - Drilling $133,073
3 Healthcare & Medical Medical Specialists $132,407
4 Mining, Resources & Energy Mining - Engineering & Maintenance $127,913
5 Mining, Resources & Energy Management $123,933
6 Information & Communication Technology Architects $122,322
7 Insurance & Superannuation Management $117,023
8 Mining, Resources & Energy Oil & Gas - Production & Refinement $116,944
9 Consulting & Strategy Management & Change Consulting $116,614
10 Engineering Management $116,146
11 Accounting Financial Managers & Controllers $115,756
12 Information & Communication Technology Management $115,173
13 Banking & Financial Services Banking – Corporate & Institutional $114,905
14 Banking & Financial Services Management $110,203
15 Mining, Resources & Energy  Surveying $109,423
16 Real Estate & Property Retail & Property Development $108,919
17 Information & Communication Technology Consultants $108,492
18 Human Resources & Recruitment Management – Internal $106,346
19 Marketing & Communications Management $105,595
20 Information & Communication Technology Sales – Pre & Post $105,415

Source: SEEK Salary Report, July 2012 - June 2013 vs July 2011 - June 2012

2013 versus 2018

Perhaps not surprisingly, SEEK salary data shows management roles dominate the top 20 highest earners list.

Managers in the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) field sit at the top of the rankings, averaging around $128,000 a year. In 2013, they sat at number 12, with an average yearly income of $115,200.

Managers for insurance, mining, finance, engineering and construction companies all feature in the top ten, while internal HR and recruitment managers are ranked at number 13 with an average salary of $113,200 a year.

Other high paying jobs are ICT Architects who came in second place on $127,700 p.a. and Real Estate & Property Development (fifth place) on $122,500.

The noticeable difference from five years ago is the absence of many of the mining jobs from the top 20.

In 2013 they held six of the top 20 highest paying jobs – including four of the top five. In 2018 only those in management (fourth place) and engineering and maintenance roles for the oil and gas sector (seventh place) made the list.

“Mining has certainly come off the boil since 2013,” says Steel. “It’s part of a global story, commodity prices are not as strong – oil prices halved, although have lifted a bit of late.”

What salaries are ready to rise?

SEEK’s industry data shows the strongest salary growth in the last five years was in the Design & Architecture industry (28.5% growth) going from an average $65,500 in 2013 to $84,200 in 2018.

The highest paying industry is Construction, which has grown by more than 20% to an average salary of $101,600.

Other sectors with strong salary growth have been Community Services & Development (15.2%), Farming, Animals & Conservation (13.7%), Administration & Office Support (13.2%) and Education & Training (12.9%).

“Construction is expected to have more growth and activity ahead,” says Steel.

“The difficulty for construction will be to find the labour. Firms are screaming it’s difficult to get both skilled and unskilled labour.”

Why is ICT king?

ICT Managers and ICT Architects are the number one and two highest salary earners in the country, according to SEEK data. ICT Consultants also do well in 15th place with a $112,600 salary, up from $108,400 five years ago.

Tom Derbyshire is the Manager of Technology and Digital for recruitment company Hudson.

He says where once IT was a backroom function, the demand for data and analytics, greater digital security and efficient systems has catapulted it to C-level status.

ICT is one of New Zealand’s strongest industries. Its GDP lifted 31% over the last five years, and the NZ government wants to make it the second largest sector of the economy by 2025.

Derbyshire says high-level IT roles carry huge amounts of responsibility with system failures and data breaches potentially devastating to finances and brand.

He says while money still talks, employers should also be selling new technologies they’re offering or projects that contribute to the good of the nation.

The biggest mistake you can make, says Derbyshire, is to assume they only want to work for you. Instead, you need to convince them they’re needed and valued.

“By the time a candidate has got to the offer stage, they’ve probably got two or three offers under their belt.

“The money might be there but ultimately it comes down to how they’re treated at the interview. It’s human nature to want to go to the one that’s told you how amazing you are.”

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