Job Prospects... At a glance
Prospects for building contractors are good. Increased demand is being driven by a recovering commercial building sector and large road and infrastructure projects.
Building contractors and construction project managers plan, organise, direct, control and co-ordinate the construction of civil engineering projects, buildings and dwellings, and the physical and human resources involved in building and construction. Building contractors often do smaller projects, while construction project managers are involved in bigger civil engineering projects.
According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:
Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool
There are no specific qualifications needed to be a building contractor, but you must have the skills and experience needed to manage and complete building projects. Most are carpenters who become building contractors after years of experience.
Construction project managers require extensive experience in the construction industry. The job typically also requires one of the following qualifications:
Useful secondary school subjects include English, maths and technical drawing. Year 11 and 12 students can learn about the construction industry and gain relevant skills 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 also a good way to gain industry experience.
|National Diploma of Construction Management (Level 6)|
|$12,000 over two years (Full-time)|
Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to feesfree.govt.nz. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
As part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Licensed Building Practitioners Scheme, certain building work is required to be carried out or overseen by a licensed building and construction manager. To get a licence, building or construction managers have to prove their experience and/or have appropriate qualifications.
Licensed Building Practitioners Rules: www.business.govt.nz/lbp
Completions of Level 5 to 7 diplomas in building construction management dipped to 145 in 2015 and rose to 215 in 2017.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
In 2017, the average income for building contractors was around $58,000.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Building contractors’ employment
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Construction, Distribution and Production Managers”.
The number of building contractors in employment fell slightly from 2006 to 2013. Going forwards to 2021, employment is expected to increase at around 2.0% per year before rising at a slower rate until 2026.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
|Overseas||In further study||Receiving a benefit||In employment||Median Salary|
Tertiary Education Commission *Three years after completion of L4 Certificate – Building.
Three years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Building, 58% of graduates were employed and 10% were overseas. The median annual salary at that point was around $45,000.
Project builders (a specific category of building contractors) are on Immigration New Zealand's Long-Term Skill Shortage List for all regions. Construction project managers are on the Immediate Skill Shortage List and Long-Term Skill Shortage List for all regions.
If a job appears on the lists, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.
Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz
The number of online job vacancies for construction managers has increased rapidly since 2010, and much quicker than the average of all occupations.
Jobs advertised chart
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Vacancies for project builders are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.
Construction project managers need extensive experience in the construction industry. Some experienced project managers also start up their own building and construction companies.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level building contractors.
More information on construction managers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of project builders has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:
1331 – Construction Managers