Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Science Technicians

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Prospects for science technicians are improving as research funding increases. The best opportunities lie in the applied sciences, and in fields that the government has prioritised for funding: biological industries, health, environment, and high-value manufacturing and services.

How to become a science technician

What they do

Science technicians help scientists carry out research, testing and experiments in areas of science such as chemistry, earth sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences.

Science technicians usually specialise in a particular scientific discipline, such as:

  • Chemistry: help chemists and chemical engineers carry out research, testing and experiments on organic and inorganic chemicals. They work with a wide variety of products including fuels, food, pharmaceuticals, paints, metals, plastics, and cosmetics.
  • Earth Sciences: collect and test earth and water samples, record observations, and analyse data in support of geologists or geophysicists.
  • Life Sciences: identify and collect living organisms, and conduct field and laboratory studies in support of environmental scientists and life scientists such as physiologists, biologists, botanists, or zoologists.

Qualifications needed

Science technicians generally require a relevant degree in science or technology. Some employers require a National Diploma in Science (Level 5 or 6), whereas others require a Bachelor of Science or a master’s degree in the relevant area of specialisation.

Cost of study

National Diploma in ScienceBachelor of Science
$11,000 over two years $18,600 over three years

Average costs in 2015 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. 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.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

Bachelor and postgraduate degrees in science are available from all universities. The National Diploma in Science is offered is offered at a number of polytechnics.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing qualifications in science has slightly increased in recent years. The number of completed bachelor’s degrees rose from 2,290 to 3,020 between 2007 and 2013 (up 35%).

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2016, the average income for science technicians was $51,500.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Science technicians’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
5,100 5,040 5,545 5,840
  -0.2% 1.4% 1.0%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Agricultural, Medical and Science Technicians”.

There has been little growth in the number of science technicians employed in recent years. Forecasts are for stable growth in the number of science technicians out to 2025.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
16% 58% 1% 37% $39,100

Source: Ministry of Education
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Biological Sciences.

‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Most graduates were in further study two years after completing a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences. Some were overseas, while almost none were receiving a benefit. The number of people in employment was small compared to other occupations. This is because many people go on to further study. The median salary was around $39,100 two years after qualifications.

Science technicians are not on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Science technician vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Science technicians may be employed by crown research institutes (CRIs), universities and polytechnics, or private-sector companies.

With experience, science technicians may move into more senior roles, including management. Those who gain postgraduate qualifications may go on to work as research scientists.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level science technicians.

  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Agricultural Technical Officer
  • Agricultural Technician
  • Biochemist
  • Chemistry Technician
  • Earth Science Technician
  • Hydrographer
  • Life Science Technician
  • Medical Laboratory Technician
  • School Laboratory Technician
  • Zoologist

Other information


More information on science technicians is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand:
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Medical Laboratory Scientist


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of science technicians has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

3111 – Agricultural Technicians
3114 – Science Technicians