Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for a career in accounting are good, and should remain so because of growing demand for accounting services and financial advice.

This career usually requires a degree, and your job prospects are better with membership of a professional accounting body. Becoming a professionally qualified accountant requires work experience and some further study.

How to become an accountant

What they do

Accountants prepare financial accounts for businesses and individuals. They also advise on financial matters, such as tax and reporting compliance requirements.

Being a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) gives you a recognised base of knowledge that can lead to a successful career in commerce, business and finance. Many of New Zealand's largest companies have CAs or CPAs as chief financial officers and some are chief executives. 

Skills employers look for

According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:

  • a variety of financial accountancy skills, including account reconciliation, budgeting and invoicing
  • the ability to use particular software, especially Microsoft Excel, but in some cases also SAP, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, Oracle, and others
  • good communication, attention to detail, and organisational skills.

 Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool

Qualifications needed

Accountants usually require a commerce degree majoring in accounting or finance.

Most people working as accountants are also members of either Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ) or CPA Australia. This is because membership is preferred by employers.

To become a professionally qualified accountant you need to complete EITHER:

  • A three-year degree at an approved tertiary institution, OR
  • The Master of Professional Accounting (Accountancy) offered by universities (this is done after completing a bachelor’s degree – which need not be in commerce)

AND the CA ANZ or CPA Program, which includes a series of modules of further study, plus practical experience.

Cost of study

Bachelor of CommerceCA/CPA Programme
$19,500 over three years $6,500 - $7,400

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 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.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

Accounting and finance can be studied at tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand. If you are looking to become a professionally qualified accountant, you'll need to study at an approved tertiary institution. A list of these can be found on either the CA ANZ or CPA websites.

CA ANZ-approved accountancy programmes:

CPA-approved accountancy programmes:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing accountancy qualifications has been relatively steady over the past few years.

Completed qualifications chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2017, the average income for accountants was estimated to be around $66,300, but not all of these people will be professionally qualified accountants. The average income for fully qualified accountants is $140,700.

Estimated Average Income

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

Employment and skill shortages

Accountants’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2021 2025
47,718 48,999 61,465 70,744
  0.4% 3.8% 2.9%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Accountants, Auditors and Company Secretaries”.

Employment numbers for accountants were stable between 2006 and 2013. Towards 2026, demand for accountants is expected to rise by around 3% each year as the economy continues to improve. A quite high proportion of accountants leave New Zealand to work overseas, which also creates vacancies.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
13% 1% 0%



Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Accountancy.

A large majority of graduates were in employment three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some were overseas or in further study. The median salary was around $54,000 three years after graduation.

Accountants are not on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job advertisements for accountants fell from 2012 to 2014, but there has been some growth since then.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Accountancy vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek and, increasingly, through social media like LinkedIn.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

A career in accountancy is more diverse than many people think. Accountants work in a range of industries including government, law, entertainment and advertising, as well as in small and medium accountancy practices and the large accountancy and finance companies.

After fundamental skills are learned, accountants often look to specialise into roles such as:

  • Financial planner
  • Auditor
  • Chief financial officer
  • Tax specialist
  • Forensic accountant.

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 accountants.

  • Accounts Administrator
  • Accounts Clerk
  • Accounts Officer
  • Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Bookkeeper
  • Economist
  • Finance Manager
  • Financial Broker
  • Financial Controller
  • Payroll Clerk
  • Payroll Officer
  • Treasurer

Other information


More information on accountancy is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:

More information on becoming a professionally qualified accountant is available on the following websites:

Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand:
CPA Australia:


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

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

2211 – Accountants
551 – Accounting Clerks and Bookkeepers