Job Prospects... At a glance
Employment opportunities for healthcare support workers are good due to increasing demand for their services from an ageing population. Work opportunities can be found in both the public and the private sectors, but wages are often low.
Health support workers are sometimes also called caregivers community care workers or healthcare assistants. Collectively they are often called the Kaiāwhina workforce. They provide assistance, support and care to aged and disabled people in their homes, in residential facilities and hospitals. Health support workers work under the direction of a regulated health practitioner such as a nurse or a doctor.
Health support workers are normally required to complete New Zealand Level 2 or 3 qualifications after starting employment. Formal qualifications may be substituted by at least one year of relevant experience. Many employers encourage and support health support workers to complete formal qualifications as part of their role.
Many health support workers are also required to complete an in-house training programme provided by employers. This may involve basic care, health and safety procedures, and training on how to handle medical equipment. They may also need a first-aid certificate and/or a driver’s licence (although this usually isn’t needed to start out).
Health support workers in aged and disabled care can obtain qualifications such as:
|Certificate in Healthcare Assistance/Support||Certificate in Health, Disability and Aged Support*|
|$1,650 over 17 to 18 weeks||$650 over 17 weeks|
*This course can be free for students that meet Youth Guarantee criteria. National certificates can cost up to $4,000 in fees for 22 weeks.
Average costs in 2015 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Further costs include student levies, administrative fees, materials, textbooks and accommodation.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides helps with detailed budget planning.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
There are a number of polytechnics, institutes and private teaching establishments that provide Level 3 or 4 qualifications relevant to this occupation. A list of schools providing relevant qualifications is available at Careers New Zealand.
The number of students completing Levels 3 and 4 certificates related to healthcare assistance decreased from 475 in 2013 to 435 in 2014 (a drop of 8.4%). Of the 435 students who completed their certificate, 285 were in Level 4 certificates.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
The income of health support workers employed by district health boards depends on their experience. Those new to the occupation earn about $35,000 a year, whereas those who have gained two to three years' experience can earn between $39,000 and $40,000 a year. These rates are based on full time work, while many in this occupation are likely to be working part time and earning less.
Pay rates for health support workers working in private and non-profit sectors vary from organisation to organisation. This, plus the extensive use of part time work means that wages can often be lower than what is outlined below.
|First year||Two to three years|
Source: District Health Boards/New Zealand Nurses Organisation, 'Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA)', 1 March 2012 - 28 February 2015.
Health support workers’ employment
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Personal Carers and Assistants”.
The number of health support workers was fairly stable between 2006 and 2013. Employment is expected to be quite stable out to 2025. Many people work in this occupation, which means there will usually be many openings for new workers.
Many health support workers have flexible hours and may have to work late nights or very early mornings. This can also mean they will be paid penal rates if they have a collective agreement.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
Healthcare assistant vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs, Seek, and Kiwi Health Jobs.
Health support workers who have not had the opportunity to gain formal qualifications and would like to go further in a health support role can obtain further training and higher qualifications. Doing further study may increase opportunities for healthcare assistants to work with the elderly and people with disabilities in the public or private sector, or in hospitals. Some employers will support their employees in doing further qualifications as employers must be able to show that their staff is appropriately qualified.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level health support workers.
More information for healthcare assistants is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Community Health Worker
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Community Healthcare
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Mental Health
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Public Health Programme Coordinator
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Public Health Promotion
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Community Care and Support
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of health support workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:
4233 – Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers