Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Engineering Professionals

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

There is a shortage of engineering professionals in New Zealand, and new graduates are in high demand. Many engineering jobs are on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists; this means the government is encouraging engineering professionals to migrate to New Zealand. Engineering New Zealand particularly encourages women to consider a career as an engineer.

How to become an engineering professional

What they do

An engineering professional designs, builds, or maintains structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.

Engineering professionals specialise in a particular sub-discipline. For instance, electronics engineers study, design and oversee production of electronic equipment, whereas civil engineers design, plan, organise and oversee the building of infrastructure. Other sub-disciplines include electrical, industrial, mechanical and structural engineering.

About 20% of professional engineers are civil engineers, this is followed by mechanical engineers (18%), structural engineers (11%), and electrical engineers (10%).

Their tasks may include:

  • planning and designing chemical process systems, civil engineering projects, electrical power equipment and facilities, electronic components used in computer and industrial applications, mechanical equipment and systems, mining and drilling operations, and other engineering projects
  • drafting and interpreting specifications, drawings and plans, and determining construction methods
  • supervising the construction of structures, water and gas supply and transportation systems, and the manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance of equipment, machines and plant
  • organising and managing project labour and the delivery of materials, plant and equipment
  • estimating total costs and preparing detailed cost plans and estimates as tools for budgetary control
  • resolving design and operational problems in the various fields of engineering through the application of engineering technology.


Engineering New Zealand (formerly IPENZ) is the professional body and registration authority for engineers in New Zealand.

There are several pathways to becoming a professional engineer. The most common way is to complete a four-year Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree and seek employment as a BE-graduate. After typically five or six years’ work experience, graduates are often able to demonstrate competence as professional engineers and gain registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng registration).

Other alternatives are to complete a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) degree as an engineering technologist, or a Diploma of Engineering as an engineering technician; and then develop higher levels of knowledge (usually with additional tertiary study) and skill while working.

After several years’ employment with appropriate supervision, mentoring and suitable work experience, engineering technologists or engineering technicians may undertake competence assessment for professional engineer quality benchmarks (such as CPEng registration). This pathway takes much longer to acquire the levels of competence required of a professional engineer, but is an option if opportunities for university study are not available or affordable early in a person’s career.

Often, professional engineering qualifications have strict academic prerequisites for entry, and a limited number of places.

Engineering New Zealand accreditation provides graduates with the added benefit of enhanced international recognition of their engineering qualification.

The Futureintech website (operated by Engineering New Zealand) is designed to promote careers in engineering. It has a great deal of information about engineering, including: qualification pathways for engineering students, subjects that should be taken in school to prepare for a qualification in engineering, and information on scholarships and cadetships.


Cost of study

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering
$22,900-$30,500 over three to four years

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

The Futureintech website provides a comprehensive list of all professional engineering courses in New Zealand. The Engineering New Zealand website provides a list of qualifications that have been accredited as meeting internationally benchmarked standards.

Engineering New Zealand:

Chartered Professional Engineer

A qualified professional engineer may choose to become a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng), which is recognised as a quality benchmark for independent practice as a professional engineer.

To be registered as a CPEng, a professional engineer must:

  • undertake an assessment of competence by the Registration Authority to gain initial registration; then undertake additional assessments at least every six years to retain registration
  • agree to be bound by the CPEng Code of Ethical Conduct.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering or related technologies has shown a slow trend upwards in recent years.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The median salary for graduate engineers was $60,000 base salary. For engineers with an independent practice, the median was $85,000 ($92,000 total remuneration).

The salary increases with responsibility and seniority.

Estimated median base income by career stage


Independent Practice

Team Leader

Technical Manager

General Manager






Median base income forEngineering New Zealand member employees. From IPENZ Remuneration Survey 2017.

Employment and skill shortages

Professional engineers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
18,279 21,552 26,140 29,890
  2.4% 3.3% 2.3%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Engineering Professionals”.

The number of engineers in employment rose between 2006 and 2013. This number is projected to keep rising at over 2.3% per year out to 2028.

Employment chart


Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
13% 16% 2% 81% $65,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission

*Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Civil Engineering.

Most graduates were in employment three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Relatively few were in further study, while a significant number were overseas. The median salary was around $65,000.

We expect there to be continued demand for civil, electrical, and structural engineers in the Canterbury region as the rebuild of Christchurch continues.

There are a number of specific engineering occupations on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list and the Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL). The lists include, for example, civil engineer, structural engineer and electrical engineer.

If a job appears on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage 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:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for civil engineers increased steadily until 2017, and at a slower rate over the last two years.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Engineering professionals’ vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Most engineering professionals start out as graduate engineers. They work under more senior engineers to gain experience and an understanding of the job.

With greater seniority, engineers may become part of, or gain responsibility for, larger and more complex projects. They may also take leadership and supervisory roles.

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 engineering professionals.

  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Building and Construction Manager
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Geologist
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Mining Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Software Engineer
  • Telecommunications Engineer

Other information


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

Careers New Zealand: 
Engineering New Zealand: 
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Civil Engineering
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Civil Engineering


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

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

233111 – Chemical Engineer
2332 – Civil Engineering Professionals
2333 – Electrical Engineers
2334 – Electronics Engineers
2335 – Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers
233611 – Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum)
233911 – Aeronautical Engineer
233912 – Agricultural Engineer
233913 – Biomedical Engineer
233915 – Environmental Engineer