Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Software Developers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Software developers, particularly those with some experience, are in high demand. There is a shortage of software developers in New Zealand, and continuing growth in job vacancies.

The number of developers has grown steadily over recent years, but demand is expected to continue increasing in the fast-developing ICT industry.

How to become a software developer

What they do

Software developers write, test, develop and maintain computer software.

Their tasks may include:

  • researching, consulting, analysing and evaluating system program needs
  • identifying technology limitations and deficiencies in existing systems and associated processes, procedures and methods
  • testing, debugging, diagnosing and correcting errors and faults in an applications programming language within established testing protocols, guidelines and quality standards to ensure programs and applications perform to specification
  • writing and maintaining program code to meet system requirements, system designs and technical specifications in accordance with quality accredited standards
  • writing, updating and maintaining technical program, end user documentation and operational procedures
  • providing advice, guidance and expertise in developing proposals and strategies for software design activities such as financial evaluation and costings for recommending software purchases and upgrades.

Qualifications needed

Software developers require a strong understanding of the underlying concepts and principles of software development, and some experience with development environments and languages. This knowledge can be gained through informal practical experience, but programmers usually have one or both of the following:

  • a tertiary qualification in computing, information systems, or related field, or
  • in some instances, specialist certification in security, testing or other standards.

Oracle certification: 
Microsoft certification:

Cost of study

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science
$20,500 over three 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

Software developers gain many skills on the job and attend a wide range of courses to update their knowledge and techniques. Most tertiary institutions in New Zealand provide training in computer science, information systems, ICT and other related fields.


The Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) is the ICT sector’s professional body. It works to improve education and professional standards in the ICT industry in New Zealand and around the world. Although there are many ICT-related organisations and groups in New Zealand, IITP is the only professional body. It also accredits IT Professionals in New Zealand via two professional certifications. – CITPNZ and CTech.

It is expected that software developers who hold professional accreditation will have a significant advantage in the job market; they will command a higher level of pay than those without professional accreditation.

Further information on certification can be found in the IITP website.

IITP certification:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing computer science or information systems degrees has continued to grow grew from  2011 to 2016. This is not expected to be enough to meet demand.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2018, the average income for software developers was $88,100.  Incomes vary widely – depending on their responsibilities, experience, the type of programming work they do, and geographic location.

Estimated Average Income

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

Employment and skill shortages

Software developers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
13.074 17.100 22,110 25,470
  3.9% 4.4% 2.4%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Business and Systems Analysts, and Programmers”

There has been a strong growth in the number of software developers employed in recent years, resulting in almost a doubling of employment from 2006 to 2013. There is also strong projected employment growth of around 4.4% per year from 2018-23 and 2.4% 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
14% 8% 2% 75% $56,000

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

Most graduates were in employment three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Relatively few were in further study, and some were overseas. The median salary was around $56,000 at that point.

A number of specific occupations for software developers appear on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list, including:

  • Multimedia specialist
  • Web developer
  • Analyst programmer
  • Software engineer
  • Software tester
  • Other software and applications programmers
  • ICT systems test engineer

The long-term skill shortage list always applies for all regions. If a job is on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in these jobs from overseas to work in New Zealand. It also means that domestic graduates have very good job prospects. 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 software applications programmers has been falling since 2013, while the number for all occupations has increased. Considering that employment is growing fast, this could mean that this industry often recruits through other channels.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Vacancies for software developers are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek and, increasingly, through social media like LinkedIn.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Once a software developer has learnt the required fundamental skills, they may progress to become senior programmers, software architects, or chief information officers.

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 software developers.

  • Business Analyst
  • Game Designer
  • Game Developer
  • Game Programmer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Information Technology Manager
  • Multimedia Specialist
  • Programmer
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Systems Administrator
  • Test Analyst
  • Web Developer
  • Web Programmer

Other information


More information on software developers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


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

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

261211 – Multimedia Specialist
261212 – Web Developer
2613 – Software and Applications Programmers
263213 – ICT Systems Test Engineer