Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Security Workers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

There will be increased demand for security workers over the next years. This will make it reasonably easy for new graduates to enter this industry. The occupation of corrections officers in particular has a combination of low fees, secure jobs and decent wages.

How to become a security worker

What they do

Security workers maintain order and control in prisons and provide security services to public and private events. This occupation includes security guards who patrol areas to prevent theft, trespassing and other wrongdoing. Private investigators investigate and prepare reports for individuals and organisations.

Their tasks may include:

  • patrolling and guarding properties, and checking for unauthorised entry
  • providing armed escort for the transport of cash and other valuables
  • maintaining order at venues where there are large gatherings of people
  • conducting investigations for clients
  • advising clients on security requirements and recommending and designing security specifications
  • observing the conduct and behaviour of prisoners to prevent disturbances and escapes
  • supervising prisoners during work assignments, recreational periods, sporting activities and meals.



To become a corrections officer, you need to have a clean criminal record and a driving licence. You also need to be able to drive a manual gear car. After applying for a corrections officer role to the New Zealand Department of Corrections, successful applicants will go through three-week introductory programme called Frontline Start. Next, they undertake a year of role-specific training. This training enables trainees to complete a National Certificate in Offender Management (Level 3). For more information on becoming a corrections officer, see the Department of Correction’s website.

Other kinds of security workers need to have a private security Certificate of Approval (COA). This proves they are qualified to perform the tasks of their occupation. Depending on the specific role, the private security licence is obtained either by proving that you have the necessary skills, or that you have done the correct training. For more information on how to get a COA, see the Ministry of Justice website, or the New Zealand Security Association’s website.

The required courses for obtaining a Certificate of Approval is part of the National Certificate in Security (Level 2), which is offered by the Skills Organisation and many polytechnics and private training establishments. Certificates are also available at higher levels. Refer to the Skills Organisation’s website for more information about their qualifications.

Department of Corrections, Corrections Officer:
Ministry of Justice, Licensing and Certificates:
New Zealand Security Association, training: 
The Skills Organisation, learning pathways:

Cost of study

Corrections Officer training

Successful Corrections Officer applicants get training for free. They also get paid while training. Note that there could be costs involved for applicants to meet the minimum requirements to apply, for example getting a driving licence or first-aid certificate.

For other security workers, the cost of study depends on the individual training pathway. Fees vary between different polytechnics and training establishments. Employers will sometimes pay for new recruits to go through the necessary training. Check directly with the desired training establishment for details on costs.

Where to study

The initial three-week training programme for Corrections Officers takes place in Wellington. The rest of the training is completed on-site at the prison they work in.

Qualifications for other security workers can be gained through polytechnics and private training establishments in most parts of New Zealand. The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for security workers is the Skills Organisation. It approves which training programmes can lead to a National Certificate.

The Skills Organisation:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Level 1, 2 or 3 certificate in Security Services has increased in recent years. This is likely to reflect how many people were hired by security companies, as those companies put their new employees through the training after hiring.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The annual income for security workers is estimated to be around $41,900. Income depends on experience and the specific role. For Corrections Officers, the salary is $50,480 while training, and in $51,942 - 62,176. when working as a fully qualified Corrections Officer.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on New Zealand Income Survey 2018

Employment and skill shortages

Security workers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
6,219 6,714 8,270 9,050
  1.1% 3.5% 1.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Prison and Security Officers”.

The number of security workers in employment increased from 2006 to 2013. This trend is expected to continue, with over 3% growth projected until 2026. This increase in employment makes it likely that new security workers will get a job.

Corrections officers work in eight-hour shifts and prisons need to be staffed at all hours, every day of the year. This means it is likely that a corrections officer will have to work some inconvenient hours such as nights, weekends and public holidays.

Other kinds of security workers also work on nights and public holidays. Bouncers mostly work in the night and evening and often during the weekend.

Some security worker roles, such as private investigators, are often self-employed. Because of this, their salary and amount of work they get depends on their skills and reputation.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes of qualification*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
15% 5% 2% 73% $43,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of L1, 2 or 3 Certificate - Security Services.

Three years after graduation, most security workers were either in employment or overseas. The median salary was around $43,000 three years after graduation.

Security workers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage list

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of vacancies for security workers has grown much faster than the average for all occupations, perhaps reflecting a recent rising demand for these workers.  

Jobs advertised chart


Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

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

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Security workers can aspire to senior positions within security companies, and can manage other security workers. They can go into special security work, for example, security around important events. In some security worker roles (for example, security consultants, private investigators), a relatively high proportion of workers are self-employed.

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 security workers.

  • Bodyguard
  • Bouncer
  • Corrections Officer
  • Crowd Controller
  • Police Officer
  • Private Investigator
  • Prison Officer
  • Probation Officer
  • Retail Loss Prevention Officer
  • Security Consultant
  • Security Guard

Other information


More information on security workers is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" video.

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


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

The occupation of security workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

442 – Prison and Security Officers