Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Community Workers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for community workers are good. Employment numbers are growing and getting a job should not be hard to find. They can work in various settings such as aged, disability, home and community, mental health and addiction, non-profit organisations, non-government and government institutions. Income is slightly below average for community workers.

How to become a community worker

What they do

Community workers work with individuals, families and organisations to improve the welfare of the community. They support people in a range of different ways in order to develop the community.

Some community work occupations work with specific community groups including the elderly, people with disabilities, people with mental health or addiction issues, beneficiaries and young people. Two examples of how community support work in specific roles are: Youth workers work with young people by helping them develop quality relationships, build healthy connections, and provide guidance regarding education, training and employment. Probation officers make sure offenders comply with their community-based sentences and orders as imposed by the court and motivate and encourage offenders to make positive changes in their lives.

Their tasks may include:

  • assessing clients' needs and planning, developing and implementing educational, training and support programs
  • interviewing clients and assessing the nature and extent of difficulties
  • monitoring and reporting on the progress of clients
  • referring clients to agencies that can provide additional help
  • assessing community need and resources for health, welfare, housing, employment, training and other facilities and services
  • liaising with community groups, welfare agencies, government bodies and private businesses about community issues and promoting awareness of community resources and services
  • supporting families and providing education and care for children and disabled persons in adult service units, group housing and government institutions
  • supervising offenders on probation and parole
  • assisting young people to solve social, emotional and financial problems
  • preparing submissions for funding and resources, and reports to government bodies and other agencies.


There are no entry requirements for community workers, although a Certificate in Community Work, Youth Work, Support Work or a related field may increase the chances of finding employment Some employers provide workplace training through partnership with an Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that supports qualification completion from Level 2 - 7. Apprenticeships in the health and wellbeing and social and community sectors are available at Level 4. Depending on the specific job, you may also be required to pass a police check.

For probation officers, a tertiary degree in fields such as criminology, psychology or sociology is preferred. Probation officers also need a driving licence and have no serious criminal convictions. Probation officers go through six months of mandatory pre-employment training.

Cost of study

The least expensive way to get a qualification is to engage in workplace training supported by an employer and an ITO to complete a Certificate in community work or related fields. Careerforce is the ITO that supports on-the-job training for several nationally recognised qualifications that are relevant for community workers.

Alternatively, many polytechnics and private training establishments also offer relevant qualifications. These will usually be more expensive, although some may have zero-fees schemes.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students who are studying through polytechnics, and the Sorted website provides help 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.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

Careerforce supports relevant on-the-job training for community workers throughout New Zealand. Qualifications are also offered at polytechnics and private training establishments in many parts of New Zealand.


Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the annual income for community workers is estimated to be around $39,200. Income depends on experience and the particular role. The income for probation officers is higher.

Estimated Average Income

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

Employment and skill shortages

Community workers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
7,449 10,905 12,770 13,880
  5.6% 2.7% 1.4%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the broader category “Health and Welfare Support Workers”.

The number of community workers in employment rose strongly between 2006 and 2013. The growth in employment is projected to continue out to 2028, but at a slower rate. This means there should be some opportunities for new graduates.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

 Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
9% 36% 4% 53% $32,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission.
*Three years after completion of L5-7 Certificate - Human Welfare Studies & Services.

Three years later, among graduates with a Level 5-7 Certificate in Human Welfare Studies and Services, most are in employment, but a high proportion is in further study. The median salary three years after completion is around $32,000.

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

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

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

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

Community workers usually work either for private organisations, non-profit organisations or for the government. They can specialise in working with certain groups, for example, Māori, youth or refugees. Community workers can move into more specialised roles, clinical roles, project management or team-leader roles by further training or completing tertiary qualifications.

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 community workers.

  • Community Karitane
  • Community Support Worker
  • Corrections Officer
  • Counsellor
  • Disabilities Services Officer
  • Disability Support Worker
  • Employment Support Worker
  • Homecare Support Worker
  • Housing Social Worker
  • Mental Health and Addiction Support Worker
  • Minister of Religion
  • Navigator
  • Peer Support Worker
  • Police Officer
  • Probation Officer
  • Social Housing Tenancy Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Support Worker
  • Whānau Ora/ Family Support Worker
  • Youth Facilitator
  • Youth Support Worker
  • Youth Worker

Other information


More information on community workers 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 community workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

4117 – Welfare Support Workers