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Elected Representatives

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Becoming an elected representative is very hard because you must run a successful public campaign to get elected. Competition is very tough for most seats, particularly at the national level. Most successful candidates have significant previous professional and political experience.

How to become an elected representative

What they do

Elected representatives are elected by the people in a country, city, or other geographical unit to represent them in a legislature or government. They make laws, interact with constituents, and participate in debates and interviews to explain and promote their positions. Legislators who get elected to government have responsibility for the operations of their government.

Their tasks may include:

  • developing national, state, territory or local government policy, and formulating, amending and repealing legislation and by-laws
  • helping constituents with a range of problems particularly with regard to matters concerning government and local agencies
  • investigating matters of concern to the public and to particular persons and groups
  • introducing proposals for government action and representing public and electoral interests
  • issuing policy directions to government departments and exercising control over local government authorities
  • attending community functions and meetings of local groups to provide service to the community, gauge public opinion and provide information on government plans
  • serving as a member on parliamentary committees and inquiries
  • presenting petitions on behalf of concerned groups.


To be eligible to be an elected representative in New Zealand, you need to be over 18-years old, enrolled as a parliamentary elector, and be a New Zealand citizen.

No qualifications are required to become an elected representative. There are elected representatives with qualifications at all levels, and in many different fields. However, degrees in law or political studies are not uncommon, and business degrees are becoming more common.  

Although it is not a formal requirement, it is common to have extensive professional experience before becoming an elected representative, particularly at the national level. Experience in business, law, or the community sector, or in student union elections or labour unions can all be useful.

To become an elected representative, you need to stand for election and win a seat in a legislative body. This is very hard, and generally it becomes harder for higher levels of government. Becoming a Member of Parliament is more difficult than becoming a local councillor, for instance.

Cost of study

No post-school study is required to become an elected representative. However, it is common that elected representatives, particularly those at the national level, will have a high degree of tertiary study, often in the social, political, economic and/or business fields.

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the annual income for elected representatives was estimated to be around $89,300. Income varies depending on the level of government. At the lowest level, councillors often have part-time positions and need another job to support themselves. At the highest level, Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers have a very high remuneration (income plus benefits).

Estimated Average Income

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

Employment and skill shortages

Elected representatives’ employment

2006 2013
822 831

 Source: Statistics NZ Census. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.

The number of elected representatives increased slightly from 2006 to 2013. Employment depends on the number of government districts and the number of seats in each district. The trend seems to be that government is slowly restructuring towards fewer districts, but with more seats in each district. Between 2006 and 2013, these forces seem to have largely cancelled each other out.

Elected representatives are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage list

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Because government representatives are elected, not hired, there are no job advertisements.

Career path

It is common for elected officials to start out at the lower levels of government, such as a local/community board or council. Ambitious representatives often go on to stand for election as mayor or representatives at higher levels of government such as regional councils or Parliament.

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 elected representatives.

  • City Councillor
  • Community Board Member
  • District Councillor
  • Legislator
  • Mayor
  • Member of Parliament
  • Politician

Other information


More information on elected representatives is available on the Careers New Zealand website. More information on how local government works in New Zealand is available on the Ministry of Internal Affairs website on local government.

Ministry of Internal Affairs, local government:
Careers New Zealand:


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

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

1113 –Legislators