Engineering jobs

Here’s your chance to combine outstanding professional opportunities with a lifestyle you just won’t find anywhere else.

Imagine being able to apply and develop your skills in a busy and varied engineering environment – then in half an hour or less, be relaxing on a beach, hiking through beautiful native bush, pounding down a mountain bike track or just chilling with friends in your back garden over a fine New Zealand craft beer or wine.

That’s what you can look forward to when you bring your skills to New Zealand.

Engineers needed

Engineering skills are in chronic short-supply in New Zealand. 

That’s why engineering roles figure consistently on the official lists of ‘Essential Skills in Demand’ (ESID), as of mid 2019.

If a job is on one of these skills shortages lists, it means the Government accepts that there aren’t enough New Zealanders qualified for the role so employers need to recruit from overseas. Assuming you have the right qualifications and experience, that will make getting a visa easier.

The lists are updated regularly. As at mid 2019, engineering shortages include:

  • Engineers, from virtually every discipline: chemical (also known as process engineers here), civil, electrical, electronics, environmental, geotechnical, industrial, materials, mechanical, production, and structural specialities
  • Draughtspersons: civil, electrical and mechanical
  • Technicians: civil, electrical, and mechanical.

Skill Shortage List checker | Immigration New Zealand

Engineering jobs (02:20)


Peter Mathewson:

Our business is an infrastructure business, we are involved with all aspects of infrastructure, development and maintenance.

So that could be buildings, roads, bridges, waste treatment plants, reticulation systems, what ever it takes I guess to support life, more or less.

In New Zealand we have about 1650 staff, we are the largest engineering consultant in New Zealand.

Infrastructure is a very important part to New Zealand economy. The Government in recession, to stimulate the economy it needed to stimulate infrastructure development. The engineering and construction marketplace generally has done reasonably well.

New Zealanders are just generally innovative, and inventive. We find that we can make a dollar probably last a little bit longer and go a bit further in New Zealand than people overseas just because we have to.

We’ve currently got a worldwide recruitment campaign on the go for structural and technical engineers and we’re marketing in across Europe, Ireland, through the UK, through Europe, Canada and USA.

So engineering is very transferable, we have a real diverse mix of staff within New Zealand, we 32 have different nationalities. Its neat that we have people with different engineering experiences from around the world its great it adds value. The different cultures add value as well too and make it an interesting mix of people to work with.

We have an interesting culture in our business; we have a very family oriented business. New Zealand businesses have slightly less formal structures to them, than we find in other parts of the world.

One of the fundamental differences that we see when people do come to New Zealand is, they come for lifestyle, so they come for the clean green image, they come for the quality of life, the access to beaches and to forests and it’s a different way of life, far more relaxed way of life I think.

New Zealand has got a nice friendly culture anyhow, we are just a welcoming sort of group of people, it’s just the way the nation is I guess. It’s an easy place to move around, the quality of life is pretty good, the standard of living is excellent.

Most people within New Zealand if they have to travel more than about 15 minutes think that’s a hardship. I think that’s what some people see when they do come to New Zealand – particularly from the UK where they might travel up to 2 hours to get to the office, that just doesn’t happen within New Zealand so you have more time.


If your particular role is not on a shortage list, don’t be disappointed. There are other opportunities for finding work and living in New Zealand. 

If you can get a job offer and your employer can demonstrate they can’t find a New Zealander for the vacancy, then you may be able to apply for a work visa.

Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a resident visa if you meet the criteria for our Skilled Migrant Category.

Visas to work in New Zealand

Infrastructure renewal creating jobs

Many of New Zealand’s key infrastructure networks are in need of renewing. Our transport and urban infrastructure is struggling to keep up with population growth and increased demand, and parts of our water network are over 100 years old.

As a result, New Zealand is gearing up for unprecedented infrastructure investment. An estimated $129 billion is expected to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029.

An estimated $129 billion is to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029. 

Over 170 public sector projects are already in the national pipeline - transport, corrections, and health initiatives along with schools and defence projects. Over the ten years, just over half of the forecast will be allocated to roading and other land transport, with the next two largest asset types being local council spending and electricity infrastructure.

Infrastructure | NZ Treasury

"Epic" labour shortages

Faced with these growing demands, engineering and construction generally are facing what the industry’s professional body Engineering New Zealand describes as “a labour shortage of epic proportions.”

They note that while 7% of Kiwi graduates in 2017 studied engineering, the number of needs to be closer to the OECD average of 12% if the country is to make up for the skills shortfall. As a result, “New Zealand is desperately short of engineers across all disciplines.” 

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Jobs outlook for engineering

A leading engineering recruitment agency offers this snapshot of specific hotspots of demand.

Auckland, also Waikato / Bay of Plenty

  • Civil Design Engineers
  • Civil Engineers in land development
  • Land Surveyors and Survey Technicians
  • Planners, especially Resource Consent planners
  • Stormwater and Three Waters Engineers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Structural Revit Drafters
  • Transport Planners and Engineers


  • Building Services Engineers (Mechanical and Electrical)
  • Civil Engineers experienced in land development
  • Geometric Designers
  • Site and Project Engineers
  • Structural Engineers, especially with seismic project experience

Christchurch / South Island

  • Civil Engineers across multiple sectors
  • Geotechnical Engineers 
  • Land Surveyors
  • Qualified Mechanical/Electrical Engineers (Building Services, High Voltage)
  • Stormwater and Three Waters Engineers 
  • Structural Engineers, especially with seismic project experience

Find out more about the engineering skills needed in New Zealand

Engineering demand hotspots | Hays

Visa options

There are various types of visas that you may be eligible to apply for. 

Work visas are for a temporary stay in New Zealand, but some can lead to residence. Resident visas let you stay indefinitely and access more state-funded public services.

Visas to work in New Zealand

Getting started

The first step usually is finding a job. Check out where your skills will fit best and which employers are looking for your expertise.


Professional registration

Depending on your specialty, you may be required to register with a professional body in order to get a job and visa. In any case, getting a visa may be more straightforward if you are able to obtain professional registration in New Zealand.

More details are on Engineering New Zealand’s website.

Chartered Professional Engineer | Engineering New Zealand

Special Interest Group for migrants

Engineering New Zealand has recently set up its Special Interest Group for Immigrant Engineers (SIGIE).

SIGIE aims to help settle migrant engineers into meaningful professional employment in New Zealand. Objectives include continued training, professional development, employment and career counselling and social and work opportunity networking. 

SIGIE | Engineering New Zealand

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Page last updated: 22/06/2020

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