Science jobs

Be part of the brilliant science going on in our labs – and enjoy a lifestyle you just won’t find anywhere else.

New Zealand is home to a number of internationally-renowned research institutions. We compete globally in many fields including agricultural biotechnology, genomics, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, nutraceuticals and more.

Global impact

There’s no shortage of world-leading science and research initiatives going on here. Amongst other advances, they’ve led to:

NZ universities are twice as successful as their US counterparts at getting research from the lab to market. Some even outperform entrepreneurial heavyweights like MIT and Stanford University.

  • Smart healing gels that will improve the healing process of patients recovering from sinus surgery.
  • A digital soil map that farmers and land managers can use to get a better understanding of the soils they're working with.
  • An innovative new social app that helps people make positive lifestyle changes.
  • 'Healthbots' - robotic companions that provide cost effective care and entertainment for older people (an international collaboration with South Korea).
  • A new type of GPS tracking system that will revolutionize the conservation of native birds and endangered animals.
  • New 'green' power technologies.

New Zealand researchers are well integrated into global networks. In 2012, the OECD noted that 50% of their scientific articles and 20% of their PCT patent applications were produced with international collaboration.

Science, Technology & Innovation | OECD (PDF 167KB)

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What jobs, where

Over 29,000 people work in research in New Zealand according to the latest available (2013) figures from the OECD. Over 6,000 of them work at the seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs - largely government-funded) while the remainder work for private companies or for universities.

For an overview of the sector, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website

The best employment opportunities are in applied scientific research, on projects likely to have a practical outcome that will directly benefit the economy.

Because the New Zealand economy is somewhat dependent on primary industries such as agriculture and forestry, a lot of scientific research is focussed on these industries. There is a particular need for scientists who specialise in agricultural and forestry research and development.

Another area of immediate need is geology. Oil exploration in New Zealand has grown strongly in recent years, creating more demand for geologists who study oil and gas.

Science and Innovation | MBIE

Crown Research Institutes | Science New Zealand

New Zealand's Minister for Science and Innovation Steven Joyce recently said "Ensuring New Zealand succeeds means keeping innovation at the heart of everything we do.

New Government strategy

In October 2015, the government launched New Zealand’s first-ever National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI). Among other things, the plan aims to:

  • Grow business expenditure on R&D to 1% of GDP by 2025. As part of this, the Government will establish Regional Research Institutes to leverage private investment regionally.
  • Grow government's investment in science to 0.8% of GDP (building on 70% growth achieved from 2007 to 2015).
  • Further develop the cross-disciplinary National Science Challenges tackling New Zealand's biggest science-based issues.
  • Provide greater support to international collaborations. 

The Government is also supporting the development of New Zealand’s digital economy with a Digital Economy Work Programme covering eight interconnected areas.

Science and Innovation | Beehive.govt.nz

Science and innovation

Scientists wanted

Immigration New Zealand has lists of skill shortages.

If you are offered a job which appears on a skill shortage list and you have the qualifications and experience to match, getting a work visa will be easier. This is because the Government has identified that employers need to recruit people from overseas to help meet demand for your skills.

But if your job is not on a shortage list, don’t be disheartened. There are other work and resident visa options. Science jobs on the lists include:

  • chemist
  • environmental research scientist
  • food technologist
  • spatial scientist
  • statistician.

A wide range of scientific disciplines are important to us. So even if your specialty isn’t listed, it could be worthwhile getting in touch.

Skill shortage skill checker | Immigration New Zealand

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, such as the Skilled Migrant Category, allow you to stay indefinitely and enjoy more of our state-funded public services.

Visas to work

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Page last updated: 26/09/2016

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