Frequently asked questions

We've put together a list of FAQs which may be helpful for you. They apply to early childhood education (ECE), primary and secondary teaching. We recommend you read these; also click here to read more early childhood education specific FAQs.

1 Which qualification should I choose?

This is a big decision for you. Schools and early childhood education (ECE) centres are aiming to attract the most skilled, high-quality teachers. You'll want to achieve at your best and aim for a programme of study that meets your needs and equips you to develop a strong teaching career. Check tertiary provider websites to compare the particular qualifications they are offering. Ask them questions; they're there to help you. Tertiary provider contact details are listed in our guides, including 0800 numbers, email addresses and web addresses.

2 What kinds of teachers are in greatest demand?

This can vary from year to year, but some subject specialists will be keenly sought after at secondary level, and more Māori and Māori-speaking teachers are needed in all schools, as are teachers from Pasifika cultures. TeachNZ offers scholarships targeted in the areas where they are needed most.

3 How long will it take me to study?

Your study length can vary depending on your previous study and whether you study full-time or part-time. For ECE and primary, full-time study length is most often three years, and for secondary, it is four years (also refer to Post-Graduate qualifications below). Study is usually expected to be completed within six years. A Graduate Diploma of Teaching is a one-year full-time or a two year part-time programme of study for graduates or people who already have a Diploma of Teaching. From 1 November 2010, New Zealand-qualified and registered primary teachers in teacher-led ECE services can be counted as registered teachers for funding purposes.

Post-graduate qualifications

The Government is introducing post-graduate qualifications for entry to the teaching profession in New Zealand, both in the compulsory schooling and early childhood sectors, and in English and Māori-medium. Some masters qualifications are already available in primary and in secondary teaching, in English-medium. More may be available in 2017, subject to programme and qualification approval by the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Committee on University Academic Programmes or the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Further information about post-graduate qualifications in initial teacher education can be found on the Ministry of Education's website.

4 What will it cost me to study?

Cost is an important factor when you are considering your study options. The costs of study will vary depending on your choice of teaching qualification. They'll also differ between undergraduate programmes and graduate programmes. Most tertiary providers have detailed information about course fees and other costs on their websites.

When considering the costs of studying, don't forget to include other items such as textbooks, materials and travel in your calculations.

If you study part-time, your fees will be a proportion of the full-time fees.

Visit tertiary provider websites and contact the tertiary provider of your choice for more detailed information about costs.

5 What entry requirements do I need to meet?

Entry requirements (prerequisites) vary between tertiary providers. While they will look at your degree and past academic performance, they'll also place importance on your personal qualities, communication skills and background experiences. Contact tertiary providers for more information on their requirements. The Education Council also requires you to demonstrate that you are of sound character and fit to be a teacher.

University Entrance (UE) is the minimum requirement to be able to study at a New Zealand university. Where a tertiary provider refers to a requirement for applicants to have University Entrance as stated by the NZQA, this is defined as a minimum of 42 credits at Level 3 or higher on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

To qualify you will need:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
    • 14 credits each, in three approved subjects
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading
    • 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards - specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or
    • unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).

Visit the NZQA website to find out more.

Secondary teacher education only:

Secondary student teachers are generally required to have completed a subject-based degree or an NZQF Level 7 diploma with a mix of subjects relevant to their chosen teaching subjects followed by a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (also refer to post-graduate qualifications above). Some tertiary providers also offer conjoint teaching degrees, which allow you to study your subject-based degree alongside your teaching qualification. When planning your degree it's a good idea to discuss your ideas and choices with a tertiary provider to make sure that teaching remains an option for you.

Prospective students whose degrees are not subject-based can often complete a one-year graduate diploma in order to gain the requisite number of subject credits to have a major and a minor secondary school curriculum subject to teach.

International Qualifications

If you have overseas qualifications, you will need to have these qualifications assessed by NZQA to determine their comparability to a New Zealand qualification. You can apply online to get your overseas qualifications assessed by visiting

If English is your additional language and your past qualifications were not carried out in English or te reo Māori you will need to complete an IELTS Academic Version test. Each tertiary provider has different result requirements so check with the tertiary provider you wish to study with. Normally a result with a minimum score of 7.0 in all components of the test is requested.

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6 How do I apply?

If you'd like to find out more about studying to become a teacher, contact the tertiary provider of your choice. They'll be able to give you more information about their qualifications, entry criteria, application forms and study dates.

7 Can I get financial help?

Government financial support for students is available through StudyLink, which is administered by the Ministry of Social Development. Support includes the Student Allowance and Student Loan Schemes. Call StudyLink free on 0800 88 99 00 or visit

TeachNZ offers scholarships to ensure we have the right number of teachers in the areas where they are needed most. TeachNZ scholarships are offered for study beginning at the start of each academic year. Opportunities change depending on need. Click here to find out more.

8 What about pay?

Early Childhood Education
There is a wide variety of early childhood education services and remuneration varies greatly. Salaries may be covered by a collective agreement or negotiated on an individual basis.

Primary and Secondary
Primary and secondary teachers’ pay rates are competitive. The following information can be used as a guide.

Trained primary teacher entry salaries are:

• $47,980 for those with a Bachelor's teaching degree.
• $49,588 for those with a Bachelor's degree (not a teaching degree) and a recognised teaching qualification.
• $51,508 for those with a Level 8 specialist/subject qualification and a recognised teaching qualification.
• $54,330 for those with a Level 9 specialist/subject qualification and a recognised teaching qualification.

Trained primary teachers will be able to progress to the following salaries after seven years service:

• Up to $71,891 for those with a Bachelor's teaching degree.
• Up to $75,949 for those with a Bachelor's degree/Masters/PhD (not a teaching degree) and a recognised teaching qualification.

Trained secondary teacher entry salaries are:

• $51,200 for those who hold Level 7 specialist/subject qualification (the qualification must have at least 72 credits at Level 7) and a recognised teaching qualification.
• $53,200 for those with a Level 8 specialist/subject qualification and a recognised teaching qualification.
• $56,550 for those with a Level 9 specialist/subject qualification and a recognised teaching qualification.

Trained secondary teachers will be able to progress to the following salary after seven years service:

• Up to $78,000. Teachers with Masters or PhD qualifications and a recognised teaching qualification may take less time to reach this maximum.

In order to progress up the salary scale a teacher must demonstrate that they have met the applicable professional standard. Their school’s board of trustees (often delegated to the school principal) must attest that the teacher has met this standard.

Schools can also allocate ‘units’ to teachers in management positions or to those with extra responsibilities. Each unit is worth $4,000 and is paid on top of a teacher’s base salary.

When you're first appointed to a teaching position your entry salary will be assessed by the Ministry of Education. The assessment takes into account your academic qualifications (including any recognised teaching qualifications), any teaching experience and any relevant work experience. (For secondary teachers, relevant work experience will be assessed provided the work was undertaken after completing a recognised and appropriate vocational qualification that is at least at Level 4 on the NZQF).

For more information on teachers’ pay, allowances and qualifications visit the Ministry of Education’ website.

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9 How do I know my future teaching qualifications will be recognised?

All teaching qualifications in New Zealand must go through a quality approval process and be approved by the Education Council to ensure that graduates are eligible to apply for registration.

All teaching qualifications listed in the TeachNZ guides and on the TeachNZ website have Education Council approval. Choosing a course of study listed by TeachNZ means you can be assured that the qualification for which you are applying is a recognised professional teaching qualification.

Early Childhood Education
There are many other programmes of study available for working with young children that are at lower levels on the NZQF. These lower-level qualifications will not lead to teacher registration and do not appear in this guide. If you intend to become a registered early childhood teacher, you need to be sure that you choose a qualification that can lead to teacher registration.

10 Do I need to apply for teacher registration?

Early Childhood Education
Graduates with early childhood education teaching qualifications are entitled to seek teacher registration from the Education Council. All teachers at supervisor level in early childhood services must be registered with the Education Council before beginning teaching employment.

Primary and Secondary
All teachers at primary and secondary level must be registered with the Education Council before beginning teaching employment.

You can apply for provisional registration as soon as you'’ve graduated with your teaching qualification. When you first apply for registration, you’ll be granted provisional registration and a practising certificate that expires after three years. You’re expected to gain full registration within the three-year timeframe, but you can apply for an extension to a maximum of six years if you were unable, for a valid reason, to gain full registration within that first three-year period.

11 I’m an overseas-qualified teacher. Can I teach here?

You'll need to have your qualifications assessed by NZQA to see if your qualification is comparable with the benchmark qualifications for teachers in New Zealand. If you'd like more information about this process visit

12 How can I talk to a teacher about teaching?

Talking with experienced teachers, recent student teachers, careers advisors and principals can be a great help in deciding whether teaching is for you. You can also contact your nearest tertiary provider and discuss what it's like to be in the classroom or ECE centre. They may be able to arrange for you to spend some time observing a class or centre in action.

13 What are my career options with teaching?

Teachers have an enormous range of opportunities to develop their personal and professional skills. You can progress and work your way up to senior positions with experience and training, or apply your skills in other areas of work with young people (e.g. teaching trainee teachers, or working in curriculum development, research or education policy).

14 Where can I find out more?

Explore our website for more information about teaching, studying, scholarships and the curriculum, as well as links to other relevant websites.

Tertiary providers can help you with requirements for entry to study, qualification content, fees and study dates. The TeachNZ team is committed to providing you with the information and support you need to make your decision. If there'’s a question that an tertiary provider can't help you with, you can email us at or call us during business hours on 0800 165 225. We're here to help.

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Early Childhood Education FAQs 

1 Why is early childhood education (ECE) so important?

Research shows that high-quality early childhood education has significant and lasting benefits for young children. Children establish strong foundations for learning and are encouraged to develop to their full potential. The Government's vision is for all New Zealand children, no matter what their circumstances, to have the opportunity to participate in high-quality early childhood education. As an early childhood teacher you'll be at the cutting edge of education and play a pivotal role in helping young children along a pathway of lifelong learning.

2 Why do people want to go into early childhood teacher education?

Lots of reasons! While some people leave school and go straight into teacher education because they love working with young children, others come into teaching later in life, drawn by their understanding of the vital importance of the first years of children's development.

Many people develop an interest through their involvement in the education of their own young children and bring that experience into early childhood teaching.

3 What qualification is needed to become a qualified early childhood teacher?

The benchmark qualification for New Zealand qualified early childhood teachers is a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), or an equivalent early childhood teaching qualification at Level 7 or above recognised by the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand for certification purposes.

All early childhood teaching qualifications listed by TeachNZ are recognised qualifications for teacher registration, as well as Ministry licensing and funding purposes.

4 What sort of early childhood education services are there?

New Zealand provides a diverse range of both parent-led and teacher-led services for young children.

Teacher-led services include:

  • education and care services that provide both sessional and all-day programmes for infants and toddlers as well as three-, four- and some five-year-olds. These services may be privately owned or not-for-profit community-based services. Some are operated as an adjunct to the main purpose of a business or organisation (such as a crèche at a university or polytechnic). These services include a small but increasing number of Māori immersion and Pasifika services.
  • Kindergartens, which offer sessional and all-day early childhood education.
  • The Correspondence School, which provides distance early childhood education for young children who are unable to attend a service because of isolation, illness, special learning needs, or other special circumstances. The Correspondence School also only employs qualified and registered teachers.
  • home-based services, which involve a network of educators operating under the supervision of a certified teacher.

Other early childhood education services include:

  • Ngā Kōhanga Reo, which provide programmes in te reo and tikanga Māori for tamariki and their whānau from birth to school age
  • Playcentres, which are supervised and managed by parents for children up to the age of five
  • Certificated Playgroups, which are community-based groups of parents and children who meet for up to five sessions per week.

5 What if I don’t meet entry criteria?

Many providers recommend bridging or foundation qualifications for aspiring early childhood teachers who don’t meet their entry criteria. These programmes of study, which can be up to one year in length, prepare students for tertiary study and give an indication of whether a student is capable of sustaining interest and effort for a longer period of tertiary study. They also help students who have other commitments, such as family or work responsibilities, to determine if further tertiary study is a possibility. If you want to know more about bridging, introductory or foundation qualifications, get in touch with the tertiary provider of your choice to see what’s on offer.

6 Can I keep working at an early childhood education service while studying?

Yes, current requirements for all early childhood education services enable them to employ people who are not yet qualified and registered or who are engaged in tertiary study. Particular tertiary providers offer centre-based and field-based programmes. Talk to tertiary providers about this option.

7 What do you recommend to secondary school students considering a career in early childhood education?

We recommend that in years 12 and 13 you gain some experience helping out in an early childhood education service, as experience in working with young children can assist in gaining entry to some programmes. Some schools encourage work experience and run programmes where you may be able to work in an early childhood education service.

You may like to call your local early childhood education or kindergarten association and ask to talk to a teacher about their work, or talk to the recruitment officer at your nearest tertiary provider.

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