Āpiha Ao Koiora
Biosecurity officers check areas of land for harmful animals or plants and arrange for, or help with, pest destruction and control.
Biosecurity officers with one to three years’ experience usually earn
$40K-$45K per year
Biosecurity officers with more than three years’ experience usually earn
$55K-$70K per year
Source: NZ Biosecurity Institute.
Pay for biosecurity officers varies depending on their experience.
- Starting pay for biosecurity officers is usually $40,000 to $45,000 a year.
- After about three to five years' experience, biosecurity officers usually earn between $55,000 and $70,000.
Source: NZ Biosecurity Institute.
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Biosecurity officers may do some or all of the following:
- inspect and monitor plants, land and water for pests
- advise landowners to destroy pests and check that they are complying with their legal obligations
- remove and destroy pests, or arrange for them to be removed and destroyed by pest control technicians
- carry out control work
- gather data from experimental eradication projects
- educate the public about animal and plant pests and how to control them
- prepare reports or charges against any law breakers.
Skills and knowledge
Biosecurity officers need to have:
- knowledge of harmful plants and animals
- knowledge of pest plants and animals in their region and the strategies used to eliminate them
- knowledge of pesticides and how to safely use and handle them.
- usually work regular business hours
- work in offices and outdoors in forests, national parks and on private land where pests are being monitored or eradicated.
What's the job really like?
Gemma Bradfield - Biosecurity Officer
Why did you decide this was the job for you?
"I wanted to work outside and I knew I'd get to spend a lot of time in the field as a biosecurity officer. Beautiful drives to the riverbed to look for weeds just doesn't feel like work!"
Have you had many adventures on the job?
"We were out in this little dinghy once, getting rid of some pest plants growing high up on a seaside cliff. As we headed back to shore, a rough wave knocked our dinghy over, and it got stuck around my shoulders. Thankfully, I've had very few such experiences."
What's it like educating the public about pests?
"It's a good feeling to see people interested in the shows we put on at events like the A&P shows.
"I also work with a national organisation called Weedbusters, which supports volunteers who do weed control and who educate others about weeds. Weedbusters also gives out awards to people who've done good work with weed issues.
"We have lots of entries for these awards – it's great to see people getting fired up about weeds."
To become a biosecurity officer you usually need a Bachelor's degree in botany or zoology. A Master's degree in biosecurity, ecological science or environmental science is sometimes preferred.
You also need to have a current driver's licence.
Some employers encourage, or make it compulsory, for biosecurity officers working with pest plants to get a Growsafe Certificate or National Certificate in Compliance and Regulatory Control – Pest Plant Control (Level 4).
To enter tertiary training, NCEA Level 2 or 3 is usually required. Useful subjects include science and horticulture.
Biosecurity officers need to be:
- observant, reliable and responsible
- tactful, firm, and calm
- skilled communicators and negotiators.
Useful experience for biosecurity officers includes:
- farm work
- plant nursery work
- work with animals
- conservation work
- laboratory or scientific work
- work involving contact with the public
- work handling pesticides and chemicals.
Biosecurity officers need to be reasonably fit and healthy as they often have to work outdoors in all weather conditions.
Find out more about training
- Ministry for Primary Industries
- 0800 00 83 33 - www.biosecurity.govt.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong competition for positions
Vacancies for biosecurity officers are few, numbering only in the 10s every year. Because of this, competition for positions is often strong. For example, regional councils often receive about 50 applications for one biosecurity officer position.
Volunteer work helps improve chances of getting biosecurity work
You can improve your chances of getting a job as a biosecurity officer by doing volunteer work on council projects. This often leads to short-term contract work, which ranges from one month to a year. Some councils offer summer placements, which also provide valuable experience.
Most biosecurity officers work for regional councils
Regional councils are the largest employer of biosecurity officers. Other employers include:
- companies that provide pest and disease monitoring and management services
- companies that manufacture pesticides or develop pest management technologies.
- Davey, C, environmental consultant, NZ Biosecurity Institute, Career Services interview, October, 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Career Services), 2014.
Progression and specialisations
With experience, council biosecurity officers can move into team leader or senior management roles.
They may also move into policy roles in government bodies such as councils, the Department of Conservation or move to working for a private consultancy.
Last updated 24 April 2018