Secondary School Teacher
Kaiako Kura Tuarua
Alternative titles for this job
Secondary school teachers plan, prepare and teach one or more subjects to students between the ages of 13 and 18.
Untrained secondary school teachers usually earn
$47K-$77K per year
Trained secondary school teachers usually earn
$51K-$90K per year
Source: MoE,, 2019-2022.
Pay for secondary school teachers varies depending on experience and qualifications.
- Untrained secondary school teachers with a Limited Authority to Teach usually earn between $47,000 and $77,000 a year.
- Secondary school teachers with a relevant diploma or degree can earn between $51,000 and $90,000 a year.
Secondary school teachers may also qualify for higher pay and allowances if they have extra responsibilities.
Source: Ministry of Education, 'Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement 2019-2022'.
Voluntary bonding scheme in hard-to-staff schools
Secondary school teachers who work in schools identified as hard to staff may be eligible for an extra $10,500 after three consecutive years of teaching, then $3,500 after the fourth year, and a further $3,500 after the fifth year.
Extra pay in private or independent schools
Secondary school teachers who teach in private or independent schools may earn higher salaries.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Secondary school teachers may do some or all of the following:
- plan, prepare and present lessons
- set and mark assignments and tests
- assess students' work for national qualifications
- keep records and write reports on students
- observe and manage student behaviour in the classroom and other environments such as the gym and sports fields
- attend departmental and staff meetings
- meet with parents, whānau or caregivers, individually or at parents' evenings
- participate in or organise extracurricular activities such as sport, camp or drama
- keep up to date with curriculum changes and assessment methods.
Skills and knowledge
Secondary school teachers need to have knowledge of:
- different teaching methods and learning styles
- the curriculum subjects they teach
- curriculum assessment and planning
- classroom management skills, including an understanding of behaviour management
- research skills to keep up to date with best practice in teaching
- school rules, policies and procedures, including safety and emergency procedures.
Secondary school teachers:
- work regular school hours, but often work additional hours to plan lessons, assess work or attend meetings
- may be involved in extracurricular activities during lunchtimes, weekends, school holidays or after school
- work in offices and classrooms, and sometimes at locations such as school camps and museums when they accompany students on trips and visits
- may travel nationally to attend conferences and courses.
What's the job really like?
Taking an interest in students' lives is important
It's Monday morning, and Craig Rofe is listening to his Year 10 science students talk about what they did during the weekend.
"As a teacher you're not only teaching a subject, you're also getting the kids to look at value systems and how to interact with other people as well," he says.
And by taking an interest in his students' lives, Craig builds relationships and finds ways to make science relevant to them. Today, a student doing a genetics project suddenly gets the link between her work and someone in her whānau, who was colour blind. "And those 'aha' moments happen on a daily basis," Craig says.
From Silicon Valley to satisfaction
Craig got into teaching after spending 11 years doing physics research, some of it in California's Silicon Valley, but says, "I wasn't really happy."
He's much happier now being a teacher. "I enjoy this work far more than any other jobs I've ever had," he says. "The kids are just great, and becoming a teacher has been worth it."
Secondary school teacher video
Kate Sullivan talks about life as a secondary school dance teacher – 2.13 mins.
I'm in the classroom most of the day facilitating their learning for some
choreography, teaching some dances,
and giving some feedback. Today in class,
I'll go over their learning objectives,
the skills that we want the students to learn today,
and then we are going to explore the choreographic process.
You as a teacher have to figure out how to connect with individual students and
the ways to support them being really encouraging and enthusiastic.
it might be just gently guiding them and talking to them and making them feel
really safe in this space. I plan my lessons,
taking into consideration a range of things such as skills that the
students are going to engage with or relate to,
as well as thinking about the New Zealand curriculum,
the key competencies and values and objectives in there. My journey as a dance
teacher started off with doing 4 years of PhysEd school in
Dunedin to get a PhysEd Degree followed by 1 year of teachers' college.
I really enjoyed working with young people.
I had done sort of volunteer work growing up,
and I'd always done dance growing up as well,
and so I kind of just married those two things together. The most difficult
thing about being a teacher is having to stay on top of all of
the admin work while still focusing on your actual teaching practice.
Nobody really likes doing paperwork,
and it's just one of those things that you have to do. The advice I'd give to
somebody who's considering becoming a teacher is to be really flexible and open minded.
It's a wonderful career where you can keep developing your skills and learning
yourself. I've had students who are really reluctant to join in in dance and
through dance, they've actually found their safe space,
their way to express themselves or found something that makes them
really happy about being in school and passionate about learning.
I've seen that growth and that change in their confidence.
To become a secondary school teacher you need to have one of the following:
- a specialist subject degree followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) or a Master of Teaching (Secondary)
- a Bachelor of Education (Technology)
- a Bachelor of Teaching conjoint degree (a combination of teaching and specialist subjects).
Employers prefer you to train in at least two subject areas for your specialist subject degree so you can teach more than one subject.
You also need to be registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practising certificate.
Scholarships available for Māori, Pasifika and STEM teachers
Secondary school teacher scholarships for course fees and sometimes allowances are available for teaching science, technology, maths, te reo Māori and Pasifika languages. Scholarships to encourage Māori and Pasifika to become teachers are also available.
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can't be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
Special Education Teacher
To become a special education teacher you need to have two years or more of secondary school teaching experience, full teacher registration, and a postgraduate qualification in the area of special education you wish to teach in.
Secondary school teachers need to be:
- skilled at communicating clearly with students and adults from a range of backgrounds and cultures
- organised, and good at solving problems quickly
- understanding, tolerant and good at listening
- enthusiastic, open-minded and able to motivate young people
- able to work well under pressure
- firm and fair, with a sense of humour
- able to work well in a team.
Useful experience for secondary school teachers includes:
- counselling experience
- tutoring or coaching work
- work with people with disabilities
- work as a youth group leader
- work as a teacher aide.
Secondary school teachers need to be reasonably fit and healthy, and able to stand for long periods.
Physical education teachers and sports coaches need to have a good level of fitness and health.
Secondary school teachers need to be registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practising certificate.
- Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand website - information on teacher registration and certification
Find out more about training
- Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
- (04) 471 0852 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.teachingcouncil.nz
- TeachFirst NZ
- 0800 86 5323 - email@example.com - teachfirstnz.org
- 0800 165 225 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.teachnz.govt.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Shortage of secondary school teachers
Secondary school teacher appears on Immigration New Zealand's regional skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled secondary school teachers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Demand for secondary school teachers is expected to remain high. This is because:
- many teachers are leaving the job or retiring
- the number of secondary school students is rising, as those born in high birth rate years reach secondary school age.
According to the Census, 24,996 secondary school teachers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Chances best for English, STEM and te reo Māori secondary school teachers
According to the Survey of Principals on Secondary Teacher Supply, 78 principals said they found it difficult to hire secondary school teachers who could teach English, digital technology, maths, science subjects, and construction and mechanical technologies.
Qualified secondary school teachers who also speak te reo Māori are in high demand to teach in kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language immersion schools) and in general secondary schools.
The Government offers scholarships and additional salary payments to encourage teachers to train in this area.
Chances good in hard-to-staff schools
Your chances of securing a job are best in schools in rural areas, and in Auckland. Auckland secondary schools have difficulty recruiting teachers due to high housing costs, but some provide housing subsidies to attract them.
Most teachers employed by the Government
State schools are the biggest employers of secondary school teachers, but teachers may also work in private and state-integrated schools such as Catholic schools.
- Education Counts, 'National School Roll Projections, 2011 Update', accessed November 2017, (www.educationcounts.govt.nz).
- Education Counts, 'Teacher Headcount by Age', accessed February 2019, (www.educationcounts.govt.nz).
- Gerritsen, J, 'Principals Worried By Teacher Shortage Forecast', 18 October 2018, (www.radionz.co.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Secondary School Staffing Survey Report 2018', May 2018, (www.ppta.org.nz).
- New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Survey of Principals on Secondary Teacher Shortages', November 2017, (www.ppta.org.nz).
- New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Survey of Principals on Secondary Teacher Supply', August 2017, (www.ppta.org.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- TeachNZ, 'Scholarships', accessed January 2019, (www.teachnz.govt.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Secondary school teachers may move into managerial roles, such as head of department, dean or principal, or progress into work such as:
- teaching trainee teachers at universities
- doing research, policy or advisory work in the education sector
- working in training and education roles in a museum or art gallery.
Secondary school teachers may specialise in one or more subject areas, including:
- English as a second language
- health and physical education
- kaiwhakaako Māori
- social sciences (accounting, economics, geography, history, or social studies)
With further training, secondary school teachers may progress to become special education teachers.
Last updated 28 March 2023