Secondary School Teacher

Kaiako Kura Tuarua

Alternative titles for this job

Secondary school teachers plan, prepare and teach one or more subjects to students of about 13 to 18 years of age.


Graduate secondary school teachers usually earn

$51K per year

Secondary school teachers with more than two years' experience usually earn

$56K-$78K per year

Source: PPTA, 'Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement', 2019.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a secondary school teacher are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for secondary school teachers varies depending on experience and qualifications. 

  • Graduate secondary school teachers usually start on about $51,000 a year.
  • Secondary school teachers with two to five years' experience usually earn between $56,000 and $69,000.
  • Secondary school teachers with more than five years' experience can earn from $69,000 to $78,000.

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, and $3,500 after teaching for four and five years.

Extra pay for management responsibilities

Teachers may receive extra payment for taking on extra responsibilities or be eligible for other allowances under their collective agreement.

Extra pay in private or independent schools

Secondary school teachers who teach in private or independent schools may earn an extra $2,000 to $3,000 a year.

Source: Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement 28 October 2015 to 27 October 2018', 2019.

(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 and procedures, including safety and emergency procedures.

Working conditions

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, but sometimes in 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?

Craig Rofe

Craig Rofe

Physics Teacher

Taking an interest in students' lives is important

It is 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 are 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 "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."

Entry requirements

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.

Secondary school teacher scholarships for Māori, Pasifika and STEM teachers

Secondary school teacher scholarships for course fees and sometimes allowances are available for teaching maths, science and technology, te reo Māori and Pasifika languages. There are also scholarships to encourage Māori and Pasifika to become teachers.

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.

Secondary education

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 you must complete a postgraduate qualification in the area of special education you wish to teach in.

Personal requirements

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
  • understanding, tolerant and good at listening
  • positive, 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

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.

Physical requirements

Secondary school teachers need to be fit enough to cope with standing for a long time. 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.

Find out more about training

Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
(04) 471 0852 - -
0800 165 225 - -
TeachFirst NZ
0800 86 5323 - -
Check out related courses

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 may grow from about 26,000 in 2018 to 28,550 by 2025. This is because:

  • there is a shortage of qualified, experienced teachers
  • many teachers are leaving or retiring
  • an increased number of secondary school students.

According to the Education Counts website, there were about 26,000 secondary school teachers and 3800 relief teachers working in 2017.

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 find secondary school teachers who can teach English, digital technology, mathematics, science subjects and construction and mechanical technologies.

Qualified secondary school teachers who are also te reo Māori speakers 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 in order to attract them.

Student numbers will increase in the future

More secondary school teachers will be needed from 2020. There will be a large increase in secondary school student numbers then as those born in high birth rate years reach secondary school age.

Most teachers employed by government

State schools are the biggest employers of secondary school teachers, but they may also work in private and state-integrated schools, such as Catholic schools.


  • Education Counts, 'National School Roll Projections, 2011 Update', accessed November 2017, (
  • Education Counts, 'Teacher Headcount by Age', accessed 2019, (
  • Gerritsen, J, 'Principals Worried By Teacher Shortage Forecast', 18 October 2018, (
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (
  • New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Secondary School Staffing Survey Report 2018', May 2018, (
  • New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Survey of Principals on Secondary Teacher Shortages', November 2017, (
  • New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association, 'Survey of Principals on Secondary Teacher Supply', August 2017, (
  • TeachNZ, 'Scholarships', accessed January 2019, (

(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 management roles, such as head of department, dean or principal, or progress into work such as:

  • teaching trainee teachers in 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 teacher specialisations

Secondary school teachers may specialise in one or more subject areas including:

  • arts
  • English
  • English as a second language
  • health and physical education
  • kaiwhakaako Māori
  • languages
  • mathematics
  • science
  • social sciences (accounting, economics, geography, history, or social studies)
  • technology.

With further training, secondary school teachers may progress to become special education teachers.

Craig Rofe talks to three students in a physics class

Secondary school teachers inspire, motive and educate teenaged students

Last updated 3 December 2019