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Community Development Worker

Kaiāwhina Whakawhanake Hapori

Alternative titles for this job

Community development workers support people to develop and implement plans to make improvements in their community.


Community development workers usually earn

$60K-$80K per year

Source: Seek, 2023.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a community development worker are good due to a shortage of workers with the right skills.


Pay for community development workers varies depending on skills, experience and where they work.

  • Community development workers usually earn between $60,000 and $80,000 a year. 

Community development workers employed by local community groups often work part time in casual roles.

Source: Seek, 2023.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Community development workers may do some or all of the following:

  • develop networks and encourage connections within a community
  • support people to take leadership of community initiatives
  • work with community members to identify their needs, aspirations and existing resources
  • support community groups to develop and apply realistic long-term plans
  • help people work through conflict and achieve their goals
  • support community groups to access funding and set up partnerships with other organisations such as iwi, businesses and district and city councils
  • apply for grants
  • co-ordinate, establish, report on and maintain community projects
  • keep up to date with community events
  • help community groups to build on successes and learn from failures.

Skills and knowledge

Community development workers need to have:

  • the ability to engage with diverse groups of people 
  • an understanding of approaches that focus on the strengths and assets of people and communities 
  • knowledge of running projects and reporting
  • knowledge of applying for grants and report writing
  • an understanding of advocacy, policies and government funding available to help communities 
  • knowledge of the specific community they work in and its languages and cultures. 

Working conditions

Community development workers:

  • may work irregular hours, including weekends and evenings
  • work in offices, community centres and marae
  • travel locally to attend meetings.

Entry requirements

To become a community development worker you need to have relevant paid or voluntary work experience in community development or engagement.

Tertiary qualifications in social work or social practice may be useful, particularly with strands in community development or management of non-profit organisations.

Project and event management training and experience is also useful.

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

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a community development worker. However health education, social studies, te reo Māori, English, maths, and accounting are useful. 

Personal requirements

Community development workers need to be:

  • outgoing and positive
  • excellent listeners and communicators
  • highly skilled at both leadership and motivating others  
  • able to keep information private 
  • extremely well organised, with good planning skills.

Useful experience

Useful experience for community development workers includes:

  • youth work 
  • social work, counselling and local government work
  • work with community or community development organisations
  • leading a group or organisation.

Find out more about training

Inspiring Communities -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Strong demand for community development workers

Demand for community development workers is good due to:  

  • the difficulty of getting staff with the right skill mix
  • high staff turnover
  • various government agencies applying community-led development approaches
  • the importance of building strong local communities that can better respond to emergencies.

According to the Census, 14,580 community development workers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Increase your chances of finding work 

You can increase your chances of getting a community development worker role by:

  • doing voluntary work in your local community
  • connecting with a non-government organisation (NGO) that provides mentoring, workshops and opportunities to meet local community groups. 

Types of employers varied

Community development workers are employed by a wide variety of employers including:

  • social service providers such as Plunket
  • local organisations such as charitable trusts
  • faith-based organisations such as churches
  • city and district councils.

Most community development work is funded by grants of one to five years, and community development workers may have a fixed-term contract for the same term.


  • Department of Internal Affairs, 'Briefing to the Incoming Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector', October 2020, ( 
  • Malcolm, M-J, learning and practice lead, Inspiring Communities, interview, February 2021.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Wilson, D, team leader, neighbourhood and community networks, Wellington City Council, interview, February 2021.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Community development workers may move into team leader or project management roles.

Community development worker pointing at a projector showing images of community activities

Community development workers run workshops and events to increase community wellbeing (Photo: Inspiring Communities)

Last updated 25 September 2023