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Can I work in New Zealand while I study?

When you are in New Zealand on a student visa, full-time students can usually work up to 20 hours a week during the academic year. And you can work up to 40 hours a week during the summer break. This applies if you are a high school, polytechnic or university student. There is one exception: research master’s and PhD students can work 40 hours a week all year round. 

Just remember, always check your official student visa conditions. This shows if (and when) you can work. Also, it tells you what work you can (and cannot) do. You can find out more about working on a student visa through the New Zealand Immigration.

How do I find work as international student in NZ?

When move to a new country, it’s an exciting experience. You get to see a new country from a different perspective. That’s also true when you work in New Zealand. But it can be challenging to find a job as an international student. So, how do you find work in NZ? 

  • Check with your education provider 

Your school or university may be able to help you find work. Usually, when you talk to student support services, they can point you in the right direction. 

You can also check dedicated job websites. This is where employers advertise positions they have available. Sometimes they specifically ask for international students. Often, they are very general and open to international students and locals. Here is a full list of New Zealand’s best job websites that can help you: 

Getting better at speaking English might help you find a job

IELTS helps people achieve their migration goals. It is the most widely used and respected measure of English skill in New Zealand for study, work and migration. 

List of jobs for international students in New Zealand

As an international student there are lots of jobs you can do. Businesses in retail (like clothing shops or in the hospitality industry (bars, cafes, and restaurants) are usually happy to hire you as international student. And these jobs often have flexible hours so you can schedule work around your study. 

  • Waiter/waitress: As international student, you can work in the hospitality industry. It’s a good job because it allows for flexible hours. You do need to speak English well (you can use IELTS to show you speak English) 

  • Barista: New Zealand is well-known for its excellent coffee culture. Baristas are coffee experts. It’s a great job if you don’t mind an early start to your day. 

  • Cafe or restaurant cook: Do you have a love for cooking, or maybe you have experience working in a kitchen in your home country? Try finding a job as a cook at a local restaurant. You might even get to work with people from your home country! 

  • Kitchenhand: Working as a kitchenhand means you wash dishes or do simple food preparation. It’s hard work, but you gain skills in the kitchen. 

  • Sales assistant in a retail store:  Many stores offer part-time work to students. As store assistant, you get to help customers choose products and take payment. And you may have to assist with stocking and cleaning. 

  • Seasonal worker/fruit picking: Seasonal work is available throughout New Zealand. From vineyards to orchards. You don’t need any special skills to be a seasonal worker. So, it’s great to do over the summer break. Just be prepared for hard work! 

  • Call centre agent: Working in a call centre requires good English skills (IELTS can help with this). It is flexible work and you often work alongside Kiwis and other international 

  • Supermarket assistant: Supermarkets provide employment to people from many different countries and they often employ students to work on weekends and in the evening. You can do a range of jobs from stacking shelves to working on the checkout. 

  • Bartender: Enjoy working in a fun environment? Bartending is usually a weekend job, and sometimes you may not finish till after midnight. You’ll also need excellent English language skills. Book an IELTS test to show you have the language skills. 

Now, if you like any of the jobs listed above try to search for them through any of the websites listed under List of best job websites for international students in New Zealand. 

What do New Zealand employers look for?

When you are trying to find a new job as international student, it is good to know what employers are looking for. 

English competency 

  • Employers look for English language proficiency in listening and speaking. For some jobs, writing and reading is important, too. Not all jobs require a very high band score in IELTS. 

  • Working in New Zealand is an excellent way to pick up language that is more career focused. And you get exposure to the New Zealand workplace and culture. When you apply for your first job, the employer may be comparing your levels of English to that of a native speaker. With IELTS you can show you have the proficiency level you need. 

Work experience 

  • It might help if you have some work experience on your CV, especially if it’s related to the job you’re applying for. So, if you have worked in a kitchen in your home country, you might find it easier to get a job as a kitchenhand in New Zealand. 

  • If you have limited work experience, you could also consider volunteering in the New Zealand community. That way, you gain experience and build important networks with locals. 


  • You should be able to describe and talk about the knowledge you gained during your studies or previous employment. 

  • Show how your studies are relevant to the job and how it will add value to the organisation. 

  • Good grades always help, so make sure you keep focusing focus on your studies. 

For more tips, read our blog on 10 tips for getting a job in New Zealand.

What are my rights as an employee in New Zealand?

If you are looking for a job as international student, it is good to know your rights. Working in New Zealand should be a positive experience. The Government has rules in place to protect you. For example, you have legal rights to make sure you’re safe and protected at the places you work. You also have a right to a minimum wage. International students have the same rights as anyone working in New Zealand. This applies even if they’re not written in your employment agreement. 

Basic rights 

As an employee in New Zealand you have the right to: 

  • a written employment agreement 

  • take advice before signing an employment agreement 

  • at least the minimum wage 

  • paid annual and public holidays 

  • set rest and meal breaks, with limited exceptions 

  • a safe workplace 

  • employment that is free from discrimination, for example discrimination based on nationality, religion or sexuality. 

Get help if your employer is exploiting you 

If you think your employer is taking advantage of you (exploiting you), or they are not respecting your employment rights, ask for help. The Immigration New Zealand website has information on how to keep safe. And where to get help in the following languages: Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Fijian, Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Samoan, Tagalog, Tongan and Vietnamese. 

If you’re not getting these basic rights, your employer is breaking the law.  Find more on your rights as an employee and what to do if there’s a problem at work

How much will I be paid as international student working in New Zealand?

You will be paid at least the minimum wage, though you may earn more than this. You will also be paid for annual and public holidays, and for rest breaks. 

Will I pay tax as international student working in New Zealand?

You will pay tax on what you earn. The current tax rate is 10.5% if you earn less than NZ$14,000 a year. You will need a tax number (called an IRD number) to make sure you are not taxed more than you should be. You can one when you arrive in New Zealand. But make sure you have an IRD number before you start your job. You give this number to your employer when you start work and use it for all your New Zealand tax matters. It is easy to do online. If you're in NZ as international student, apply for an IRD number here.