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Teaching is an excellent career choice in New Zealand because there is no one way to approach the career. You can apply to teach children or adults at any age and stage, in almost any subject. Teachers are also in high demand, meaning you’re likely to find work if you have the right qualifications.

But to become a teacher in New Zealand, you’ll need more than subject matter expertise. You’ll also need to be able to prove that you have excellent English language and communication skills.

This article will cover the qualifications you need to become a teacher of any level in New Zealand, as well as the process of applying for permanent residency.

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Updates from Immigration New Zealand

Latest updates from April 3, 2024

"The Government has announced that secondary school teachers will move to the Straight to Residence pathway on the Green List of in-demand roles.

This move helps fill the likely shortage of secondary school teachers in the short to medium term.

The change allows eligible overseas secondary school teachers to apply for residence from outside New Zealand:

  • when they have an offer of employment with an accredited employer, and

  • without needing to work for 2 years in New Zealand first.

This change comes into effect in May.

Other teachers remain on the Work to Residence pathway."

Read more about this announcement on the Immigration New Zealand and Ministry of Education websites

Teaching in New Zealand

New Zealand currently has around 150,000 registered and certified teachers. Even so, the country still faces a shortage of teachers. Because there aren’t enough local professionals to fill this shortage, overseas-trained teachers are an important part of New Zealand’s growing education workforce.

In particular, New Zealand needs two kinds of teachers:

  • Early Childhood (pre-primary school) Teachers - registered

  • Secondary School Teachers, especially in:

    • Science (including chemistry, biology, physics, agricultural and horticultural science, and earth and space science)

    • Mathematics (including statistics and calculus)

    • Technology (including digital technologies, computer science, construction and mechanical technologies, materials technologies, and processing technologies)

    • Pacific languages (including languages of Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands, Sāmoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji, Rotuma, and Kiribati)

These occupations are Tier 2 roles on the New Zealand Government’s Green List for immigration, meaning that it will be easier for you to gain permanent residency if you meet the criteria.

Teachers who meet the criteria are more likely to be employed. But if you don’t fit into the above categories, you can still apply to become a teacher in New Zealand. You will need to make sure you have the necessary qualifications.

Read about Tier 1 and Tier 2 Green List roles

Qualifications to become a teacher

To migrate to New Zealand as a teacher, you’ll need to register with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (TCANZ) and hold a current practicing certificate. In order to register, you’ll need to prove the following things:

1. You are satisfactorily trained to teach

There are three ways you can prove that you are satisfactorily trained to teach in New Zealand.

1. General

  • You can use TCANZ’s easy finder tool to see if your teaching qualification is recognised in New Zealand

  • If your qualification is not on the list, you’ll need to apply for an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) with a teaching add-on for each of your qualifications. You can do so on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website.

  • If you haven’t completed teaching recently, or if TCANZ is not confident your skills are up to date, you’ll need to do a refresh programme.

2. Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (Australia and New Zealand)

If you are registered and hold Provisional or Full Registration with an Australian teaching body, you may be eligible for a practicing certificate. The recognised Australian bodies are:

  • Queensland College of Teachers

  • Teachers Registration Board of South Australia

  • Victoria Institute of Teaching

  • Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania

  • Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia

  • Teachers Registration Board of the Northern Territory

  • ACT Teacher Quality Institute.

  • NSW Education Standards Authority

3. Discretionary pathway

  • If the NZQA decides your qualifications do not meet the requirements, they may still make an exception for you.

  • This will depend on your qualifications, teaching experience, appraisal material, and professional development as a whole.

  • For more information on this pathway to teaching, please check the TCANZ website.

2. English language competency

There are a few ways you can demonstrate your English language competency. TCANZ will accept the IELTS Academic test as proof of competency, as long as the test was completed in the two years before your application. You will need an overall band score of 7.0 and in all four skills - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

Submitting multiple IELTS test results

You can meet the English requirements by using results from more than one IELTS test where they show that you achieve or exceed the specified outcome in each of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). Read more here.

3. An overseas police clearance

You’ll need to prove that you have applied for, and obtained, a police clearance from your current country of residence.

4. Your identity

You can verify your identity by filling out this Proof of Identity form (POI-OS) for overseas residents. You’ll need to include copies of your passport, as well as either a valid driver’s license or a National Police Certificate. As part of the requirements, you’ll need an identity referee to verify the copies of your documents. This could be:

  • a judge

  • a Justice of Peace

  • a Commission of Oath Commonwealth Representative (Ambassador/High Commissioner)

  • a person authorised by the law of your country of residence to administer an oath for the purpose of judicial proceedings

5. Supporting evidence

To have a good chance of becoming registered, you’ll also have to include as much supporting material as possible in your application. This can include copies of qualifications and transcripts, testimonial letters, teaching assessments, professional certificates, and anything else you think may be relevant.

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Teaching courses in New Zealand

If you don't currently have the qualifications to become a teacher, you can always apply to complete an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course in New Zealand. Without a teaching qualification, you will need to complete this course in order to be eligible for teaching roles.

There are currently 26 tertiary institutions in New Zealand, offering 100+ ITE courses between them. These courses include everything from graduate diplomas to complete doctorates and cover all levels of education from early childhood to high school.

For a full list of ITE courses, you can visit the TCANZ website

The official guide to IELTS preparation materials

IELTS requirements for teaching courses

Most universities and academic institutions have different requirements when it comes to IELTS scores. The best way to find out about the requirements for the course you’re interested in is to contact the course provider directly.

You can also get in touch with an education counsellor. They have access to information of multiple education providers. 

For enrollment, generally, teaching students must achieve a minimum overall IELTS band score of 7.0, and a minimum score of 7 in each of the four components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking).

Scholarships in New Zealand for international students

How to prepare for IELTS?

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Achieving a great IELTS score takes time and planning. You can’t just book and take your test in a matter of days – no matter how strong your English skills are. Successful test takers create a schedule to help them study everything they need to know before they sit an IELTS test. They make time to practise all four English skills – ListeningReadingWriting and Speaking – as they know that each one is different.

If they have trouble with a topic, they attend a FREE Masterclass with an IELTS expert who can teach them how to improve. And, when they’re almost ready to take IELTS, they will complete as many practice tests as they can find. 

So, when there are hundreds of resources to help you study, where do you begin? Click here to access your go-to guide to IELTS preparation. All of our most important materials – both free and paid – are listed here, divided by category.

Start preparing now

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the New Zealand Immigration website for changes that may apply to you. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent.

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