The highest paying jobs in construction, architecture and engineering

The highest paying jobs in construction, architecture and engineering 2023 - 2024

two construction professionals in the construction site
The construction industry continues to have a significant impact on New Zealand’s economy. It’s the third largest employer, giving jobs to almost 300K people in the year ended June 2022, as well as contributing to 6.7 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP for the year ended in March 2022. 
So what does the future hold for construction? 
  • Population growth will place increased pressure on ageing assets, roads, public transport and other infrastructure. 
  • Momentum towards climate change mitigation will quicken, meaning existing and future infrastructure will need to be adapted. 
  • Inflation and labour shortages are causing a constrained labour market.
  • Increases in tourism activity will support commercial construction such as retail and hospitality buildings.
  • Digital transformations will begin to be leveraged and integrated in the sector.
This will create significant demand on not only construction, but architecture and engineering as well – and the skills required are in short supply, heightening salaries across the board.
Of course, your professional aspirations and career goals should not only focus on monetary compensation. With that said, knowing what jobs pay the most can help you plan your next career move and put you on the path to becoming one of New Zealand’s top earners. 
For organisations, being aware of the salaries across your industry can help to drive your talent strategies and leave you well-positioned to attract the right talent to your organisation.

The highest paying construction, architecture and engineering jobs in New Zealand in 2023 - 2024

The Hays Salary Guide gives insight into recruitment trends and provides salary data for a hundreds of jobs across New Zealand. Based on this data, we’ve collated the following list of some of New Zealand’s highest paying jobs. 
Unless stated otherwise, all the salaries listed will be for professionals in Auckland. While Auckland typically dominates in average salary, sometimes the highest paying roles can be found across Wellington and Christchurch.
For salaries in other locations or other roles in your field, please see our complete Hays Salary Guide.

Construction: Construction manager (up to $224K)

The construction sector has no shortage of in-demand and high paying roles across different areas such as residential, building and civil sectors. Building construction manager remains the highest paying role in this industry, with an average salary range of $153-224K. With increased demand for infrastructure due to rapid population growth, new demand in the sustainability sector and continued labour shortages among other factors, construction managers are well placed and more relied upon than ever to be able to lead increased project volumes.
Construction managers are responsible for overseeing projects from inception to delivery and are expected to be able to liaise with other construction professionals and the client. This requires excellent communication and collaboration skills, the ability to understand project lifecycles and strong technical construction skills such as carpentry, surveying and plumbing built from years of experience in the industry. 
In contrast, in civil construction, the highest typical salaries for construction managers comes in at $200K. 
In residential construction, both construction managers and project managers are the highest earning positions in this area, both taking home a typical salary of $140K in Auckland, with salaries reaching as high as $180K for residential construction managers in Wellington and the South Island. 

Construction: Design manager ($138K)

Design managers are also in short supply and therefore one of the most highly paid professions in building construction. Design managers are tasked with coordinating the design function during construction projects, bringing together architects and engineering teams to create the designs which are then used to build and maintain the structure. Design managers in building construction can typically take home $138K, with salaries even reaching as high as $153K in Auckland.
In civil construction, while average salaries are lower, design managers can still earn a salary of $138K on average.

Construction: Senior estimator (up to $170K)

A senior estimator’s main responsibility includes being able to evaluate everything from the cost, resources, labour and time required for construction projects. Infrastructure demand means estimators are required to ensure resources are properly managed and deadlines are met, meaning they’re in high demand and salaries on offer reflect this.
Estimators across all seniority levels in building construction can be compensated generously, with senior estimators commonly taking home a salary of $150K, although in Auckland that salary can stretch to $170K. Moving down in seniority, junior to intermediate estimators can see a salary of $90K on average. 

Engineering: Group manager/principal (up to $260K)

Principals and directors in engineering, particularly in structural engineering, are among the highest earners in engineering in New Zealand. While the salary can have a large spread depending on location, a salary for someone in this position can reach up to $260K.
In today’s rapidly evolving construction landscape, effective principals are being relied upon more than ever, especially when it comes to both building design and civil and structural engineering. Principals are backed by years of experience across a vast portfolio of projects, which places them as the most skilled engineer on any project. They oversee and manage the full design process, from research and development all the way to the design as well as being responsible for the guidance and consulting of other engineers involved.

Engineering: Civil project manager (up to $170K)

Local government engineering roles can offer lucrative salaries for engineers with many jobs across all levels of experience paying well. The highest of these being a civil project manager, taking home up to $170K if based in Auckland. There are also good salaries on offer for traffic engineers ($105K), civil designers ($110K) and asset managers ($115K).
Civil project managers have an integral role to play when it comes to overseeing engineering projects in a local government context. They must ensure compliance for any projects, navigate regulations and legislation and ensure projects are delivered on time and budget.

Architecture: BIM/CAD manager ($130K)

The jobs market for professionals in architecture has improved significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19. Shortages in skilled candidates have helped to inflate architecture salaries offered by employers. BIM/CAD managers earn the highest salaries in the architecture sector, collecting $130K a year on average.
A BIM manager oversees an organisation’s building information modelling process and needs to possess exemplary people management skills as they work as a mediator between multiple stakeholders such as architects, designers and clients. CAD managers are responsible for overseeing the computer-aided design team and ensuring smooth operation of its systems.

Architecture: Senior planner (up to $130K)

Population growth and the need for increased infrastructure means demand and pay are being heightened for experienced senior planners. Planners contribute and coordinate planning reports, strategic projects, planning proposals and development applications. 
Senior planners with more than five years’ experience in the industry can earn a salary as high as $130K in Auckland. Planners with two to five years’ experience meanwhile can earn up to $95K. 

Find more of New Zealand’s highest paying jobs

Construction, architecture and engineering professionals have become some of the highest earners in New Zealand, thanks to an increased demand that far outweighs the skills present. If you’re thinking about a career change into any of these areas, it’s time to start mapping out what steps you need to take to reach one of these high earning positions. 
Download the Hays Salary Guide for more insights on salaries across New Zealand’s top industries. Drawing on data from more than 14,000 respondents in Australia and New Zealand, the Hays Salary Guide extends far beyond salaries to offer market insights and emerging workforce trends for both employers and jobseekers alike.  

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