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What does an early childhood teacher earn? Wages, pay scales, and employment benefits

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male teachers and children playing and learning in sandpit at early childhood centre.

Wage rates and pay scales for Kindergarten and Primary school teachers, other ECE teachers and those working in the Home-based ECE sector.

Join our Pay Parity Facebook group and follow us on Instagram for discussions and to follow what’s happening to pay.

Contents – on this page you will find:

  1. Minimum adult wage and the living wage
  2. How much does an ECE teacher earn in their first year?
  3. ECE centre teachers how to work out what pay step you should be on
  4. Who to contact regarding problems with your pay
  5. Are you paid a salary but asked to work more than 40 hours a week?
  6. Early childhood centre teacher minimum pay scales for salary attestation with the Ministry of Education
  7. Kindergarten Association and Primary School teacher pay parity salaries under Collective Agreements with the Government
  8. Home-based pay rates
  9. Employment benefits and job perks
  10. The value of working in a happy supportive professional atmosphere   
  11. Should we rely on the Kindergarten Teachers Collective agreement as the benchmark for pay parity?
  12. Salary rate changes overtime

(1) Minimum adult wage and living wage

The minimum wage for a worker in NZ will increase from $22.70 to $23.15 an hour from 1 April 2024.

From 1 September 2023, the Living Wage is $26.00 an hour.

(2) How much does an early childhood teacher earn in their first year?

In your first year of teaching after gaining your qualification and registering with the Teaching Council for a practising certificate you may earn as little as the minimum adult wage (see above). But if your centre has opted in to receive funding for the first pay step for pay parity then you should be paid at least $27.58 (rate effective from 1 Dec 2023). After completing a full-time year of work (or equivalent of 2080 hours) you can expect to go to the next pay step.

Teachers can negotiate and ask for higher pay above the minimum pay parity amounts.

(3) How to work out what Pay Step you should be on

There is an official Ministry pay calculator if you would like to use it to work out and check what the right pay step is for you. Or to do this without using the calculator, here are the steps:

  1. Check your qualifications. See in the salary scale what your starting pay step would be depending on if you have a teaching qualification only, or if you also hold a higher qualification(s).
  2. Next check how much previous paid work experience you have had, if any. Previous experience must have occurred within the last 10 years and be directly relevant to your teaching duties and responsibilities. Previous experience can be credited as half-credit up to a maximum of two pay steps. So, 4 years full-time relevant work experience, will put you up two pay steps; or 1 year full-time will count as six months of service. Some examples of relevant work experience include working as an unqualified teacher in an ECE centre, teacher education lecturers, teacher aides, special education workers, social workers, zoo education officers.
  3. After each full-time year of working as a qualified and certificated teacher in ECE, or the equivalent of equivalent to 2080 hours worked part-time over more than one year, you can progress up one additional pay step.
  4. When you complete a further qualification(s) you are entitled to be moved to the step reflective of your improved qualification(s) and credited years of service. 

Before accepting any teaching position, clarify with your employer that they offer at least Full pay parity and not partial or no pay parity.  Ideally your centre will provide its teachers with FULL pay parity.  

Read: How to ask for more pay and negotiate a pay increase with your employer
Learn more about: Pay Parity 
Join our Pay Parity Facebook group 

(4) Who to contact regarding problems with your pay or what pay step your employer has put you on

Teachers who are not satisfied with what pay step their employer has placed them on can Email: [email protected]

When a centre does not pay all of its certificated teachers correctly you should inform the Ministry of Education as it could be breaching the conditions of the funding it receives. Email: [email protected]   When asking questions or reporting a centre you can ask to be anonymous and for the Ministry not to reveal your identity.

There is a ministry list of what level of pay parity (extended, Steps 1-6, Step 1 only, or full pay parity) each ECE service has signed up for. Names of ECE Centres Providing Pay Parity Centres can change their attestation response with the ministry at any time, for example it may have opted-in for extended pay parity funding and then change its mind and tell the ministry it wants to be funded for full pay parity.

(5) Are you paid a salary but asked to work more than 40 hours a week?

QUESTION: Can a centre meet the Ministry of Education salary attestation rules by paying a teacher at the stated salary amount for their pay step when the teacher works 40 hours a week and attends 2 hourly staff meetings each week (total hours per week are 42)?

ANSWER: No, an employer must pay more. The stated salary minimum amount for a pay step should be calculated as a salary or wage for someone working 40 hours, not more than 40 hours.  For example, Step 1 minimum pay rate is a salary of $57,358 or $27.58 hour.  If a teacher is working 42 hours a week, then for the purpose of salary attestation the employer must be able to show they have paid both the minimum salary amount and $24.69 per hour for any hours above 40. So, someone who works 42 hours a week should be earning a minimum of $57,358.00 + $27.58 +$27.58 = $57,413.16.

(6) ECE centre teacher pay scales

Partial Pay Parity (“Extended” Steps 1 – 11 plus manager; or Steps 1- 6 only; or Step 1 only)

STEPQUALIFICATIONFROM 1 DEC 2023
1P1-3 Entry level for a beginner qualified teacher who holds a practising certificate$57,358
$27.58 hour
2 $59,544
$28.63 hour
3P3+ Entry level for beginner teacher who also holds a Level 7 qual that is not a teaching qual or holds an honours degree in teaching$61,948
$29.78 hour
4P4 Entry level for beginner teacher who also holds a Masters degree of teaching or two Level 7 qualifications that are not teaching$64,133
$30.83 hour
5P5 Entry level for a beginner teacher who holds a subject or specialist level 9 qualification on the NZQF – masters or doctorate$67,794
$32.59 hour
6 $71,869
$34.55 hour
7 $74,152 $35.65 hour
8 $76,403
$36.73 hour
9 $78,715 $37.84 hour
10Maximum pay step for P1-3$81,112 $39.00 hour
11Maximum step for P3+, P4 & 5$85,457
$41.09 hour
 ManagerManager minimum pay amount for a head teacher also known as a centre manager, also includes managers responsible for multiple centres – K2, K3, and K4$85,457
$41.09 hour

Full Pay Parity Salary Scale

STEPQUALIFICATION GROUPFull pay parity FROM 1 DEC 2023
1P1-3 Entry level for a beginner teacher who holds a practising certificate$57,358
$27.58 hour
2 $59,544
$28.63 hour
3P3+ Entry level for beginner teacher who also holds a Level 7 qual that is not a teaching qual or holds an honours degree in teaching$61,948
$29.78 hour
4P4 Entry level for beginner teacher who also holds a Masters degree of teaching or two Level 7 qualifications that are not teaching$64,133
$30.83 hour
5P5 Entry level for a beginner teacher who holds a subject or specialist level 9 qualification on the NZQF – masters or doctorate$67,794
$32.59 hour
6 $71,869
$34.55 hour
7 $76,261
$36.66 hour
8 $81,566
$39.21 hour
9 $85,915
$41.31 hour
10Maximum step for P1-3$92,175
$44.31 hour
11Maximum step for P3+, P4 & 5$96,820
$46.56 hour
ManagementK2 Centre Manager$101,120
$48.62 hour
K3 senior teacher for staff at more than 1 centre$106,427
$51.17 hour
K4 manager of the K2 and K3 managers$115,123
$55.35 hour
An indicative hourly rate can be found by dividing the minimum salary level by 2080 (40 hours x 52 weeks), rounding is to be applied to at least two decimal places.

(7) Kindergarten Association and Primary School Teacher Pay Rates

Click on this link to view the variation to Kindergarten Collective that includes salary increases from 3 April.

Base Salary Scale for Kindergarten Assn and Primary School teachers

STEPQual GROUPKindergarten rates from 1 Dec 2023Primary & Kindergarten Rates from 3 April 2024Primary & Kindergarten Rates from 2 Dec 2024
1P1 Entry$57,358$59,027$61,329
2P3+Entry$61,948$61,948$64,083
3P4 Entry$64,133$64,133$66,586
5P5 Entry$67,794$68,122$70,779
5 $71,869$72,512$75,340
6 $76,261$77,213$80,224
7 $81,566$82,890$86,123
8 $85,915$87,545$90,960
9P3 Maximum$92,175$94,245$97,920
10P3+M, P4M, P5M$96,820$99,216$103,086
An indicative hourly rate can be found by dividing the minimum salary level by 2080 (40 hours x 52 weeks), rounding is to be applied to at least two decimal places.

Management scale for teachers in Kindergarten Associations

FROM
1 DEC 2023
FROM
1 JULY 2024
FROM
2 DEC 2024
K2 reliever (less than 10 weeks) centre manager$99,120$101,622$105,664
K2 centre manager$101,120$103,662$107,664
K3 Senior Teachers$106,427$109,061$113,315
K4 Senior Teachers$115,123$117,972$122,574

(8) Home-based pay rates

outings and trip: home-based care

Visiting teachers must be qualified and certified teachers. Homebased ECE is a teacher-led service. The government does not support pay parity through higher funding for home-based services. But home-based agencies must remain competitive with centres to attract teaching staff, and therefore salaries are usually very similar. Costs that visiting teachers and coordinators incur while carrying out their job, such as phone use and travel, are usually reimbursed by the employer.

Home-based educators are usually independent contractors and therefore don’t have employment protections, provision for sick leave, holiday pay, etc. A home-based educator can have up to 4 children. Educator charges vary widely between $6. – $15 per hour. What an educator earns depends on what they can charge families and what families agree to pay, as well as how much of the subsidy collected by the agency is passed on to them. A home-based educator may find that the money is good (and quite possibly earn more than a teacher who works in an education and care centre), but out of the income received there can be significant costs if the care is taking place within the educator’s own home (some of these costs are tax deductible).

Nannies are often employed directly by families, while homebased agencies can provide support and supervision which is funded by the Ministry of Education

(9) Employment benefits and job perks

In addition to pay, employment benefits may be provided, such as:

  • Free tea/coffee and/or lunch
  • Paid staff social outings. This is a perk if it is optional for you to participate and not expected by your employer.
  • Car park. This is a perk if the employer covers the cost of renting or leasing the park. If it is on land owned by the service or available to staff or users of the service then it’s not technically a benefit that forms part of the pay package.
  • Gym membership or subsidised membership at a local gym
  • Flexibility in work hours. This is a big benefit for many working in early childhood education, who may have young children or school aged children or elderly parents and other family responsibilities.
  • Free or subsidised childcare. It is common for discount of around 50% to be given to staff by employers. Few services offer entirely free childcare except in hard-to-staff areas and not all will allow staff to enrol their child at their service.
  • Paid doctor visits
  • Health insurance cover
  • Income protection insurance cover
  • Check out if your ECE employer offers more than the minimum legally required conditions under employment law for:
    • Kiwisaver
    • Annual leave
    • Sick leave  

What is not a perk or benefit of the job – but rather should be treated as part of the job

  • Non-contact time 
  • Professional development leave and course fees paid where directly related to the work of the teacher.
  • Payment of cost of renewing teaching practising certificate, first aid refresher courses, etc.
  • Uniform or items of clothing with the service logo – unless wearing the uniform is optional this is not a perk of the job but a requirement of employment.

(10) The value of working in a happy supportive professional atmosphere  

boys play and achievement

People who are attracted to working in early childhood education and care usually decide on this occupation for social reasons; they like people and they like children.

Social support, friendship and having colleagues you can rely on really do matter!

Working with children as part of a team is a reason why many people go for early childhood teaching over primary teaching. In primary teaching you can be in a classroom with a group of children alone whereas in early childhood you are part of a team!

(11) Why we should not rely on the KTCA for pay parity

The government has backtracked on being the part-owner of kindergartens and says kindergartens are not state services. It sees teachers as being employed by kindergarten associations even though it negotiates a collective agreement for teacher pay and conditions with the NZEI. Therefore, in case the government ever chooses to walk away from the pay negotiating table with the union at any time in the future, it is necessary for pay parity for ECE teachers to be enshrined in law so no government can renege on the commitment to pay parity.  

The government needs to make a legal commitment to pay parity for teachers in kindergartens and non-kindergarten teacher-led centres pegged to what public school teachers earn.

(12) Attestation rate changes overtime

The table below shows changes in salary attestation rates for teachers in different qualification groups since 2015.

Qual Group

 2015

 2017 (from 1 July)

2019 (from 1 Aug) 

2020 (from 1 July)

2021 (from 1 July)

2022

P1& P2

$19.45

$19.74

$21.87

$23.97

$24.69

$24.69

P3

$21.33

$21.65

$21.87

$23.97

$24.69

$24.69

P3+

$21.96

$22.29

$22.51

$23.97

$24.69

$26.90

P4E

$21.96

$22.29

$22.51

$23.97

$24.69

$27.95

P5E

$21.96

$22.29

$22.51

$23.97

$24.69

$29.71

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