What is the Pay of an Early Childhood Teacher, Educator or Kaiako? – Wage Rates and Pay Scales

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Teacher with girls in outdoor playground feeding baby doll teacher-led centres

Wage rates and pay scales.

Q& A

I am an early childhood teacher – how much will I make?

In your first year of teaching after gaining your qualification and registering with the Teaching Council for a practising certificate you will likely earn an annual salary that is at least equivalent to a primary or secondary school teacher. After your first year of teaching the wages you are paid may not keep up with the pay increases received by teachers in primary and secondary schools. 

That is why we are working hard to achieve pay parity for all qualified and certificated teachers in ECE.  “Pay Parity means the same pay scale as school teachers, that reflects teaching qualification, the same teacher registration and the same professional certification requirements. A teacher is a teacher!” 

Learn more: Pay Parity 
Join our Facebook group and follow what’s happening: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pay.parity 

I am an employer, what are the current going wage rates and pay scales?

For comprehensive pay information and the amounts other services pay their staff go to the 2020/2021 ECE Wages and Pay Scales Guides here:  Wages Guide  

When will the next rise in rates of the Kindy teachers’ agreement be?

The current kindy collective agreement expires on 11 July 2022.  With the announcement of a public sector pay freeze for public servants who earn more than $100,000 a year and a limitation on pay rises available to people who earn more than $60,000 a year it remains to be seen if there will be any change in pay rates until 2024 or later.

What’s the biggest threat 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.

Why is it important not to rely on the kindy teachers’ agreement 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.  

What are the minimum Starting out and Training wage rates

The Starting-out minimum wage is $16.00 per hour (from 1 April 2021).  Starting out workers are 18 and 19-year-olds who: have been paid a benefit for 6 months or more; haven’t worked for 1 employer for longer than 6 months since being on a benefit, and have been with their current employer for less than 6 months.  They may also be up to 19-year-olds whose employment agreement requires them to do at least 40 credits a year of industry training. Please note that no person under the age of 17 years can be employed in ECE.  

The Training minimum wage is – $16.00 per hour (from 1 April 2021).  The Training wage can be paid to workers who are 20 years or older and under their employment agreement, have to do at least 60 credits a year of industry training.

What are the minimum wage rates and pay scales for teachers in ECE services that are not teacher-led centres

The current minimum pay rate of $23.97 an hour that employers of teachers in teacher-led centres claiming funding must at least pay their teachers at, does not apply to other services. The minimum wage for a worker in NZ is $20.00 an hour (from 1 April 2021). There is no national pay scale covering teachers in all publicly-funded and licensed ECE services.

Home-based ECE wage rates and pay scales

child cooking/ cutting out biscuits. Star shaped and love heart shaped. Wage rates and pay scales.

Visiting teachers must be qualified and certified ECE teachers. Home-based ECE is a teacher-led service.

There is no minimum wage linked to funding for qualified and certificated teachers who are visiting teachers and educators. There are no standardised wage rates or pay scales for home-based educators and visiting teachers.

Nannies are often employed directly by families, while agencies provide support and supervision with the funding provided by the Ministry of Education.

Home-based educators on the other hand, are usually asked to work as independent contractors and therefore don’t have employment protections, provision for sick leave, holiday pay, etc. A home-based educator caring for children in his/her own home can have up to a maximum of 4 children. Educator charges vary widely between $6. – $11 per hour, depending on what the educator wants to charge or what the home-based agency provider says should be the charge, the educator’s qualification level, and if caring for fewer than 4 children. Agencies have been known to ask educators to sign contracts specifying rates as low as $4 an hour per child; fortunately this is not the norm. 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).

Wage rates and pay scales linked to funding at Teacher-Led Centres

The wage rate for qualified and certificated teachers in teacher-led centres that employers must attest to paying all their teaching staff at least at in return for claiming incentive funding is currently $24.69 an hour.

Of course, no employer is constrained to pay their teachers at this rate; employers can and should offer high wages to retain and value their staff.

The table below shows changes in the attestation rates since 2015


Qual Group


(from 1 July)

(from 1 Aug) 

(from 1 July)

(from 1 July)

1 & 2

P1& P2









































*(Steps are equivalent to kindy scale but the wage amount is not equivalent except for Steps 1&2 from 2020)

The qualifications a teacher holds determines the pay step they start at.

From 1 January 2022 Non-kindergarten education and care centres can attest to paying their teachers at least on the first 5 wage steps of the Kindy teachers’ agreement in return for a funding incentive

The following table shows in BLACK the wage rates employers from 1 Jan 2022 must at least pay all their qualified and certificated teachers (the new attestation rates).  Note that employers can recognise and reward staff by paying rates that are higher than the funding attestation rates.  Employees can negotiate and ask for higher payer than the minimum rates that employers agree with the government to at least pay their teachers at.  

Service Recognition and Pay progression
For the purposes of determining annual progression from one step to the next, each teacher’s performance will be assessed annually against the appropriate professional standards (Teaching Council standards).
Each year of work as a trained early childhood teacher in a teaching capacity is recognised for pay purposes. Credit earned by working for an early childhood service can be credited over to the next. In addition, employers shall recognise previous paid work experience that is directly relevant to the teacher’s duties and responsibilities and which has occurred within 10 years of the application for credit shall be credited as half-service up to a maximum of two steps. Half credit shall mean that each year (or part thereof) will count as six months (or part thereof) of service for salary purposes.  Examples of previous relevant paid work experience, include teacher education lecturers, teacher aides, special education workers, social workers, zoo education officers.
Teachers who improve their qualification(s), shall be moved to the step reflective of their improved qualification(s) and credited years of service.

Qualification group codes
means Entry or starting level.
M means Qualification Maxima.  The maximum step on the salary scale that a teacher with that qualification level can reach.
P1, P2 and P3 for teachers who hold a current practising certificate but no subject or specialist qualification at level 7 or above on the NZQF.
P3+ for teachers who hold a current practising certificate and:
– a subject or specialist level 7 qualification on the NZQF (i.e. not an initial teacher education qualification) which can be a Diploma (excluding a National Diploma), Graduate Diploma or Degree; or
– an honours degree of teaching; or
– equivalent overseas qualifications recognised by the NZQA or an overseas qualification where NZQA has determined that the qualification has level 7 (graduate) study in a subject or specialist area(s) i.e. any area of study that is not initial teacher education.
P4 for teachers who hold a current practising certificate and:
– a subject or specialist level 8 qualification on the NZQF which can be an honours degree or a Post Graduate Diploma; or
– two subject or specialist level 7 qualifications on the NZQF (as listed above); or
– a masters degree of teaching; or
– equivalent overseas qualifications recognised by the NZQA.
P5 for teachers who hold a current practising certificate and:
– a subject or specialist level 9 qualification on the NZQF – masters or doctorate; or
– equivalent overseas qualifications recognised by the NZQA. 

The Minister of Education has determined that the wage rates shown in BLACK will be applicable only to those teachers employed by Kindergarten Associations whom the government funds for pay parity with primary school teachers. 

The wage rates shown in RED are required to at least be met by all other teacher-led centres which claim higher funding rates. (Note that teacher-led centres can choose to pay their teaching staff on par with teachers employed by Kindergarten Associations. Therefore, before accepting a position at an early childhood centre, teachers are advised to ask their potential employer if they provide pay according to the full pay scale for qualified and certificated ECE teachers as per the kindergarten wage agreement under the State Sector).

Qualification GroupPay steps           
  1st yr2nd3rd yr4th yr5th yr6th yr7th yr8th yr9th yr10th yr11th yr +
P1& P2 & P31 & 2$24.69$25.74$26.90$27.95$29.71$31.62$33.67$36.15$38.18$41.10$43.27
P3+ 3$26.90$27.95$29.71$31.62$33.67$36.15$38.18$41.10$43.27$43.27$43.27
P4E 4$27.95$29.71$31.62$33.67$36.15$38.18$41.10$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27
P5E 5$29.71$31.62$33.67$36.15$38.18$41.10$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27
P1Maximum, P2M, P3M10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10$41.10
P3+M, P4M, P5M11$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27$43.27
Person responsible acting
or temporary less than 10 weeks
Person responsible permanent
or more than 10 weeks
Manager of more than 1 centre$47.75
Manager of senior management staff$51.81

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.

The significance of a happy supportive professional working 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!

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