Wage Rates, Pay Scales and Employment Benefits

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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 may earn as little as the minimum adult wage. But if your centre has opted in to receive funding for the first 5 pay steps for pay parity with school and kindergarten teachers then you should be paid at least $24.69 an hour. After completing a full-time year of work (or equivalent) you can expect to go up a pay step.

STEPQUALIFICATION GROUP Salary (maximum 40 Hour-week)Hourly
1Entry level for a beginner teacher who holds a practising certificate$51,358$24.69
2 $53,544$25.74
3Entry level for beginner teacher who also has: a Level 7 qualification that is not a teaching qualification or an honours degree in teaching$55,948$26.90
4Entry level for beginner teacher who also has: a Masters degree of teaching or two Level 7 qualifications that are not teaching$58,133$27.95
5Entry level for beginner teacher who also has a Level 9 qualification (Masters or Doctorate)$61,794$29.71

For more details and extended pay rates go to: Early Childhood Teacher Pay Scale
And see: How to ask for more pay and negotiate a pay increase with your employer
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  

Also see the Kindergarten Pay Rates Compared with Pay Rates Funded by Government for Teachers in Other Teacher-Led Centres

And see: Staff pay reviews – When and how to do these

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 minimum wage for a worker in NZ is $21.20 an hour. 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).

Kindergarten teacher pay rates compared with teachers in non-kindergarten centres

In 2022, non-kindergarten centres can opt-in to paying all their teachers at least on the bottom 5 pay steps of the teacher base salary scale in return for a ‘pay parity’ funding incentive from the Ministry of Education.

From 1 Jan 2023 the bottom 5 pay steps becomes the bottom 6 pay steps. In addition the Ministry is offering another set of slightly higher funding rates for centres that pay all their teachers at least on some additional pay steps the Ministry has created (these pay steps are at lower amounts than kindergarten and school teachers).  Teachers can negotiate and ask for higher payer than the rates below and there is a shortage of qualified ECE teachers in many areas in NZ so an employer can be willing to negotiate.  

StepsQualification levelKindergarten Association teachers (may increase when new pay rates are ratified in June 2022)Non-kindergarten centre teachers’ salary attestation rates for “extended parity funding” from 1 Jan 2023% Difference
1Entry for teachers with P1 Diploma, P2, or P3 quals$24.69 hour
$51,358 salary
$24.69 hour
$51,358 salary
2 $25.74 hour
$53,544 salary
$25.74 hour
$53,544 salary
3Entry for P3+ qual$26.90 hour
$55,948 salary
$26.90 hour
$55,948 salary
4Entry for P4$27.95 hour
$58,133 salary
$27.95 hour
$58,133 salary
5Entry for P5$29.71 hour
$61,794 salary
$29.71 hour
$61,794 salary
6$31.62 hour
$65,776 salary
$31.62 hour
$65,776 salary
7 $33.67 hour
$70,040 salary
$32.74 hour
$68,103 salary
2.8% less
8 $36.15 hour
$75,190 salary
$33.86 hour
$70,431 salary
6.3% less
9$38.18 hour
$79,413 salary
$34.98 hour
$72,758 salary
8.4% less
10Maximum step for P1, P2, P3$41.10 hour
$85,490 salary
$36.17 hour
$75,230 salary
12.0% less
11Maximum step for P3+, P4, P5$43.27 hour
$90,000 salary
$38.18 hour
$79,413 salary
11.8% less
Centre Manager/Person Responsible K2 $45.28 hour
$94,175 salary
$38.18 hour
$79,413 salary
15.7% less
Senior professional manager teacher K3 $47.75 hour
$99,327 salary
$38.18 hour
$79,413 salary
20.1% less
Senior professional manager K4 in charge of K3 and K2 Managers $51.81 hour
$107,770 salary
$38.18 hour
$79,413 salary
26.3% less

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. 

Attestation rate changes overtime

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

Qual Group


 2017 (from 1 July)

2019 (from 1 Aug) 

2020 (from 1 July)

2021 (from 1 July)


P1& P2



































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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