Learning and working in the creative industries

Find out about standards, opportunities and careers

What's the work like?

What kind of careers are found along this pathway?

If you’re the creative, artistic type this could be the pathway for you. It's a really diverse sector full of interesting and exciting opportunities. The creative industries covers visual and performing arts, design, digital technologies, the film industry, events, and so much more.

Examples of jobs in this pathway include:

  • actor, musician, singer, dancer
  • film maker, photographer, technician
  • writer, composer, editor, stylist
  • curator, exhibition manager
  • designer, including graphic, animation, and CGI, computer gaming, architecture, costume, stage and set, lighting and sound, advertising and branding, industrial, interior, and fashion
  • technician, including sound, lighting, props, stage and set, makeup
  • visual artist, sculptor
  • ngā toi and pasifika practitioner, kaiako, kaiāwhina
  • director, producer, content manager, publisher
  • event co-ordinator, arts business manager (kaiwhakahaere), arts leader, cultural advisor, organiser.

In the Creative Industries, some employment is available through arts organisations that develop and provide regular or one-off events, seasons of work, tours, and festivals.

Where might you end up?

This industry is all about hard work, creativity and talent. You could start off as a runner or assistant and work your way up to being a film producer or event manager. You could also be in the right place at the right time and go on to become a famous artist, musician, actor, designer, writer or director. This is a great industry to develop a variety of skills and life experience in many different fields.

Self-employed or project work

Working for yourself as a small business owner or freelancer is common in this industry. It can be very rewarding and a great way to make a living in this sector, although it does come with its own challenges. You will need to develop your own basic accounting, marketing, project management, and self-promotion skills. For practical advice and support see the following:

What's great about this industry?

And why is it important to New Zealand?

There is so much personal and creative satisfaction to be found working within the creative industries and your challenge will be making sure you can earn a living while having fun! It’s a constantly evolving sector, which means you'll gain a variety of skills that will help you progress in your career. 

Career opportunities range from generating creative projects within local communities to leading innovation inside international companies. Your skills are transferable across the other five pathways as well. There are many opportunities to make new discoveries, to travel with performance-based events, to work with other passionate people, and through arts-related projects, to challenge the way people see themselves.

While some individuals are very skilled and excel in arts or design fields, many people in creative industries find great satisfaction working within projects or behind the scenes to support the performers.

Māori Arts within New Zealand

Jobs requiring te reo Māori and/or kaupapa/tikanga Māori awareness continue to grow, along with a strong, contemporary Māori arts scene. One of the organisations leading this growth is Toi Māori Aotearoa. For more information, including subsidiary companies check out:

Why is this sector important?

People in the creative industries help us to discover and communicate who we are and the things we value as human beings, as world citizens, and as Kiwis. They help us understand and communicate our cultural diversity past and present and they can become cultural ambassadors for New Zealand. They tell our stories and help shape the future.

Yep, this is me. How do I follow this pathway?

Plan a course and track standards for careers in this sector.

You’ll need NCEA level 2 as a minimum for entry level jobs or apprenticeships. This will give you a good foundation in the skills and knowledge needed to progress in a career in the creative industries. For other roles you will need to further your education after school by undertaking tertiary study, or on-the-job training.

Assessment Standards tool

If you think this might be the industry for you then use our handy tool to identify the standards needed to create a pathway into the creative industries. Filter by NCEA level, the industry pathway, and standards type.

assessment standards tool

Each standard describes what a learner knows, and can do. Achievement standards carry a number of credits, when achieved these are recorded on the centrally managed Record of Achievement.

All standards included in particular Vocational Pathways are recommended. A sub-set of these recommended standards are also identified as sector-related, you can use the filter to see these. You don’t need to do all of the standards listed in the results. However, if you gain enough credits from the standards we recommend, then you are gaining the skills, knowledge, and competencies that are most important to employers in this industry.

If these are the subjects you enjoy, and these are the sorts of standards that you tend to do well in, then you should definitely consider roles in the creative industries as a possible career option. There are lots of opportunities and a wide range of jobs at many different levels.

If your NCEA level 2 includes 60 credits from recommended standards, including at least 20 credits from sector-related standards, you can have creative industries recognised as your Vocational Pathway.

Vocational Pathways Award

Learners can work towards the Vocational Pathways Award too, which is recorded on their Record of Achievement (NZQA).

Vocational Pathways Award

Record of Achievement