Learning and working in the social and community service industries

Find out about standards, opportunities and careers

What's the work like?

What kind of careers are found along this pathway?

Jobs in the social and community service industries have a real impact, this is an industry that’s essential for community well-being and safety. It can be exciting, personally rewarding as well as physically and emotionally demanding. You’ll be helping people at the most critical times in their lives. What you do, and how you do it, matters deeply and can make a huge difference to their quality of life.

This industry covers community and social services, defence, emergency services, healthcare and medicine, public sector, education, protection and security, and Whānau Ora.

Careers in this pathway are all about supporting the community and caring for people in need. You may be working for the Government or the private sector, you could move from place to place. You’ll be dealing with people of all ages and walks of life. You may find yourself in challenging, fast-changing situations which involve quick thinking and making decisions under pressure.

Wherever you work you’re likely to be part of a strong, committed team and many of them may be volunteers. Your working hours can vary as people need care 24/7. So depending on your role, you might work in shifts or be on call.

Examples of jobs in this pathway include:

  • careers adviser, community worker, counsellor, psychologist (clinical, criminal justice, educational), funeral director/embalmer, home aide, life coach, early childhood educator, social worker, teacher, support worker, therapist (art, music, occupational therapy, psychotherapy)
  • combat/warfare specialist, communications operator, driver, engineering officer, fire-fighter, gunner/ rifleman, medic, mapmaker, pilot, steward, technician/specialist (aircraft, avionics, electronics, hydrographic, ICT, logistics, supply and others)
  • ambulance officer/paramedic, animal control officer, border protection/bio-security officer, corrections officer, criminologist, customs officer, conservation worker/manager, emergency management officer, environmental health officer, fire-fighter, fisheries officer, health and safety inspector, immigration officer, loss prevention officer, parking warden, personal protection officer, police officer/detective, private investigator, probation officer
  • nurse (community, district, hospital, mental health, Plunket, practice, public health), nurse aide, midwife, health and safety officer, health care assistant, health promoter/educator, caregiver, rest home manager

Where might you end up?

This is an industry where you can continually develop and upskill. If you are committed to your job and willing to take on further study you can progress quickly. You could start off as a support worker and work your way up to being a team leader, crew leader, or manager. Or start working as a hospital orderly and study and work your way to becoming a nurse. With core skills and experience in one industry you will be able to change careers by moving into a related industry.

What's great about this industry?

And why is it important to New Zealand?

This is a highly social industry so if you’re a people person this could be the pathway for you. Even if you work alone you’re likely to have a strong team behind you that supports and depends on you. It’s also a huge employer and the skills you gain here can be highly transferable from one workplace to another, even overseas.

This is a large and ever-growing sector and the jobs within it are essential for community well-being and safety. Demand for workers in the social and community service industries is expected to continue and increase in the future. If you care about people and want to really make a difference then jobs in this pathway can be very rewarding.

Why is this sector important?

As New Zealand’s ageing population increases they will need to be housed, managed and cared for, this industry is vital to the wellbeing of our citizens. There’s a constant demand for more police, corrections and security officers as well as an increasing need for immigration, customs and quarantine officers as the movement of people and goods increases. The work you do in this industry matters deeply and has a huge impact on many people.

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 social and community service 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 social and community service 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 social and community services 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 social and community services 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