Types of employment

In today’s world, there are a wide range of ways to be employed.

Below you’ll find some of the different types of employment options and work environments that you may encounter during your career.

Paid employment

People in paid employment agree to work for an employer under a contract of service for some form of payment.

Further information about the types of pay an employee can get is available on the Employment New Zealand website.


A self-employed person is someone whose income is directly dependent on the profits of their business.

Self-employment advice

  • business.govt.nz
    A New Zealand government business portal designed to help those who want to run their own business.
  • Business Mentors New Zealand
    Not-for-profit organisation helping existing small businesses by giving them access to volunteer business mentors.
  • Māori Business Growth Support
    If you are Māori and interested in starting up a business, or wanting to improve an existing business, the Māori Business Growth Support from Te Puni Kōkiri may be able to help you establish and grow your business.
  • Poutama Trust
    Independent charitable trust providing business development services for Māori. Supports Māori businesses to achieve sustainable growth.
  • NZ Māori Tourism
    Independent incorporated society that works collaboratively with the Māori tourism sector.
  • TSBC (The Small Business Company)
    Private provider of business advice and resources for small businesses.

Business incubators

These organisations offer practical help, advice, resources and support in an "incubator" environment.

  • Velocity
    Velocity is the innovation and entrepreneurship programme of the University of Auckland, helping students become innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • The Icehouse
    Founded by the University of Auckland Business School in 2001, The Icehouse supports Kiwi business owners and entrepreneurs to succeed through knowledge, connection and investment.

Contract work

This can be defined as an agreement to perform a task for a certain rate of pay. An independent contractor's point of difference between paid employment lies in the way in which the contractor has full control over time and equipment.

They are responsible for paying their own income tax and ACC levies. In the case of IT professionals, a contract could be established to build a database or install some software. Typically, contract work means the contractor can choose their own hours of work, the volume of work, and their own rate of pay.

Further information: Employment New Zealand - Contractor versus employee

Portfolio careers

This is defined as a situation where instead of working one full-time job a worker maintains a variety of positions for multiple employers and can also be engaged in self-employment simultaneously.

They could for example be involved in part-time employment, temporary jobs, freelancing or contract work, and self-employment culminating in full-time hours.

A portfolio career requires a high degree of organisational skill to juggle a number of different commitments at once; however, this type of work arrangement offers variety and flexibility.

Find out more: Careers NZ - Building a portfolio career

Working in the public sector (Government organisations)

Government organisations are described as any asset, industry or corporation at national, regional or local level that is owned by the government. These are also known as public sector or state owned enterprises (SOE).

Some SOE's in New Zealand include organisations and agencies such as Tertiary Institutions, District Health Boards, The Reserve Bank, Ministries, Defence services and Crown Research Institutes.

Working for a government organisation offers a wide range of occupational opportunities at a variety of levels.

Working in the private sector

This consists of working for entities that are not controlled by the state, such as private firms and companies, corporations, private banks, and non-governmental organisations.

Some private organisations are large and employ hundreds of employees while others are described as small enterprises (under 19 employees) or medium enterprises (under 100 employees).

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

This is an organisation that is not part of a government. Although the definition can technically include for-profit corporations, the term is generally restricted to non-commercial advocacy groups.

NGOs are usually non-profit organisations that gain at least a portion of their funding from private sources. They are generally associated with the United Nations, and authentic NGOs are those that are so designated by the UN. As the label "NGO" is broad (it might cover anything that is non-governmental), many NGOs now prefer the term private voluntary organization (PVO).