Science is more than just chemistry sets and white coats. It’s about understanding our world and how it works.

The work that scientists do can change people’s lives for the better – from break-through drugs and exciting new products, to solving climate change and reducing our impact on the environment. 

There are lots of different kinds of scientists in New Zealand doing a wide range of work in areas such as medical research, advanced materials development, seismology (earthquake science), ecology, chemistry and sustainability. 

Different types of scientific research: 

  • Basic research aimed at increasing our understanding of how the world around us works 
  • Applied research, which is more focused on finding solutions to defined problems 
  • Research & development (R&D) using applied science to make new products and improve processes 

Opportunities in science: 

Demand for people with science qualifications is generally good, but varies from industry to industry. 

  • People with relevant engineering and technology qualifications are in demand, particularly for R&D roles in industry 
  • Food scientists and technologists, environmental scientists and geologists have a better chance of finding work than many other disciplines 
  • There are limited opportunities for scientists doing basic or ‘pure’ science, as there is less funding for this kind of research 
  • There are more applied science roles available in research organisations and in companies, but availability varies significantly depending on the type of science 
  • Your chances of finding a job as a forensic scientist or technician are poor as there is an oversupply of people qualified to work in this small industry in New Zealand

What kind of jobs do scientists have? 

Forestry Scientist

Forestry scientists research forest growth, wood processing, conservation and different types of trees and how these can be used.

Food Technologist

Food technologists investigate and analyse food, from harvest to processing, cooking, and consumption. They may be involved in providing accurate nutritional information for food labels and checking the safety and quality of food. 


Biotechnologists use their knowledge of living organisms to create new animal or plant-based products such as pest-resistant crops and pharmaceuticals. 


Microbiologists study organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae or fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals and humans. They also develop products and procedures to benefit humans or the environment. 

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists study the environment and how plants, animals and other organisms are affected by it. They also study external influences, such as pollutants, and advise how to avoid or reduce harmful effects on the environment.