Engineering, surveying, physiotherapy among careers with hidden prospects

With high course fees and only moderate pay and prospects, becoming a telecommunications technician looks like one of ...

With high course fees and only moderate pay and prospects, becoming a telecommunications technician looks like one of the worst career options in the ICT industry.

There may be better alternatives to training to become a nurse, architect or telecommunications technician, according to the Occupational Outlook 2015 report.

The annual study is published by the Government and sets out the pay, job prospects and study fees associated with 50 professions. It uses data gathered directly from the Inland Revenue Department and from tertiary institutions.

For the most part there are few surprises. If you thought vets, doctors, dentists and accountants ticked the boxes for job prospects and pay, but the fees to train to enter those professions were high, you'd be right.

Careers in hairdressing, hospitality and retail sales have some of the worst combinations for pay and job prospects.

The ministry has turned the Occupational Outlook report into a smartphone app. It hasn't yet turned it into a trump card game – but, if it did, here are some of the tricks you might need to win.

1. PHYSIO TRUMPS NURSE

You might think nurses' pay would be lousy but at least they'd have job safety.

Yet not according to the Occupation Outlook 2015 report. Five years after getting their qualifications, nurses earned a middling average salary of $55,600.

The job prospects were only average and course fees to enter the profession were high, typically $18,800.

For those looking for an alternative in the healthcare sector, training to be a physiotherapist might be a better bet. Average courses fees are about $7000 higher because there is an extra year of study, but since trained physios earn an average of $70,034 you could expect to quickly recoup that.

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Job prospects are also better, with the report's needle pointing to the right. Physiotherapists are included on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list – a sign of short supply.

Becoming a healthcare assistant avoids almost all the study fees of both careers and there is no shortage of jobs, but the pay tends to top out at a lowly $40,000 after two or three years' experience.

2. SURVEYING YOUR CAREER

Architects are the fighter pilots of the construction industry. If you are desperate for the brickbats and bouquets involved in designing the next Pompidou Centre or Sydney Opera House, then nothing else may suffice.

But qualified architects' average income of $67,000 shows few are scaling those heights. Average fees are high and job prospects only middling.

Civil engineers may be a little lower in the status stakes but enjoy an income averaging $60,000. This includes those workers who only take a two-year diploma, and the job prospects are excellent, according to the report.

Becoming a quantity surveyor may be an even better bet. An average income of $78,000, excellent job prospects and average study fees averaging $20,000, make it one of the hidden gems among the 50 careers highlighted by the report.

3. TECH NOT ALWAYS A WINNER

Many of the top-paying and most in-demand jobs are in information technology. But becoming a telecommunications or ICT technician could be a career trap to avoid.

At about $18,000, the average course fees are higher than those incurred by software developers, the average pay is lower at a mediocre $50,200 and the job prospects are worse.

Software developers, on the other hand, earn an average of $79,200 and a tertiary qualification is not always required, with much training taking place through short courses or on the job.

 - Stuff

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