Follow the money in 2014

TIME TO SHINE: Computer geeks, rejoice - IT is shaping up to be the standout sector for 2014.
TIME TO SHINE: Computer geeks, rejoice - IT is shaping up to be the standout sector for 2014.

The job market is on the mend. Unemployment is trending down, and the number of positions being advertised is starting to creep up.

In 2014, you may even be able to be a bit pickier about where you choose to be gainfully employed.

The most obvious factor is money. If you love your work, that's fantastic - but the rest of us have got bills to pay.

So we've picked out 10 of the hottest industries for 2014, using the most recent data from the two biggest jobs websites in the country - Trade Me and Seek. 

We're not looking at the average salaries of those already in the sectors, but new jobs being advertised.

For anyone weighing up a fresh start in the New Year, here are a few potentially lucrative career ideas.

1. IT

Median pay: $91,000- $95,000

Computer geeks, rejoice. This is your time to shine. The shy and socially awkward are emerging from parents' basements and dingy bedrooms to take their rightful place in the world.

IT is shaping up to be the standout sector for 2014, taking out the highest salary bracket on Trade Me and fourth place on Seek.

While the median pay is slightly lower than consulting, computer boffins take the top spot because they're such hot property.

The ICT sector alone had almost 40,000 jobs advertised on Seek during 2013. Gurus are in high demand, and they're being paid big money - enough to buy all the tech toys they could ever wish for.

2. Consulting and Strategy

Median pay: $100,000

Taking first place in Seek's salary data is the only industry where the median pay cracks six figures.

Heavyweights like Progressive Enterprises, Fonterra, Deloitte, Fletcher Building and Kiwibank are all advertising jobs that pay upward of $150,000.

However, it's not exactly an entry-level field. Unsurprisingly, the top job usually requires a wall covered in degrees, a tonne of real-world business experience, or both.

Deloitte, for example, ideally wants someone with five to seven years of strategy and operations experience with a top-tier consulting firm.

3. Engineering

Median pay: $75,000- $93,000

Score one for the lads who spent college maths classes obsessively fiddling with their slide rules.

Engineering is the second best-paying industry according to Seek, and takes third place at Trade Me.

While the prospects of dating colleagues of the fairer sex are almost nonexistent, at least the pay is excellent.

There are plenty of jobs being advertised - 800 on Seek alone - and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reports that civil, geotechnical and structural engineers are especially in demand right now due to the Christchurch rebuild.

4. Banking and Financial Services

Median pay: $65,000- $87,000

This category takes fifth place on both websites, but it's a bit of a mixed bag. 

Bank tellers and branch staff start on as little as $35,000, but can end up earning six figures. The biggest money's in corporate banking and management, as you'd expect.

It's worth noting that New Zealand banks have proven their resilience in recent years, and posted record profits to boot - perhaps not a bad industry to get into.

In other financial services, MBIE says a common thread with brokers and financial advisors is they're getting old, with many expected to retire in the next 10-15 years.

That means there's an opportunity for the young and the ambitious. The difficulty is establishing a list of clients, which takes time and a fair amount of hustle to build up.

5. Property

Median pay: $84,000

Property jobs took second place in Trade Me's salary survey, but once again there's a big range.

Whether you're in valuation, property management, or real estate, you're likely to start out on a salary of $40,000 or so.

But the opportunities are there for the enterprising, who can comfortably earn six figures - with the very best jobs advertised paying close to $200k.

6. Construction

Median pay: $55,000- $92,000

The construction industry takes third place on Seek, but don't imagine you're going to crack the big time as a humble hammer-hand.

Some of the jobs advertised start on $25,000 as a labourer, and machine operators don't get paid much more.

It's project managers, site managers and surveyors who are really in the money. However, there are plenty of opportunities out there for the up-and-coming chippie.

MBIE forecasts employment will grow at 2.6 per cent per year until 2016, compared to overall employment growth of 1.6 per cent.

No other major industry is expected to grow so rapidly.

7. HR and Recruitment

Median pay: $65,000- $81,000

People who deal with job applications day in and day out must be pretty clued up about which jobs pay the best.

So it comes as no surprise that the Human Resources and Recruitment category comfortably makes the top 10 on both Seek and Trade Me.

MBIE notes that there's strong competition for general and entry-level jobs, while those with expertise in certain fields are in hot demand.

8. Government, Defence and Council

Median pay: $65,000- $79,000

Want to fight for your country? Defence jobs are being advertised for a relatively paltry $40,000-$65,000, which doesn't seem like much compensation if you're putting your life on the line.

The real money's in becoming a pen-pushing warrior for the public service, who earn as much as $125,000-$145,000 in both central and local government.

The public service has started expanding again, after initial cuts made by the National government.

You can read that two ways - either it's a sign of a booming "industry", or it's about time for another major haircut.

9. Marketing and Communications

Median pay: $65,000- $78,000

Who said creative types struggle to put food on the table?

A word of warning for aspiring wordsmiths: Journalism is the lowliest of the bunch, with a median pay of just $45,000, according to jobs listed on Trade Me.

There's much better money in market research ($75,000), brand management ($85,000), and as always, management ($95,000).

10. Science and Tech

Median pay: $65,000- $70,000

It's disappointing that science boffins don't make a lot of money, but at least they sneak onto the list in tenth place.

The pay might not be top-notch, but there are good job prospects. There are so few agricultural and forestry scientists, for example, that Immigration New Zealand has put them on the list of skills in shortage.

That means they're trying to get Johnny Foreigner to come over and fill the void.

There you have it - the 10 hottest careers heading into 2014.

Do bear in mind that the job market can change fast. Industries that were raking in cash one year could have dried up five or 10 years down the track.

Money should never be your only motivation, either-six figures might not be worth it if you're working 60 hour weeks, ruining your health and never getting to see your family.

But if you're looking to re-train or just starting out in the workforce, it certainly pays to do your homework first.

For more reading on specific jobs and industries, check out MBIE's occupation outlook for the year ahead.

Fairfax Media