730 new people are needed in the NZ Youth Sector by 2020. And you can become one of them. As a YOUTH WORKER you’ll be able to make a difference in young people’s lives.

What’s involved

Youth workers support young people and their families by helping them develop quality relationships, build healthy connections, and provide them with guidance regarding education, training and employment.   As a youth worker, you might work in a youth centre, community facility or office, school, church, marae, government agency or you might run camps or sports activities. You can work full time, part time or as a volunteer.

Not every day will be the same. You’re not likely to be desk bound as it may involve local travel to meet the young people you work with. The job may involve working shifts, working long or irregular hours or being on call.

A typical day

During a typical day, youth workers may do some or all of the following:

  • develop relationships with young people, and their families/whanau, peers, and communities, and schools, training providers and employers.
  • provide support, information and resources.
  • help young people access the correct support services.
  • plan, deliver and evaluate programmes and events for young people.
  • write reports, prepare funding applications and manage budgets.
  • motivate young people to follow their dreams.

“I have always wanted to make a difference in young peoples’ lives, especially at the young age (from 11 to 18 years old). They often come from fractured homes or lifestyles without a role model and without role models to guide them.”

Philip, Senior Youth Worker, Youth and Cultural Development


  • Good leaders and communicators who can relate to people of all ages and cultures.
  • Good problem-solvers who are able to remain calm in an emergency.
  • Honest, ethical and impartial, and able to keep information private.
  • Energetic and enthusiastic, with a sense of humour.
  • Able to work well under pressure.
  • Well organised.


Youth workers need to have knowledge of:

  • how to work effectively with young people.
  • practices and resources that are useful for working with young people.
  • youth culture and the communities they live in.
  • physical and mental health issues among youth.
  • laws and policies that affect young people.

For youth workers who specialise in working with Māori communities, knowledge of Māori language and culture is essential.

How to become a qualified youth worker

Volunteering is a good way to start to gain some experience.  You learn to become a youth worker through on the job training supported by Careerforce, so you will need to be employed. Your employer can help you gain relevant, practical qualifications while gaining experience in a work environment. Assessment is carried out by assessors within the workplace.

Career Journey

At School Introductory Roles Advancing Roles Leadership Roles/Senior Roles
School Peer Counsellor
Youth Worker in school
Youth Line Volunteer
The Arts
Health and Physical Education
Social Sciences 




Role Titles
Youth Worker
Rangatahi Development Worker
Youth Advocate
Youth Facilitator
Youth Leader
Youth Support Worker
Youth Events
Youth Council
Youth Education Programme
Role Titles
Probation Officer
Youth Pastor/Minister
Youth Justice worker
Sports co-ordinator 





Role Titles
Primary School Teacher
Secondary School Teacher
Social Worker 





  Qualifications Qualifications Qualifications
Gateway Subjects
Follow the Purple Pathway
(Social and Community Services)
New Zealand Certificate in Youth Work (Level 3) New Zealand Certificate in Youth Work (Level 4) Tertiary qualifications

More information

Read more about youth work qualifications
New Zealand Certificate in Youth Work (Level 3)
New Zealand Certificate in Youth Work (Level 4)

In employment

  • Talk to your employer
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce

Still at school?

  • Talk to your Careers Advisor
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce
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