New Zealand's booming property market, at a time when other jobs are disappearing, has made real estate agents one of the country's 10 most popular jobs in 2020.
Police officers once again topped the list of most-searched-for jobs on the Careers NZ website, even though police recruitment has been suspended since last June because of a surge in applications.
Most other jobs in the top 10 have also featured in previous lists produced over the past two years, including nurses, psychologists, teachers and accountants.
But this time real estate agents have entered the top 10 for the first time, apparently driven by both the residential property boom and people losing other jobs due to the loss of tourists and international students.
"New to the list, real estate agent had the largest increase in searches compared to 2019," the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) said.
Real Estate Authority data also shows a big jump in new approved real estate licences in the second half of last year, up 45 per cent from 846 new licences in the last half of 2019 to 1229 in the last half of 2020.
The increase has continued this year, although not quite so dramatically, with new licences approved up from 324 in January and February last year to 386 in the same period this year.
Real Estate Authority chief executive Belinda Moffat said the average age of someone applying for a real estate licence was 38 - "which suggests applicants are bringing their skills and experience to real estate after having had careers in other fields".
"Real estate professionals need to renew their licence every year. Our data indicates that after one year, 21 per cent of new licensees are no longer active, and 33 per cent are no longer active after two years."
Tim Fowler, chief executive of the TEC which runs the Careers NZ website, said he could only speculate on the reasons for real estate jumping into the top 10.
"It probably reflects the state of the property market and the fact that real estate makes use of skills that are transferable from a range of other industries – things like communication, teamwork, willingness to work flexible hours, sales and customer service, and planning and time management.
"That can make the profession attractive to people working in a range of other parts of the economy."
A police spokesperson said police recruitment was suspended because fewer police officers left the force after the first Covid-19 lockdown hit, as other jobs disappeared.
"In 2020 fewer people left police compared to previous years. Since the first Covid-19 lockdown attrition rates have been in the 2 to 3 per cent range which is very low compared with previous years, meaning there has been less of a need for new police recruits.
"We are likely to reopen the pipeline in the coming months on a district or area basis where we need applications most."
The flight to more secure jobs is also a likely explanation for paramedics moving up from sixth place in 2019 to fourth place last year and electricians moving up from 10th to sixth.
Top 10 jobs 2020
1. Police officer (also 1 in 2019)
2. Registered nurse (3)
3. Psychologist (2)
4. Paramedic (6)
5. Accountant (5)
6. Electrician (10)
7. Secondary school teacher (4)
8. Architect (7)
9. Early childhood teacher (9)
10, Real estate agent (not ranked)
Source: Careers NZ