Subject Choice & Careers

What subjects do I need? 
When making decisions about subjects it is important to remember that for many courses (tertiary institutions), employment training situations and careers that you may want to do when you leave school may/will require you to have studied particular subjects at school. It is important that you have a general idea of what sort of career pathway you may wish to pursue and investigate what subjects will give you the best opportunities to do so.

Occupation Outlook is a mobile app for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.  It is a great tool for exploring study and career options, with extensive information on labour supply and demand in over 100 occupations in New Zealand.


When selecting your school subjects make sure you check out the Recommended School Subjects for various courses.

University of CanterburyUniversity of OtagoUniversity of AucklandVictoria University WellingtonMasseyAUT

RECOMMENDED – These subjects provide a strong background of knowledge and skills needed for further study and training. Subjects recommended for tertiary study and job training are listed in the following tables. 

COMPULSORY– these subjects provide necessary building blocks of knowledge and skills. You must have these subjects in order to gain entry into specific courses either at
school or at tertiary Level.

a) Study at school – many subjects have pre-requisites at each year Level, check summaries
b) Study at tertiary Level
c) Entering on job training /apprenticeships – eg. ECTO electrical apprenticeships (see below).

KEY REMINDERS for choosing your subjects:
Keep your selection broad – your ideas may change over time Check the recommended and compulsory subjects that you may need for further study at school or at tertiary Level While this guide gives you the minimum requirements for your chosen career pathway at present you will need to gain more than the level stated

Subject Guide for Apprenticeships and On Job Training
All Modern Apprenticeships and pre apprenticeship programmes in work places are administered by ITO’s (Industry Training Organisations). Pre apprenticeship programmes are at Level Two and Apprenticeships are almost wholly Level Four. It is advisable to achieve some of the Pre Apprenticeship skills while still at school such as communication, health and safety and first aid which are all core generics for apprenticeships. You should aim for a minimum of 14 credits in both English and Maths and the majority of apprenticeships require you to have studied a Science subject at Level One. It is vital to realise that future employers are looking to employ people that show these key competencies/employment skills:

  • Thinking/Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Manages Self (time management/presentation)
  • Relates to others
  • Participates and contributes (is actively involved in situations)
  • Technologically aware

and above all shows a positive attitude and a sense of pride in self. All of these key competencies are part of your learning while at school and are a building block along with
subject knowledge for your future.