How to pick NCEA subjects for future success

A father and son look at information on a laptop

Help your young person pick the best NCEA subjects for their future career.

Choosing the right NCEA subjects will give your young person the best chance to get a job they’ll love.

The secret is to discover jobs in demand that require the school subjects your young person likes.

Step 1: Explore jobs in demand and list those that appeal

Sit down with your young person and look at what jobs are in demand. Some jobs are listed on our jobs in skill shortage page.

Please note, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic jobs in demand could change quickly.

Step 1 example

Your young person looks through the list of jobs in skill shortage. They like the idea of practical jobs in agriculture and horticulture, or manufacturing, and make a list of possible jobs in those areas – arborist, beekeeper and winemaker.

The job descriptions say:

  • Arborists plant and remove trees, prune branches and treat disease.
  • Beekeepers look after beehives in apiaries that produce honey, wax, pollen and other products. Beekeepers also offer pollination services to horticultural and seed crop producers.
  • Winemakers make wine from grapes and other fruit.

Step 2: Narrow down their choices

Explore more information about the jobs on your young person’s list by clicking through from the skill shortage list. For each job, look at:

  • what tasks the job involves – in the ‘What you will do’ section
  • hours and conditions – in the ‘Working conditions’ section
  • real-life stories and videos of people in the job – in the ‘What’s the job really like?’ section.

Narrow down the list – keep the jobs your young person still finds interesting, and remove the others.

Step 2 example

Your young person explores information about arborist, beekeeper and winemaker.

They decide to remove beekeeper from the list because they don’t like the idea of being stung by bees. They still like the arborist and winemaker jobs.

Step 3: Find out which jobs require subjects your young person likes

Next, find out the NCEA subjects needed for each job that remains on the list. To do this, go back to the job information and explore which subjects you need to get into the job – in the 'Secondary education' section.

This gives your young person an idea of which subjects they should take next year. If their school doesn’t offer a subject they want, they may still be able study the subject through distance learning.

If no subjects are recommended, talk to a career adviser or dean at your young person’s school. They may suggest useful subjects to match your young person’s interests and ability.

Step 3 example

Your young person looks at the 'Secondary education' sections for arborist and winemaker. They say:

  • Arborist: A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include agriculture and horticulture, and biology.
  • Winemaker: A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include maths, chemistry, physics and processing technologies.

Your young person prefers maths, physics and processing technologies. They decide to take those subjects – a good base for becoming a winemaker and getting into other science and technology careers.

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Conversation tips for NCEA subject choice time

Conversation tips

A conversation guide to help your young person choose NCEA subjects.

Updated 6 Jul 2020