How to pick NCEA subjects for future success

A father and son look at information on a laptop

Help your young person choose the best NCEA subjects.

Choosing the right NCEA subjects will give your young person the best chance of getting a job they’ll love and succeed.

The idea is to find jobs that have a good outlook and need the subjects your young person is good at. 

Step 1: Use our tools to find jobs your young person may enjoy

Find out which jobs your young person may like by using our easy tools Career Quest and Subject Matcher.

These tools suggest jobs they may enjoy, and give information about each job such as:

  • recommended secondary school subjects
  • how good the opportunities are 
  • pay rates.

You can also 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 1 example – Use Subject Matcher

Your young person uses Subject Matcher and chooses Agriculture and Horticulture.

This category shows 33 job suggestions.

Step 2: Narrow down their choices by learning more about each job

Explore more about each job on your young person’s list by looking at:

  • the job description
  • 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 and just keep the jobs your young person still finds interesting.

Step 2 example  – Narrow down the list 

Your young person looks at the Agriculture and Horticulture suggestions.

They realise they don't want to work with animals so they discard those types of jobs.

They explore the job profiles for 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.
  • Winemakers make wine from grapes and other fruit.

They decide to remove beekeeper from their list as they don’t like the idea of beestings.

They still like the arborist and winemaker jobs.

Step 3: Check the opportunities for the jobs they like

Check the opportunities section of each job.

Step 3 example – Check the job opportunities

For both remaining jobs, they check the job opportunities section and find out:

  • chances of getting a job as an arborist are good due to high demand for their services and a shortage of trainees
  • chances of getting a job as a winemaker are average but the industry is growing.

They decide to focus on arborist because the chances of getting a job are better. 

Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic job opportunities could change.

Step 4: Check the subjects for the job they want to focus on

Look at the 'Secondary education' section for the job they like. 

Step 4 example – See which subjects match the job

The 'Secondary education' sections for arborist says:

  • A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include agriculture and horticulture, and biology.

Step 5: Choose the subjects that suit the job they've chosen

If there are subjects your young person prefers that suit the job they like, then choose those.

Step 5 example – Choose subjects 

Your young person decides to take agriculture and horticulture and biology. They're a good base for becoming an arborist.

Related article

Conversation tips for NCEA subject choice time

Conversation tips

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

Updated 23 Jun 2022