Tertiary education and training options

As your child gets to senior secondary school your attention will turn to what they want to do after school, and what their education, training and career options are.

Education after secondary school isn't limited to universities and institutes of technology or polytechnics. There's a wide range of opportunities that includes tertiary study, vocational training, apprenticeships and on the job training.

What are the education options after secondary school?

There are options for more study, getting prepared for work, on-the-job training and more.

Higher level education

This includes studying for diplomas, degrees, graduate and postgraduate qualifications, research, and vocational study such as nursing, law, engineering or teacher education. Higher level study is usually done in universities, institutes of technology, polytechnics, wānanga and Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

Different types of tertiary provider

Tertiary Education – NZQA website(external link)

Youth programmes

Youth programmes help young people make the move from school to more study or a career. Here's some examples of youth programmes:

Youth Guarantee helps 16- and 17-year-olds by giving them more choices and ways to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent so that they are then able to move onto further study or career. The range of programmes includes Vocational Pathways, Secondary-Tertiary Programmes (including Trade Academies), Service Academies and fees-free places at tertiary providers.

Find out more about the programmes and how you can get involved Youth Guarantee website.(external link)

Youth Guarantee website(external link)

New Zealand Apprenticeships provide high quality, on-the-job training towards national qualifications. 

New Zealand Apprenticeships – Careers NZ(external link)

How to apply for apprenticeships – Careers NZ(external link)

Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund

The Gateway programme helps students in Years 11 - 13 progress from school to workplace learning in a range of industries and business around New Zealand, while they continue to study at school.

Gateway funding – Tertiary Education Commission(external link)

Gateway – Youth Guarantee website(external link)

Industry training

Industry training is learning and skill development linked to the needs of workers, workplaces and industry, from traditional trades like building and plumbing, the primary industries, and manufacturing and retail, through to government and community services. It provides employees with structured training, both on-job and off-job, so employees can earn while they learn.

Industry training is coordinated by Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) around New Zealand.

Accredited ITOs – NZQA(external link)

Industry Training Organisations – NZQA(external link)

Help deciding what to do after secondary school

There's a lot to think about when you leave school and move on to further study or a career. Here are some websites and resources that can help you make good choices.

Careers NZ

The Careers NZ website has some useful tools to help you decide about your next steps after secondary school. You can also call them toll free on 0800 222 733(external link).

Careers NZ website(external link)

Careers NZ interactive tools(external link) 

Careers NZ Education and Training Database(external link)

Vocational Pathways

The Vocational Pathways tool (part of the Youth Guarantees initiative) can help you plan your career and study options and show you how to get where you want to go.

Start your Vocational Pathways journey – Youth Guarantee(external link)

What are the tertiary qualification levels?

There are 10 tertiary qualification levels in New Zealand, each based on the complexity of learning as follows:

  • Levels 1–3 are similar to senior secondary education (eg. NCEA) and basic trades training.
  • Levels 4–6 are for advanced trades, technical and business qualifications.
  • Levels 7–10 are for advanced qualifications of graduate and postgraduate standard.

How much does it cost?

The cost of further education depends entirely on where you study and what courses you take. Most tertiary education in New Zealand is subsidised by the government, but most students will have to pay some fees and all the course related costs. If they're studying away from home there will be living costs as well.

Student Allowance and Student Loan Schemes


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