Qualifications for a digital/IT career

There are many different tertiary qualification options for starting a career in a digital/information technology.

The right option for you depends on what you’ve achieved at school, what sort of role you want, and how long a course you're prepared to do.

The key school subject for digital pathways is Maths, especially Calculus, and you'll need Physics for computer and software engineering pathways. Technology subjects and English are also recommended.

Diplomas in Information Technology

Diplomas in Information Technology (Level 5-6) are entry-level qualifications for work in the IT industry, generally taking one or two years' study to complete. Typically these diplomas are aligned to industry requirements, so you'll be qualified for work as a helpdesk operator, computer technician or entry-level work as a programmer or web developer.

A certificate or diploma in Information Technology is different to qualifications in Computing, which are typically help people to be better computer users.

Degrees in Information Technology

A degree in Information Technology/Systems or Computer Systems is a three-year, broad-based Level 7 qualification that provides industry-aligned skills in programming, computer networks, operating systems and databases. You'll need NCEA Level 3, University Entrance or (at some providers) 60-75 Level 2 credits including Maths and English.

Degrees in Computer Science

A degree in Computer Science (Level 7) is the most science- and maths-oriented option for getting into the digital/IT industry. Most people study Computer Science as a major within the three-year Bachelor of Science degree, although some universities offer a specialist degree. You'll need University Entrance and generallly NCEA Level 3 credits in Maths or Calculus.

Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Computer Systems

The Bachelor of Engineering Technology is a three-year, Level 7 degree with specialisms in digital/IT-relevant areas such as Computer & Mobile Sytems Engineering, Network & Communications Engineering, and Electronic Engineering. You'll need 42-60 credits at NCEA Level 2, including at least 14 in each of Calculus and Physics.

Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Systems

The Bachelor of Engineering is a four-year, Level 8 degree with specialisms in Computer Systems, Network and Electronic Engineering that could lead to work in industries such as telecommunications, research & development and air traffic control. Entry into the degree requires 60 credits at NCEA Level 3, including 14-18 in each of Maths and Physics.

Bachelor of Engineering in Software Engineering

A Bachelor of Engineering specialising in Software Engineering qualifies you for work as a software developer/engineer in a wide range of industries from entertainment to healthcare and telecommunications. Entry into this four-year, Level 8 degree requires 60 credits at NCEA Level 3, including 14-18 in each of Maths and Physics.

Qualifications Pathway Diagram

You can also use this diagram to get an overview of the four engineering qualifications and how they fit together, but it's best viewed on a tablet or full size screen.

Entry requirements for software and computer engineering

Find out more about what NCEA credits you need to get at school in order to get into tertiary qualifications in engineering.

Bridging Courses

If you've left school without enough NCEA credits in Maths, Physics and/or Chemistry to get into the software or computer engineering course of your choice, most universities and polytechs offer bridging courses to help you catch up.

Futureintech is an initiative of Engineering New Zealand, funded by Callaghan Innovation