There are four main starting points for a career in engineering: certificates, diplomas and three- and four-year degrees. You may be able to move from one path to another, for example, if you start with a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering then generally you can do an extra year's study and get a Bachelor of Engineering Technology.
The New Zealand Diploma in Engineering, Bachelor of Engineering Technology and Bachelor of Engineering have all been accredited to international standards, so your qualification will be recognised overseas.
The key school subjects for all the engineering pathways are Maths (especially Calculus) and Physics, plus Chemistry for some specialisations within the Bachelor of Engineering. Studying Technology subjects and English is also recommended.
National Certificates in Engineering (NZQF Level 2-5) take three to four years of work-based assessments and some courses in order to qualify for work as an electrician, fabrication engineer and other engineering trades roles. Entry requirement vary, but you'll need NCEA Level 1 credits including literacy (English) and numeracy (Maths).
New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZQF Level 6) is a two-year diploma qualifying you for work in a variety of engineering jobs. Depending on what area you specialise in, you might work as a project manager, CAD draftsperson, electronics technician or design machines. You'll need 48 credits at NCEA Level 2, including 12 in each of Maths and Physics.
The Bachelor of Engineering Technology (NZQF Level 7) is a three-year degree with a strong focus on practical projects, and is offered in a range of specialisations. This qualification will open doors to a very wide range of engineering jobs. You'll need 42-60 credits at NCEA Level 3, including at least 14 in each of Maths and Physics.
The Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (NZQF Level 8) is a four-year degree that combines theoretical knowledge with project work. You can specialise in a wide range of areas. You'll need at least 60 credits at NCEA Level 3, including 14-18 in each of Maths and Physics (and Chemistry for some specialisations).
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.
Find out more about what NCEA credits you need to get at school in order to get into tertiary qualifications in engineering.
If you've left school without enough NCEA credits in Maths, Physics and/or Chemistry to get into the engineering course of your choice, most universities and polytechs offer bridging courses to help you catch up.
Earn while you learn: cadets complete a diploma, or sometimes a degree, while working as an engineering technician or CAD draftsperson.