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NCEA and getting into training and jobs

Find out how many NCEA credits you'll need to do an apprenticeship, get a job or join the Defence Force.

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What NCEA credits do I need to get an apprenticeship?

  • Many apprenticeships don’t have any NCEA requirements.
  • Some industry training organisations (ITOs) recommend studying NCEA maths and English to at least Level 1 or 2.
  • Employers and the New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme usually require you to have studied subjects relating to the trade you want to get into.
  • It’s best to contact the relevant ITO to find out about specific NCEA requirements for the trade.

What if I don’t have NCEA Level 1?

If you want to leave school at 16 and haven’t completed NCEA Level 1, some polytechs offer introductory level courses starting at Level 1 or 2. Other names for these are entry-level, pre-trade or foundation courses.

These courses don’t guarantee an apprenticeship at the end. You still need to find an employer willing to take on an apprentice.

What NCEA credits do I need to get a job?

A young man cutting a large length of wood on a machine cutter.

No matter what industry you choose

If you want to get a job straight out of school, think about staying until you complete NCEA Level 2. With NCEA Level 2, you will have the foundation skills needed for many jobs.

When applying for jobs it is a good idea to summarise your NCEA results in your CV. You can do this by:

  • putting the results an employer would most like to see at the top of your CV
  • listing credits towards NCEA, even if you haven’t completed a full NCEA
  • listing any specialist national certificates you have achieved, or partly achieved
  • highlighting any merit or excellence achievement standards.

What if I don’t have it?

Remember, an employer is looking for the ability to learn. If you need help with basic literacy and numeracy and you have left school, Literacy Aotearoa, polytechs, private training providers, and wānanga have teachers and courses that can help you.

What NCEA credits do I need to get into the Defence Force?

Two navy engineering officers using naval ship systems.


This depends on the type of training you want to do. It is best to look on the Defence Force website for more details.

  • To get into the Defence Force you need to sit an aptitude test. Level 1 maths, English and science will help you to answer the questions.
  • To enter the NZ Army and Royal NZ Navy you need at least 10 credits in English and 10 credits in maths at Level 1. However, some roles require you to have at least 12 credits per subject.
  • To enter the Royal NZ Air Force you need at least 12 credits in English and maths at Level 1. However, some roles require you to have at least 12 credits at Level 2.
  • To become an officer in the Navy or Air Force you need at least 18 credits in English, maths, and a science at Level 2. To become an officer in the Army, you need a minimum of 50 credits at Level 2, with at least 12 credits in English.

What if I don't have NCEA?

If you have left school with no NCEA credits in English or maths at Level 1, you can do a polytech, wānanga or private training foundation literacy and numeracy course. You can also gain NCEA credits by correspondence through The Correspondence School.

Updated 28 Aug 2014