Vocational Pathways

When you start thinking about your study options, looking for a job, and starting your career path, the six Vocational Pathways help you see how your learning and achievement is valued in the world of work.

The main industry sectors and the learning associated with these sectors has been categorised into six broad Vocational Pathways. Each pathway has been colour coded so you can recognise it easily.

These pages outline what each Vocational Pathway is about. They tell you something about the work involved in each pathway, the sorts of qualities employers are looking for, the range of jobs available, and the standards that have been recommended.

 The pathways are:

Students and whānau

rosette full


Plan your pathway

The six pathways help you start your continuous journey from learning to earning. Using the Vocational Pathways you can:

  • identify the pathways that reflect your interests and strengths
  • identify the skills and competencies valued by employers in the pathways
  • explore your job or career options
  • find out which standards employers value - within each pathway
  • build your own Vocational Profile to plan and help map your achievement
  • show how you are working towards achieving NCEA Level 2
  • plan your next steps after NCEA Level 2
  • plan your next steps beyond school.

Start your journey here

Using the Vocational Pathways

At school

Your journey starts when you begin exploring how your interests and strengths lead you to work and study in areas you enjoy and are good at.

You can ask your parents, whānau, teachers, dean, or careers adviser for support in planning your personal vocational pathway. Using the Profile Builder will help you see links between the subjects and courses you are taking, achieving an NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualification, and your pathway direction. 

While you are studying for NCEA at Level 2 and Level 3 you can explore several pathways, or study towards one pathway you are keen on. Your teachers and careers advisors can arrange work experiences in these pathways that help you make links between an employment direction and further study or industry training.

At home

The Profile Builder is a clever tool that helps you to explore your study options and plan your programme. When you have input the achievement or unit standards you are currently doing or might like to do, your parents, whānau, family and aiga can see where you’re heading and help you think about where you would like to go.

Your Vocational Profile, viewed on your NZQA Record of Achievement, is your map or plan.

This shows:

  • the standards you have achieved
  • the progress and achievement you are making in your learning, and where your strengths, interests, or abilities are being put to use
  • the direction of your vocational pathway.

☞ If you have forgotten your NSN number, ask your school, call 0800 697 296, or contact the NZQA Call Centre by filling in the form on this link

☞ If you know your NSN number and have not logged in to your NZQA Record of Achievement, you will need to register

☞ If you know your NSN number, and have registered, but have forgotten your password, fill in this form.

It’s important to achieve at least NCEA Level 2 or equivalent

NCEA Level 2 achievement shows you have developed some of the skills that are important and valued by employers.

Whether you’re interested in entry-level roles, apprenticeships, or looking to undertake tertiary study or training on the job, NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification is the minimum you will need to show you have the skills, competencies, and knowledge valued in the workplace.

Next steps after NCEA Level 2 or equivalent

Once you have NCEA Level 2, you can explore FindMyPath tool, to help you decide the next steps on your pathway.

The FindMyPath tool shows links between jobs and qualifications from Levels 3 and 4 certificates through to Levels 5, 6, and 7 diplomas and degrees. These are all aligned using the Vocational Pathways framework.

Helpful information

A Vocational Pathways Award enables employers to assess more easily whether your skills align with their industry requirements. It also helps you to see where your achievements are valued in the world of work.

There are a range of handy online tools to help you design your future career opportunities:

You can find out which standards are recommended for each sector.

To find out a bit more about the Award, tools and standards click here

Click here to find out what skills employers look for.

To visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, click here


For more information, please speak to your family, whānau, teachers and your Careers Advisor.