From university degrees to cadetships and diploma-level study, there are so many ways to begin your journey as an engineer. Explore which option might suit you best.

 If you don’t have enough credit hours for a particular level of study, research tertiary providers for qualifications and bridging programmes that may be able to help you out.

For further information on engineering career opportunities, visit the Careers NZ website.

New Zealand Diploma in Engineering

Why a Diploma?

For students who want to progress quickly into civil, electrical and mechanical engineering work, Diploma-level study is a great option. It can also be used as a great foundation for progression to further degrees in engineering and engineering technology.

Eligibility and where to study 

Students who have achieved at least 48 credits in maths, science and technology subjects at NCEA Level 2, including at least 12 credits in Maths, are eligible to pursue a Diploma in engineering. Polytechnics and Institutes of Technology (NZDE) as well as Industry Training Organisations (NZDEP) offer this qualification. 

Employment opportunities 

The New Zealand Diploma provides a structured pathway for technician- level engineers that combines applied academic learning with work-based assessment of practical skills. This pathway is strongly aligned with industry needs and graduates should be highly employable. Potential specialisations/majors and future jobs include engineering consultancy, maintenance or asset management, design, manufacturing, installation, production engineering, technical sales and customer service, draughting services, construction or contracting. 

Learn more about the NZDE Level 6 and where you can study

Bachelor of Engineering Technology 

Why a Bachelor of Engineering Technology?

This three-year degree is designed to develop a wide set of skills that can be used in a career as an engineering technologist. Graduates will be prepared for progression to a professional engineering degree or postgraduate study in their chosen field.

Eligibility and where to study 

You can be eligible if you’ve achieved University Entrance and have accumulated 48 credits at NCEA Level 3 in maths, science and technology subjects, including at least 14 credits in each of physics and mathematics with calculus. This degree is available at Polytechnics, Institutes of Technology and Universities. 

Employment opportunities 

A degree in engineering technology is a fast track to a rewarding and challenging career as engineering technologists are in huge demand in New Zealand and overseas. Civil, electrical, mechanical, electronic, computer, computer & mobile systems, network & communications, and computer network engineering are all specialisations and possible career paths available with this degree. 

Find out more about the BEngTech and where to study

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Why a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) [BE(Hons)]?

This four-year honours degree is the standard qualification leading to work as a professional engineer. In addition to academic course work, about 800 hours must be spent working in an engineering environment. These hours of practical work experience are usually completed during summer breaks from lectures. 

Professional engineers take responsibility for complex engineering activities in a broad range of technical areas. They work with clients to define the project concepts, provide specialist knowledge and manage the overall project. 

Eligibility and where to study 

Generally, University Entrance and a minimum of 60 credits in maths, science and technology subjects at NCEA Level 3, including 16 credits each in physics and mathematics with calculus are required to pursue this degree. For some programmes, 16 Level 3 credits in Chemistry are required. This degree is offered by most universities. 

Employment opportunities 

Engineering graduates are employed in both the public and private sectors, in design, research and development, technical sales, management, marketing, education and consultancy work. With this degree, you can major in a variety of specialisations, including Biomedical, chemical and process, civil, computer systems, electrical, electronic, environmental, forest, mechanical, mechatronics, natural resources, network and communications, product development, and software engineering. 

Find out more about the BEng(Honours) and where to study


What is a cadetship? 

While they study and earn a degree, cadets are also working in their desired field, gaining hands-on experience in the real world. It’s a great chance to see if a career is right for you or not, and also gives you the opportunity to build your network and get to know the industry. Every company’s cadetship programme is a bit different, but some of them even include help with study costs and flexible working hours. 

Cadetship programmes are a good way to secure quality workers, so once cadets have finished their qualification they are likely to be offered a higher level, full-time position within the company. Sometimes, cadets may be bonded (obliged to work for the sponsoring company) for 1-2 years after graduating. 

Entry requirements for tertiary courses vary but generally you’ll need 40-60 credits at NCEA Level 2 in maths, science and technology subjects. 

How do I find one? 

Your best bet is to look on job search websites and have a chat with the careers advisor at your school. You should also reach out to polytechnics or universities that offer the qualification you’re interested in, as they might have relationships with employers that are offering support for your study. 

Companies and organisations that offer cadet programmes can include engineering and construction firms like AECOM, Aurecon, Beca, Downer, Fulton Hogan, Higgins, MWH and WSP Opus, as well as utility companies like Powerco and software companies like Fronde. The New Zealand Defence Forces and local authorities at the city, district and regional council level may also offer programmes. 

Helpful Tip! 

If you’re interested in a cadetship, do some quick research on industry organisations in your area and reach out to a human resources rep for more information. Sites like LinkedIn can also be helpful to narrow your search for the right person to talk to.