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School subject choices and your career path

The notorious subject choice dilemma

Many people your age know exactly what they want to do after school, where they will study and have had their subject choices lined up for years. But then there is the other group of teens. The ones who don’t know what they want to do, may not have the money or the grades to study further but are bright and motivated enough to build a successful career. If you fall into the second group, these common questions (and answers) may help you with some of the important decisions you need to make:

Can I change subjects if I finally decide what I want to do and I haven’t taken the right subjects?

In grade 10 and 11: you are allowed to change two subjects. The latest date to apply for a subject change is 31 July.

In grade 12: you may only request to change one subject. The school can only take this decision after consulting with the Department of Basic Education. The latest date for grade 12 learners to apply for a subject change is 30 January.

 Do the subjects I take at school really determine my career?

Your school subjects don’t have to define your career, your passion will guide you. Once you are working, you can always further your studies through your company. At that stage, you will have a better idea of what you want to do. If you really want to pursue a career that you don’t have the subjects for, you can always redo your matric, or apply to only complete the subjects you need. It’s never a dead end.

How do a I choose the right subjects if I don’t know what I want to do when I finish school?

The following prospectuses will give you a guideline of what you need to take if you are considering going to a university or a university of technology:


Universities and universities of technology prospectuses


Agricultural sciences

Mathematics, physical sciences (life sciences, geography, agricultural sciences)


Art and visual communication

Mathematics or maths literacy (design, EGD, visual art)


Performing arts

Mathematics or maths literacy (dramatic arts)


Engineering, design and the built environment

Mathematics, physical sciences (EGD, design, visual arts)


Sports careers

Mathematics or maths literacy, for sport sciences: physical sciences and/or life sciences (life sciences, business management – for sport management)


Commerce, management, banking and financial services

Mathematics (economics, business studies, accounting some of which may be required by certain institutions)



Mathematics, physical sciences (life sciences, geography)


Hospitality and tourism for consumer science

Mathematics and physical sciences, for some management courses: mathematics (tourism, hospitality studies, consumer studies, business studies)


Health sciences

Mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences


IT and computer science

Mathematics, physical sciences (in science or engineering courses in IT) (IT, CAT)



Mathematics or maths literacy plus subjects that you might want to teach



Good performance in languages, history, mathematics for business or accounting courses with law e.g. BCom Law or BAcc Law


Social sciences and theology

Good performance in languages, mathematics or maths literacy – depending on your elective modules – and history


Linguistic careers

Good performance in languages, mathematics OR maths literacy – depending on your elective modules – and history


What do I do if I really need help with choosing a career and the subjects?

Government has fully qualified career advisors who can give you career information, guidance and advice by telephone, SMS, ‘Please Call Me’, email, Facebook and Twitter. Here are all the details:

Call them: 086 999 0123

SMS or send them a PLEASE CALL ME (they will call you back): 072 204 5056

Email them:

Tweet them:

Talk to them:

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