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How to choose the right subject or course

Choosing subjects and courses is a big decision which can affect your future career.

You may be choosing subjects in school or looking at college and university courses. You may be thinking about learning to get you to the next step in your career or to develop your skills.

Choosing the right subjects and courses can help you get into a career or keep your options open if you are not sure.

Important questions to ask

1. Which subjects do I enjoy?

Think about the subjects you most enjoy. You are more likely to get better grades in the subjects you enjoy. Think about the grades you usually get in your subjects and speak to your teachers and tutors to see what they think you're aiming to achieve.

2. How do I like to learn?

We all learn differently. Did you know there are 3 learning styles:

  1. Visual (learn best by seeing things)
  2. Auditory (learn best by hearing things)
  3. Kinaesthetic (learn best by doing things)

You may learn in a combination of ways. Knowing how you learn can help you choose the right subject or course:

  • Do you prefer listening, talking and writing? Then maybe an academic course would suit you
  • Or, are you more ‘hands-on’ and prefer to learn by doing? Then a vocational qualification or Apprenticeship could be for you

3. Which subject for which career?

Fact: The subject or course you choose can affect your career options.

So, it’s important to know what subject, course, qualification level and grades you need for certain jobs.

Did you know?

  • Some careers require you to have a specialist qualification and certain subjects and grades to get onto those courses for example Nursing and Dentistry.
  • Many careers and higher level courses require you to have specific subjects and grades.

4. Do I need English/Welsh, Maths and Science?

These are the subjects most needed for careers, courses and by employers. More and more jobs, apprenticeships and courses ask for these subjects at GCSE C or even B grade. For example, to complete your teacher training in Wales, you will need Maths and in either English language or Welsh language GCSE C Grade. Find out about Qualifications.

Find the courses or subjects that lead to your future career. Take a look at:

  • Job Information - look at the subjects and qualifications you need to get for certain jobs
  • Course Search - Search for courses and entry requirements
  • UCAS - check the entry requirements for Higher Education courses you might be interested in

5. What subjects will jobs in the future need?

The world of work is always changing, with new jobs being created all the time.

Take a look at Future Jobs Wales and Future of Work Wales to find out what the demand could be for some jobs in the future.

The first 6 steps to take

Check it out

Find out as much as you can about courses and subjects available and where you would prefer to study. You should:

  • Find out what courses you can study in colleges and training providers near you using Course Search
  • Attend open days or research the school, college or university website
  • Check the content of the course. What will you be learning and how will you learn?
  • Ask tutors and teachers. Ask other students
  • Think about any additional learning needs you have. Speak to student services about the support they can offer
  • Make a shortlist
Entry requirements

Some jobs will ask for specific subjects and qualifications so you'll need to be aware of what you need to be studying if you have a career idea in mind. Look at Job Information to see what subjects and grades are required for different job roles.

Think about career ideas

Got a career in mind? Check what subjects and grades are needed in Job Information. Explore the Industry leaflets to find out about the different industries in Wales.

Unsure of your career ideas? Try our Career Match Quiz. The quiz will match your skills and interests to different jobs and help you to explore where subjects can take you.

Financing your course

Learning is not always free once you leave school or college. Take a look at what funding is available and what support you may be able to get on Funding your studies.

Keep up to date with the loans and grants available to students on Student Finance Wales.

List the pros and cons

Sometimes the easiest way to come to a decision is to write a list of the pros and cons for each of your options. Think about the:

  • Positives about each option
  • Negatives about each option
  • What each option could lead to

Go through your list and think about how important each point is to you. By the end you’ll have a better idea of what’s important to you and which option is best.

Read more on how to make good career decisions.

It's good to talk

Talk to family, friends, tutors and teachers about your choices. Talking it through can help you make this big decision. They will be able to give you a different perspective and offer you ideas you may not have thought of before.

Contact Careers Wales to speak to a careers adviser about your options.

Explore your career ideas

Find a course

Find out more

Choosing a course at 18

Get help to decide which course is right for you. Consider the pros and cons, funding, entry requirements and more...

Find out about qualifications

Understand qualification levels and why they matter. Learn about qualifications, including NVQs, GCSEs, BTECs, A levels, degrees and HNDs.