Six Career Choices After Grade 12 in South Africa

career choices after grade 12

The decision of what to do after completing grade 12 is one of the most critical ones that young people in South Africa have to make. The choice that they make can have a significant impact on their future and can determine their entire career path. In this article, we will explore various career choices that students can pursue after completing grade 12 in South Africa.

Tertiary Education

Tertiary education is one of the most popular options for students after completing grade 12 in South Africa. Students can choose from a wide range of courses offered at universities, colleges, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

Universities in South Africa offer a range of courses, including law, engineering, medicine, humanities, and social sciences. These courses usually take three to four years to complete. University education can be costly, but there are many bursaries and scholarships available to students who cannot afford to pay for their studies.

TVET colleges offer courses that are geared towards providing students with the practical skills they need to enter the job market. These courses include plumbing, electrical engineering, hairdressing, and hospitality. TVET courses usually take two to three years to complete and are more affordable than university courses.


Apprenticeships are another option for students who have completed grade 12. Apprenticeships are work-based training programs that provide students with practical experience and theoretical knowledge in a specific trade or occupation. Apprenticeships are usually offered by companies in industries such as construction, mining, and engineering.

Apprenticeships can take anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on the trade or occupation. During this time, students will work alongside experienced tradespeople and receive training in both practical and theoretical aspects of their chosen trade or occupation.


Entrepreneurship is an option for students who have completed grade 12 and have a business idea. Starting a business can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Students who choose to start their own business will need to be willing to take risks, work hard, and be committed to their business idea.

Starting a business requires a lot of planning and preparation. Students who are interested in starting their own business should research their market, develop a business plan, and seek advice from business professionals and mentors.


Volunteering is an option for students who want to gain practical experience and make a difference in their community. Volunteering can help students develop skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are highly valued by employers.

Volunteering opportunities are available in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, education, and community development. Students can volunteer for a few hours a week or for longer periods, depending on their availability.


Travel is an option for students who want to take a gap year and explore the world. Traveling can be a great way to gain new experiences, learn about different cultures, and develop new skills. Students can travel independently or join organized tours or volunteer programs.

Traveling can be expensive, but there are ways to save money, such as staying in hostels or working as a volunteer in exchange for accommodation and meals.

Military Service

A military service is an option for students who want to serve their country and gain valuable skills and experience. Military service can provide students with training in areas such as leadership, teamwork, and discipline, which are highly valued by employers.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) offers various opportunities for students who want to join the military. These opportunities include training as soldiers, pilots, and technicians.


The decision of what to do after completing grade 12 is an important one, and students should consider all their options carefully. Tertiary education, apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, volunteering, travel, or military service can be your choices. It is important to take the time to research different options, consider personal interests and skills, and weigh the potential job opportunities and earning potential. Many different paths can lead to a successful and fulfilling career, whether it be through further education, vocational training, or gaining work experience in a particular field.

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