New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Road Transport (Heavy Vehicle Operator) (Level 3)

Gain your heavy vehicle license and develop skills beyond the required standard for a heavy vehicle license holder. Study either full-time on campus over a period of 28 weeks or part-time alongside employment over a period of 48 weeks.

About the programme

Become a fully-competent and highly capable heavy vehicle licence holder. 

This hands-on programme will ensure you gain the practical skills and theoretical knowledge beyond the required standard for those of a heavy vehicle licence holder. Graduate with the ability to join the road transport industry in a range of employment contexts as a heavy rigid vehicle or heavy combination vehicle operator. 

There are two different study options for this programme. You can either study full-time over a period of 28 weeks or study part-time alongside employment over a period of 48 weeks.

For the part-time option, learners will be required to attend the block courses throughout the delivery period. After each block course, you will then carry out the practical application of the theory in your workplace (under the supervision of your employer/manager) and will build a record over time of your workplace activities.

Otago Polytechnic teachers will support your workplace learning through workplace visits and supervising assessments, as well as maintaining regular communication with you. 


The programme consists of five compulsory courses all at Level 3.  

Course Description Credits
Introductory Skills
  • Ensure you can comply with commercial road transport rules and regulations and manage their driving performance to ensure the safety of self and others.
  • Apply risk reduction techniques and strategies while day and night driving.
  • Explain the symptoms and management of health factors relating to driving performance.
  • Operate a heavy vehicle in a safe and legal manner.
  • Manage and perform driver responsibilities and obligations for work time, driver fatigue and logbook requirements.
Industry skills
  • Apply basic industry skills as they navigate their legal responsibilities as heavy vehicle operators.
  • Complete the documentation required to comply with the legal requirements for transporting goods by road.
  • Conduct risk assessment and apply hazard identification procedures in relation to industry requirements.
  • Identify and document the legal and safety requirements for the operation of a heavy motor vehicle for the transportation of goods by road.
  • Perform driving manoeuvres in a safe manner.
  • Explain the effects of dynamics on a heavy vehicle. 
Vehicle Technology
  • Gain an understanding of the range of technological innovations and how these are used on a heavy combination or rigid vehicle.
  • Describe a range of innovations and technologies that apply to heavy vehicles.
  • Demonstrate the use of a range of technology systems used on heavy vehicles.
  • Apply knowledge of heavy vehicle mechanical and electrical principles and systems to safely carry out essential checks. 
Professional Operator Skills
  • Demonstrate professional behaviour and skills and apply these in work placement contexts.
  • Describe and apply principles, regulations and industry standards for loading and unloading heavy vehicles.
  • Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills for commercial road transport drivers.
  • Apply professional skills as a heavy vehicle operator in a range of industry contexts. 
Specialist Driving Skills
  • Learn how to carry out appropriate safety checks and safely operate a heavy vehicle.
  • Meet the specialist standards required in the road transport industry.
  • Safely carry out essential checks on heavy vehicles.
  • Explain and demonstrate safe and fuel efficient driving skills required for a heavy vehicle.
  • Operate a heavy vehicle over 18,000kgs in a safe and legal manner. 

When you successfully complete it, you'll be able to:

  • Comply with the commercial road transport regulatory environment and health and safety obligations as a heavy vehicle operator to ensure the safety of themselves, their vehicle, other road users, and the public.
  • Demonstrate safe and fuel efficient driving skills and expertise, and perform driving manoeuvres and tasks for a heavy rigid vehicle or heavy vehicle combination.
  • Complete comprehensive route planning as a heavy vehicle operator using appropriate navigation technology, ensuring regulatory obligations are met and public safety is protected.
  • Communicate effectively with customers, clients, and colleagues as a heavy vehicle operator.
  • Apply knowledge of heavy vehicle mechanical and electronic principles and systems, such as vehicle technology, types, and combinations, to transport freight and safely carry out essential checks.
  • Apply knowledge of loading, restraint, and unloading principles and procedures to work as a heavy vehicle operator. 

Work experience

When in the workplace, you'll carry out tasks and activities related to customer service and communication, load and unload, preparing transport documentation, heavy vehicle technology, and safe and fuel-efficient driving. 

A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.