New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Pre-Trade (Level 3)

If you want to become an electrician, this is the ideal pre-apprenticeship preparation. It will give you the knowledge and basic practical skills you need to enter the profession as a first-year apprentice.

About the programme

Want to become an electrician or enter other non-registration areas of the electrical industry?

With awesome workshop facilities, hands-on learning and highly experienced lecturers with strong industry connections, this programme is the ideal preparation for your apprenticeship.

It will give you the knowledge and skills to enter the industry as a first-year apprentice or it can help you start your career in non-registration areas such as electronic security, appliance servicing and automation. There is the chance for progression and promotion in these areas with further study and/or industry exams.

When you finish, you could enter an apprenticeship agreement with us and an employer so you can complete the Level 4 apprenticeship programme. This will give you the skills you need to work independently as an electrician. 

Are you a Māori or Pasifika person aged 16-40? 

We also offer a free version of this programme called He Toki. 

He Toki supports whānau to gain skills and qualifications, connect with iwi and explore industry opportunities, with the goal of securing wealth-enriching futures for Māori and Pasifika. 

With He Toki, you'll be supported to gain a New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Pre-Trade (Level 3) via a unique and empowering learning experience that has te reo, tikaka and mentorship at the heart of everything.

Find out more and apply here

Studying part-time

We know full-time study isn’t always possible. We also offer this programme part-time over two years.


This programme of study has been developed in direct response to feedback from the electrical engineering industry and community. So, you know you’re being taught the most up-to-date knowledge and in demand skills. 

You’ll need to study all of the courses listed below to successfully complete this programme. Graduates will be able to apply their skills under supervision by a licenced electrical worker, in accordance with the Electricity Act 1992 (and any subsequent amendments).

Course name Description Credits
Electrical Workplace Practices  Learn how to keep yourself and others safe by identifying workplace hazards and managing them. Achieve your first aid certificate and gain the skills to practice with professionalism in an electrical context. 15
DC Fundamentals Learn and apply important theories and principles of Direct Current (DC) circuits and systems. Discover the formulas, language, ideas and techniques required to build an electrical career, while undertaking practical training to apply these in real life. 15
AC Fundamentals Understand the principles of magnetism and electromagnetism in Alternating Current (AC) theory and learn how to apply them in an electrical workplace, including the safe use of tools and equipment. 15
Cables, Fittings and Testing Learn how to install, test and diagnose problems with electrical cords, cables, and equipment. You’ll gain understanding of a wide variety of electrical fittings and their applications, and the legal requirements for testing them safely. 15
Supply Systems Build your knowledge of the New Zealand electricity supply system and learn how to work safely in high-voltage environments. Understand and apply the methods used to ensure the protection of users and installers. 15
Protection, Plans and Circuits Learn how to design and construct power-switching circuits, use electrical drawing conventions to communicate your designs, and apply the principles and installation requirements of lighting systems. 15
Electrical Installations Develop and apply your knowledge of cable and wiring systems commonly used in the electrical trade, including in damp situations. 15
Electrical Machines, Transformers and Isolation Learn the key theories underpinning the operation of transformers, electrical machines, and isolation procedures, and how to apply them in real-life situations. 15
Final Capstone Test Complete a final examination to demonstrate your knowledge of the theories and practices of electrical work in order to continue on your journey towards an electrical career. 1


Further study options

When you finish this programme, you could enter an apprenticeship agreement with us and an employer so you can complete our Level 4 apprenticeship programme. This is called the New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory and Practice (Trade) (Level 4).

Alternatively, you could seek out higher-level qualifications in other electrical fields.


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.