New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Level 3)

This hands-on qualification is designed for people already working in the mechanical engineering, construction, manufacturing and fabrication industries, or for people who would like to complete a pre-trade qualification before entering these industries.

About the programme

Are you a practical kind of person who enjoys making things work? Or perhaps you are seeking an engineering apprenticeship?

Either way, this is the programme for you and is the perfect qualification for those wishing to enter the engineering trades.

Mechanical Engineering involves the design, manufacture and maintenance of machinery, equipment and tools, and roles may include a CNC Machine Operator, Machine Operator, Specialist Production Welder, Metal Worker/Fabricator, Ducting Fabricator, Pipe Fitter/Welder, Metal Polisher or a Pattern Maker Trade Assistant. The industry has experienced significant growth over recent years due to developments in engineering processes.

Due to this, there are numerous employment opportunities in areas such as toolmaking, fitting and machining, and trades associated with the heavy and light fabrication industries. With a responsible attitude, you may even step up into project management.

This hands-on, pre-apprenticeship programme will give you ample opportunity to work within our workshops and to gain valuable off-site work experience. 

Upon completion, you will have achieved the academic requirements of the first year of an industry apprenticeship. This may reduce the time for you to complete out in industry down to two years.


This programme is made up of nine compulsory modules (listed below). These are made up of a mixture of practical and theoretical components. The nine modules incorporate assessment against 27 registered NQF unit standards.

  1. Health and Safety
  2. Calculations
  3. Drawing
  4. Machining
  5. Fabrication
  6. Welding
  7. Workshop skills
  8. Process quality
  9. Communication

Off-site practical work experience is also incorporated within the programme and will comply with Otago Polytechnic health and safety requirements and requirements for contracts with employers.

Programme specific risks

You will be working with the latest industry-relevant technology, machines, pressing equipment, and chemical dyes and may also spend time working in the industry. All safety requirements will be explained in detail at the beginning of the programme. Safety shoes and safety glasses are required to be worn in all workshops at all times.

Further study options

This qualification can lead to, but is not a prerequisite for, the following qualifications (an apprenticeship within industry at Level 4 Mechanical Engineering):

  • New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Trade) (Level 4) with strands in Fitting and Machining, General Engineering, Machining, Maintenance Engineering, Metal Forming, and Toolmaking
  • New Zealand Certificate in Engineering Fabrication (Trade) (Level 4) with strands in Heavy Fabrication, Light Fabrication, and Steel Construction
Domestic students

Expand your employment potential by completing an apprenticeship and then advancing your skills with our New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering).

International students

Whilst you cannot enter an apprenticeship within New Zealand, you do have the option of progressing into our New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) to enhance your knowledge and skills. 

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, 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, and 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.