Otago Polytechnic

Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3)

Do you enjoy working with tools and learning what makes things tick?

Turn that hobby into a career and get paid for doing what you enjoy! With your keen attitude and an eye for detail, a job in the Automotive industry could be the thing for you. People who work in the Automotive industry repair, maintain, modify and sell vehicles and vehicle parts. Some professionals specialise in working with one type of vehicle, product or service. Employment opportunities for engineers and mechanics are constantly increasing as the number of vehicles on the road continues to grow.

Designed to provide a good range of practical knowledge, gain the fundamental servicing, electrical, engineering and welding skills required for working in an automotive industry during this programme. You will have ample opportunity for hands-on learning within the Otago Polytechnic workshop and will also undertake off-site work experience to obtain a better understanding of the industry.

Please note: From 2018, this programme name will change to the New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3)*. This is due to a national review of qualifications that is being carried out by NZQA across all New Zealand tertiary institutions.

Entry requirements
  • There are no academic entry requirements, but it is an advantage to hold the Level 1 National Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Foundation Skills).
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they have an acceptable level of secondary school achievement.
  • If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5, with no band score less than 5.0. 
Skills required
  • The ability to work with tools and equipment
  • Sound communication and people skills
  • Alertness and adaptability
  • Good hand-eye coordination 
  • Good memory
  • Flexibility to change.
Youth Guarantee Scheme information

If you are a 16-19 year old and feel that school didn’t work out for you, you may be able to study this programme via our Youth Guarantee Scheme and pay no fees. This also applies if you are going to be 15 years old at the time that this programme starts and you have an early exemption from school.

To be eligible for Youth Guarantee funding, you must:

  • Be a domestic student between 16-19 years old
  • OR be 15 years of age at the time when you commence the programme AND have an early leaving exemption from your school
  • Not already hold a Level 3 qualification in any subject
  • Have been thinking about leaving school and getting a job OR prefer to be working towards a career rather than staying at school OR have left school and are not sure how to enter higher education or employment
  • Want to learn practical skills
  • Be more motivated in a non-school setting and be prepared to enrol in a full-time programme.

Fees and allowances

The Youth Guarantee Scheme will cover tuition fees, material and equipment costs of your programme of study. 18-19 year olds enrolled in fees-free Youth Guarantee qualifications will now be able to access the course-related costs part of the student loan and student allowances if they meet the eligibility criteria. Those under 18 years old will not be able to access any part of the student loans. Funding for travel is available, conditions apply. Please visit the Studylink website for full details. We strongly recommend that you read this carefully prior to applying for this programme.

The process

  • There is not a separate Youth Guarantee application form. Please apply for this programme by using our standard Otago Polytechnic application form. To apply online, or to download a paper version, click the apply button at the top right hand corner of this page.
  • If you meet the criteria for Youth Guarantee funding you will be offered the funding if it is available. We will ask you to let us know within two weeks if you do not wish to take up the funding.  
  • If there is no Youth Guarantee funding available, we will send you a letter advising you of this. Along with this letter, you will receive an invoice, terms and conditions, a Studylink brochure and an equipment list advising what you will need to purchase before starting your programme.  
Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identity, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and curriculum vitae.

Additional costs

You need to buy all of your textbooks, stationery, tools, safety equipment and clothing before the programme starts. However, please do not buy anything until you have been offered a place on the programme and have accepted that place. You will only need your writing materials on the first day so please only bring these along.


  • Ed May & Less Simpson - Automotive Mechanics Volumes 1 and 2 (8th edition) - these can be purchased at the University Book shop (approximately $245 for the set of two books).


  • 1 x A4 lever arch file
  • 1 x 5 tab subject dividers 
  • 1 x calculator
  • Pens/pencils/eraser etc. 
  • 8 GB flash drive


  • 1 x Powerbuilt tool kit #KBT2765 - available from Saeco WIlson (approximately $207).

Safety equipment and clothing:

  • Approved safety footwear (i.e. steel caps) 
  • Two pairs of overalls (long sleeved, 100% cotton, zip, TWZ overall grey/black) 
  • Two pairs of work trousers (black, work cotton)
  • Two work shirts will be supplied by Otago Polytechnic for the duration of the programme.

All clothing and equipment can be purchased at: 

Road Materials
4-6 Forth Street

Otago Polytechnic will provide embroided patches for your overalls that will be sewn on by Road Materials. Overalls will then be sent through to Otago Polytechnic to be available for you on your first day.

Further study options

Expand your employment potential by completing your apprenticeship through the MITO Training programme.

Programme specific risks

In the Otago Polytechnic automotive engineering workshop and during your work experience, there is the risk of injury through lifting, welding, welding flashes, the use of tools, motor vehicles, fixed and portable motors, heavy equipment and any other equipment relevant to the automotive industry. There is also the hazard posed by fumes from welding and chemicals which you may be allergic to and the possibility of Occupational Overuse Syndrome through computer use.

You will study

Learn how to carry out basic automotive engine servicing, service a four stroke spark ignition engine, carry out basic automotive underbody service procedures and repair light vehicle hydraulic braking systems. Gain the fundamental electrical knowledge and servicing skills required for working with ignition systems, automotive electrical circuits, electronic fuel injection systems and automotive wiring and lighting systems and discover the engineering and welding skills required for working in the automotive industry. 

Your workload

You will be expected to complete up to 30 hours of contact time at Otago Polytechnic and up to 15 hours of additional self-directed study per week; with an additional 100 hours of work experience will be required for completing as part of the programme. Usual timetable hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm, with either a Thursday or Friday on work experience. 

Qualification structure

To be awarded the Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3) you must successfully complete 120 credits with a minimum of 40 credits at Level 3. 


Course Title


OP Credit


Administration and Communication




Engine Servicing 1 Course




Underbody Service 1




Vehicle Electrics 1




Workshop Safety




Workshop Engineering Course




Vehicle Electrics 2




Engine Servicing 2




Underbody Service 2




Vehicle Electrics 3




Vehicle Electrics 4



Programme Totals





Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

Links to useful websites

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.