SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: Construction Plant Operator 
117005  Occupational Certificate: Construction Plant Operator 
Development Quality Partner - CETA 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 12 - Physical Planning and Construction  Civil Engineering Construction 
Undefined  138  Not Applicable  NQF Level 02  Regular-ELOAC 
Registered  EXCO 04171/20  2020-05-28  2025-05-28 
2026-05-28   2029-05-28  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification replaces: 
Qual ID Qualification Title Pre-2009 NQF Level NQF Level Min Credits Replacement Status
48940  National Certificate: Construction: Plant Operations  Level 2  NQF Level 02  133  Complete 


The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a Construction Plant Operator. A Construction Plant Operator operates surface construction plant and equipment in various construction sectors. A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Prepare equipment for operation.
  • Operate the equipment safely and efficiently according to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications.
  • Communicate and report operational performance.


    This qualification is important to address the skills of the current and future employees serving the construction industry. The industry will draw the learners from the numbers of current unemployed youth and provide them with a standardised qualification that will assist them in securing employment. The construction industry requires the realignment of the previously registered qualification. The construction industry plays a significant part in the reduction of unemployment in the economy. However, for the construction industry to be effective, a skilled workforce is critical. This qualification and in particular the part-qualifications, will enhance employment opportunities and mobility for qualified employees and improve opportunities for self-employment.

    The construction industry will base the progression of employees on their certification after achieving the qualification. There are opportunities for qualifying learners to progress horizontally to Diesel Bowser Operator, Sideboom Operator or Water Cart Operator and vertically to Construction Plant Supervisor (NQF Level3), Earthwork and Layer Works Hand (NQF Level 3) and Road Drainage Hand (NQF Level 3).

    Different proficiencies were identified that are recognised by the construction industry that allow for employment opportunities. These proficiencies are captured in the following part-qualifications:
  • Occupational Certificate: Diesel Bowser Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Continuous Bucket Trencher Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Sideboom Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Water Cart Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Hot Mix Asphalt Paving Machine Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Face shovel Operator, Surface Grader Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Tractor Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Bitumen Spray Equipment Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Paving Screed Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Surface Roller Operator;
  • Occupational Certificate: Dozer Operator; Service Truck Operator; and
  • Occupational Certificate: Surface Tracked Dozer. 

    Entry Requirements:
    NQF Level 1 qualification with mathematics.

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):

    RPL for Access to the External Integrated Summative Assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of results or by certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for Access to the Qualification:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements. 


    This qualification consists of the following compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skill and Work Experience Modules:

    Knowledge Modules:
  • 734201-000-00 KM-01, Workplace Fundamentals, Level 2, 10 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 KM-02, Operations and Machines, Level 2, 7 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 KM-03, Information Technology for Construction Environment, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 KM-04, Principles of Construction and Construction Environment, Level 2, 5 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 27

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 734201-000-00 PM-01, Establish and Prepare the Work Area, Level 2, 3 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-02, Operate a Diesel Bowser, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00PM-03., Operate a Grader, Level 2, 10 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-04, Operate a Hot Mix Asphalt Paving Machine, Level 2, 8 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-05, Operate a Surface Soil Stabiliser and Milling Machine, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-06, Operate a Surface Paving Machine, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-07, Operate a Surface Roller, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-08, Operate a Surface Sideboom, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-09, Operate a Surface Tracked Dozer, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-10, Operate a Tractor, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-11, Operate Bitumen Spray Equipment, Level 2, 7 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-12, Operate Continuous Bucket Trencher, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-13, Operate a Surface Face Shovel, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-14, Operate Water Cart, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00 PM-15, Operate Wheeled Dozer, Level 2, 5 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 83

    Work Experience Modules:
  • 734201-000-00WM-01, Participate in the Daily Start-up Planning Meeting, Level 2, 3 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00WM-02, Identification and Hazards Removal (HIRA) Processes from Construction Worksite, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00WM-03, Conduct Plant Operational Inspection, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00WM-04, Procedures for Operation of Earth Moving Equipment, Level 2, 10 Credits.
  • 734201-000-00WM-05, Equipment Performance Reporting Procedures, Level 2, 5 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 28 

    1. Prepare equipment for construction operations.
    2. Operate, monitor and report performance of different types of construction plant to execute different construction functions and operations safely and effectively. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Know and follow procedures for the identification of emergencies promptly and correctly.
  • Measure and record team activity production outputs.
  • Establish and review productivity targets in conjunction with line management.
  • Identify and implement measures to improve productivity timeously and in accordance with the activity report.
  • Implement a productivity improvement cycle in consultation with line management.
  • Implement process control testing procedures.
  • Apply specifications in the method of all work activities.
  • Perform resource procurement according to specifications.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of construction activities on the environment.
  • Explain the benefits and importance of environmentally orientated construction activities.
  • Describe the processes which employer organisations use to support ethical conduct in the workplace in accordance with standard industry practices.
  • Explain different forms of workplace reporting in accordance with construction environment practices.
  • Demonstrate an understanding and explanation of the impact of HIV/Aids in the workplace in relation to causes and impact on workplace.
  • Explain different machine operations in relation to construction operating cycle.
  • Identify and explain construction material properties (and defects) in relation to their use with the construction site.
  • Explain specific precautionary measures useful for the safety of workers and the public during the transportation of construction material in relation to various regulatory requirements.
  • Describe earthworks and civil construction in relation to the differences and characteristics.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Draw, plan and identify the work area correctly using a scale, symbols and work specifications.
  • Park the various types of construction plant according to manufacturer and company requirements.
  • Follow the start-up and shutdown procedures according to the specifications of different manufacturers.
  • Carry out pre-operational checks of equipment according to appropriate checklists.
  • Demonstrate controls in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Use controls to manoeuvre equipment to manufacturer's specifications.
  • Follow safe working procedures according to manufacturer's specifications, site-specific and statutory requirements.
  • Identify worksite hazards for their potential to damage equipment and property and injury to people.
  • Demonstrate the ability to operate equipment to functional specifications.
  • Document equipment hours in accordance with company requirements.
  • Report equipment maintenance and faults in accordance with company requirements.

    Integrated Assessment:

    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development providers will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as specified by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment conducted through the relevant QCTO Assessment Quality Partner is required to issue this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment focusses on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria. 

    The Occupational Certificate: Construction Plant Operator was compared with similar qualifications in other countries in terms of scope, level and curriculum content. The purpose of this study was to compare the qualification against existing international practice. The following three countries were selected for international comparison - Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).

    In Australia, the South Australia Skills Gateway offers a Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations. This certificate takes approximately two years to complete. The qualification provides units of competence comprised of 9 core competencies and as many electives as there are types of construction plant. The core unit of competence covers areas such as planning and organising work, carrying out measurement and calculations, protecting underground services, reading and interpreting plans and job specifications, carrying out manual excavations, supporting plant operations and spreading and compacting materials. The electives cover equipment and licensing requirements.

    The United Kingdom (UK):
    In the UK, City and Guilds also provide a level 2 National Vocational Qualification Certificate in Plant Operations. This certificate consists of approximately 45 credits with guided learning hours of 150 to 311. The qualification allows learners to learn, develop and practice the skills required for employment and career progression in several specialist areas of plant operations including cranes and specialist lifting plant, road/rail plant, attachments, forklift trucks, extracting plant, transporting loads plant, accessing plant, laying and distributing plant, compacting plant, processing plant and loading and securing plant. The only difference between the South African qualification and that of the UK is that the UK qualification provides for cranes and forklifts, which are stand-alone qualifications in South Africa. Secondly, the differences arise from the fact that specialisation is for the aggregated plant as opposed to the individual plant.

    United States of America:
    The National Training Inc's Heavy Equipment Operator School in Florida (USA) provides a Heavy Equipment Operator qualification with a duration of 208 hours. The qualification includes classroom knowledge modules consisting of orientation, introduction to earthmoving, loaders, backhoes and dozers and task-based activities for the same equipment as well as safety and site work. In this case, like in the South African qualification, the qualification is general but has a limited range of construction equipment.

    The South African qualification covers 15 equipment types as opposed to the four equipment types in Florida USA. The UK and Australian qualifications are specialist qualifications (similar to the part- qualifications), and the similarity, in this case, is limited to the part-qualifications and not to the actual generic qualification. The time allocated to completing the qualifications differs from country to country. The same applies to levels and credit allocations. 

    Horizontal Articulation:

    This qualification articulates horizontally with the following qualifications:
  • Occupational Certificate: Dump Truck Operator, NQF Level 2.
  • Occupational Certificate: Hydraulic Rock Breaker Operator, NQF Level 2.
  • Occupational Certificate: Loader Operator, NQF Level 2.
  • Occupational Certificate: Skid Steer Loader Operator, NQF Level 2.

    Vertical Articulation:

    This qualification articulates vertically with the following qualifications:
  • National Certificate: Construction: Roadworks, NQF Level 3.
  • National Certificate: Road Construction: FET Phase, NQF Level 3. 



    Qualifying for External Assessment:
  • None

    Additional Legal or Physical Entry Requirements:
  • Medical certificate of Fitness (including eye test).

    Criteria for the Accreditation of Providers:
    Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the QCTO website.

    The curriculum title and code is: Occupational Certificate: Construction Plant Operator 734201000- 00-00.

    Encompassed trades:
    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD:
  • This is not a trade qualification.

    Assessment Quality Partner (AQP):
  • Construction Education and Training Authority.

    Related Part-Qualifications:
  • 734201000-00-01, Occupational Certificate: Diesel Bowser Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-02, Occupational Certificate: Continuous Bucket Trencher Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-03, Occupational Certificate: Sideboom Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-04, Occupational Certificate: Water Cart Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-05, Occupational Certificate: A Hot Mix Asphalt Paving Machine Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-06, Occupational Certificate: Face Shovel Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-07, Occupational Certificate: Surface Grader Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-08, Occupational Certificate: Tractor Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-09, Occupational Certificate: Bitumen Spray Equipment Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-10, Occupational Certificate: Paving Screed Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-11, Occupational Certificate: Surface Roller Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-12, Occupational Certificate: Dozer Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-13, Occupational Certificate: Service Truck Operator, Level 2.
  • 734201000-00-14, Occupational Certificate: Surface Tracked Dozer, Level 2. 

    When qualifications are replaced, some (but not all) of their learning programmes are moved to the replacement qualifications. If a learning programme appears to be missing from here, please check the replaced qualification.

    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.