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: Dry Kiln Operator 
118698  Occupational Certificate: Dry Kiln Operator 
Development Quality Partner-FPMSETA 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 06 - Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology  Engineering and Related Design 
Undefined  366  Not Applicable  NQF Level 04  Regular-ELOAC 
Registered  EXCO 0522/24  2022-02-03  2025-12-31 
2026-12-31   2029-12-31  

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 does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a Dry Kiln Operator.

A Dry Kiln Operator operates and manages drying systems producing uniform seasoned timber under controlled conditions.

A qualified learner will be able to
  • Plan, prepare and stack timber for kiln drying.
  • Transport stacked timber to various production areas.
  • Operate and tend kilns to dry, prepare and season timber and other wood products.
  • Complete and maintain production and moisture content reports.

    In addition, learner attributes will include problem solving, interpreting information and communication, environment, and safety awareness.

    The timber industry had its own training programmes for the training of Dry Kiln Operator; however, the programmes were not standardised. Many of these training programmes do not lead to the proficiency and competencies of the trained person and fall short of the needs of the industry, nor do the certificates of attendance help to advance them in their careers. The South African Lumber Millers Association (SALMA) previously started the development of the National Certificate in Wood Technology: Lumber Milling (Lumber Drying), but the qualification was never rolled out for application. As a result, this qualification will be of benefit to the forestry industry and in a larger context, be of benefit to the general formal and informal economy.

    The Dry Kiln Operator qualification development is coordinated jointly between FP&MSETA and the Sawmilling SA. The qualification will draw from number of trained and practising personnel currently serving various economic subsectors. Some of these subsectors are furniture making, joinery and construction. For optimum usage of the timber in these subsectors, the timber must be dried to specific moisture contents and quality in order to encapsulate its beauty, usefulness and longevity in the sphere of its application. The benefits from trained and qualified Dry Kiln Operators will be improved quality of products that will enhance service quality, product exportation and efficiency in product development.

    The new Dry Kiln Operator qualification will open the door to learners with a NQF Level 2 qualification or a Grade 10 school-leaving certificate with Mathematics to enter the field of timber drying: whether in the sawmilling, carpentry, furniture or general timber industry. There are about 100 sawmills and several small operators that could use at least one qualified Dry Kiln Operator on their staff. Equally important will be the impact of trained personnel (Dry Kiln Operator) for large joinery and solid wood furniture manufacturing companies.

    A learner completing this qualification will have the opportunity to articulate horizontally into Wood Processing Machine operations and other related subsectors, such as carpentry. Vertically, the qualified incumbent can train and serve as a Saw Doctor or Sawmill Manager. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    Gain Access Through RPL
    Learners will gain access to the qualification through RPL for Access as provided for in the QCTO RPL Policy. RPL for access is conducted by accredited education institution, skills development provider or workplace accredited to offer that specific qualification/part qualification.

    Exemption from Modules Through RPL
    Learners who have acquired competencies of the modules of a qualification or part qualification will be credited for modules through RPL.

    RPL for access to the external 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 result.

    Entry Requirements:
    The minimum entry requirement for this qualification is:
  • NQF Level 2 qualification with Mathematics. 


    This qualification is made up of compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skill and Work Experience Modules.

    Knowledge Modules
  • 682101-000-00-KM-01 Basic Business Principles, Level 3, 70 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-02 Principles of Wood Structure, Level 4, 25 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-03 Basic Principles of Health, Safety and Quality, Level 2, 6 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-04 Introduction to Personal Computer, Level 3, 5 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-05 Occupational Health, Safety and Environment, Level 3, 3 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-06 Introduction to Kiln Operations, Level 3, 15 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-07 Kiln Drying Processes and Operations, Level 4, 30 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-KM-08 Operations of Kiln Dry system, Level 4, 20 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 174

    Practical Skill Modules
  • 682101-000-00-PM-01 Plan and Prepare to Build Stacks, Level 3, 10 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-PM-02 Load and Move Kiln Trolley to, into and from Kilns to Production Areas, Level 2, 20 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-PM-03 Monitor and Control Operations of Kiln Machine During Timber Drying Processes, Level 4, 30 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-PM-04 Operate Kiln to Schedule, Level 4, 25 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-PM-05 Perform Basic Maintenance and Lubrication in a Drying Area in Timber Mill, Level 4, 22 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 107

    Work Experience Modules
  • 682101-000-00-WM-01 Participate and Complete Planning and Preparation for Timber Drying Processes, Level 4, 15 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-WM-02 Perform Timber Transportation Processes between Production Areas, Level 2, 10 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-WM-03 Undertake Operation Processes for the Kiln Machine, Level 4, 30 Credits.
  • 682101-000-00-WM-04 Participate in Procedures to Complete Drying Reports, Level 4, 30 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 85 

    1. Plan, prepare and transport stacked timber to various production sites for kiln drying.
    2. Operate kilns to dry as well as preparing and seasoning timber and other wood products to industry standards and production specifications.
    3. Complete and maintain production and moisture content reports to ascertain that timber product are dried to specifications. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Plan and correctly prepare building of timber stacks to improve uniform drying of timber in the whole stack.
  • Correctly load kiln trolley to keep timber intact during transportation and for drying purposes.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Monitor and control operations of kiln machine during timber drying processes in accordance with manufacturer manual and production requirements.
  • Operate kiln schedule to meet production requirements.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Perform basic maintenance and lubrication in a drying area in timber mill to ensure optimal functioning of all equipment for drying purposes.
  • Complete production and moisture content reports following standard procedures for all equipment.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment
    The skills development provider 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 stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment together with work experience leads to entrance in the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant QCTO Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria.

    The assessment will be conducted through written assessment and the evaluation of practical tasks at decentralised approved assessment sites by a panel of assessors evaluated by assessor(s) registered with the AQP within a period of 1 day. 

    The purpose of this International Comparability is to facilitate the development of a meaningful learning path and its associated curriculum, incorporating both theoretical and practical vocational skills which will ensure compatibility, comparability and compliance with existing international practices. It also enables the development of curriculum to benefit from best practices internationally. The broad competencies of our qualification are compared to similar qualifications or programmes from the following countries:
  • Canada
  • United States of America

    The University of British Colombia's Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) offers a Kiln Drying Certificate Programme for secondary and advanced primary manufacturing. On completion, the certificate enables the learner to be competent to operate dry kilns, as determined by standards established by the wood products industry.

    The full programme entails approximately 150 hours of instruction for six modules that range in duration from two to five days. The modules blend the teaching of solid knowledge with a practical solutions-based approach as well as plant visits and team-based exercises. Each module is offered at least once per year. Participants may complete the modules at their own pace in order to fit in with professional responsibilities. The modules offered include the following:
  • Module 1: Introduction to Wood Drying.
  • Module 2: Kiln Quality Control.
  • Module 3: Kiln Performance Analysis.
  • Module 4: Advanced Power Plant & Operations.
  • Module 5: Kiln Controls & Control Instrumentation.
  • Module 6: Advanced Schedule Development.

    The Canadian qualification is similar to South Africa's Dry Kiln Operator in terms of modules and content, and in terms of exit outcomes and competencies.

    The differences between these qualifications are in duration with the South Africa's being longer; the other notable difference is with regards to density. The Dry Kiln Operator develops further in terms of non-technical skills such as business, environmental awareness, health and safety, and basic computer knowledge and applications.

    United States of America
    The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) was founded in 1898 to establish a uniform system of grading rules for the measurement and inspection of hardwood lumber. Since then, NHLA has taken on the role of educator, whose mission is to provide the industry with the training it needs to succeed in a changing and global economy. The NHLA provide the following two courses to train experts in the industry:
  • Basic Lumber Drying
    This course aims to improve efficiency by teaching methods for diagnosing and reducing the risk of degrades during the kiln drying process. Topics include aspects such as: evaluating log suppliers, transportation and operating the kiln.
  • Advanced Lumber Drying
    The Advanced Lumber Drying Short Course is a one-day course covering in details of methods of drying lumber. The course assists the kiln manager to create drying schedules specific to their environment. It also covers check reduction, disease management, and drying procedures for sensitive species such as white oak.

    The two qualifications are similar with regards to the same modules covered in the content especially the fundamentals of wood treatment; wood transportation and storage; basic and advanced wood drying methods.

    The obvious difference is the magnitude of details in each course and the duration. The USA's NHLA offers a variety of short courses all with the end goal of achieving skills and competencies in wood treatment; the South Africa's Dry Kiln Operator consolidates all the knowledge, outcomes, and skills into one qualification at NQF level 4 and incorporates soft skills which diversify knowledge and increases employability of qualifying learners.

    In all cases as will be the case in SA, the training programme focuses on equipping learners with skills required for meeting operational and quality standards in the South African context. Thus, the Dry Kiln Operator qualification compares quite favourably and satisfactorily with the qualifications offered in the two North American countries. 

    This qualification provides opportunities for horizontal and vertical articulation options.

    Horizontal Articulation:
  • Occupational Certificate: Dry Mill Machine Operator, NQF Level 4.

    Vertical Articulation:
  • N4 Engineering Studies, NQF Level 5. 

  • NOTES 
    Qualifying for External Assessment:
    To qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required knowledge and practical modules by means of statements of results and a record of completed work experience.

    Additional Legal or Physical Entry Requirements:
  • None

    Criteria for the accreditation of providers
  • None

    The curriculum title and code are: Dry Kiln Operator: 682101-000-00.

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

    Assessment Quality Partner (AQP)
    Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA). 


    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.