Steps Involved in Becoming a Heavy Vehicle Specialist Certifier (HVSC) to Practice as a Heavy Vehicle Certifying Engineer (HVCE)
- Gain relevant qualifications in Mechanical Engineering: See detail of these steps and options below.
- Recognise that this is a specialist field and you need a lot of on-the-job work experience to gain industry knowledge – also the most effective training in this field. Be prepared to glean and learn from others along the entire pathway of your career in this industry.
- Start working in the heavy transport industry – Get a job working for a heavy vehicle engineer or in a company that does heavy vehicle engineering. This experience will help you gain an understanding of the industry. It is recommended that you work alongside an already qualified HVCE, but if that is not possible, seek out a respected HVCE willing to mentor and/or advise you through this process. A curriculum vitae outlining your qualifications and experience, and written references will be required to support your application to become an HVSC.
- There are seven technical certification categories in which you can become qualified to practice as a HVSC in New Zealand. Some have prerequisite qualifications as noted below. Please refer to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website for more detail of each of these here.
Load Anchorages (HVEA) – Securing loads to vehicles: Rope rails, chain hooks, twistlocks, chain plates etc. Excludes log bolsters
Towing Connections (HVET) – Drawbars, drawbeams, kingpins, fifth wheels, towbars
Chassis Modification and Repair (HVEC) – Steering conversion, PSV rollover, chassis modifications and repairs, design of new chassis and ratings, mounting of cranes and other specialised equipment, modifications and repairs to drive trains and axles, seatbelt anchorage design. Note: Prerequisite HVET
Brakes (HVEK) – Brake system design and modification
Log Bolster (HVEL) – Attachments, modifications and repairs. Note: Prerequisite HVEC
Static Roll Threshold (HVS1, HVS2, HVS3) – Calculate stability angle. Note: Prerequisite previous SRT qualification
Dynamic Performance: Swept Path (HVP1); and, Vehicle Dynamics PBS (HVP2) Note: Prerequisite HVP1
Link to Heavy Vehicle Specialist Applications on the NZTA website for information, contacts, syllabus requirements for each category, and relevant application forms.
- When you think you know enough to sit an exam in any one category, contact NZTA with questions and for timing and locations of the next relevant exam at: email@example.com; or phone: 0800 587287.
- Once you pass the exam for any category, you will be required to attend an interview with NZTA to be questioned on your business acumen and work ethic, technical ability and understanding of the industry and your critical role in it. At the interview you will be required to provide samples of your work in the respective category from first principles engineering, and demonstrate competence of the subject matter, Rules and Standards, and design requirements. From your interview it may be identified that more training is required prior to progressing further in the process.
- On successful completion of the NZTA interview, you will be required to attend training in the Performance Review System (PRS). The PRS is the review (audit) and performance measurement process that you will follow for the entirety of your appointment as an HVSC, even after your period of probation is completed.
- Prior to your appointment, you will have a liaison visit from NZTA to ensure that all systems are established in your workplace, and are sufficient that a credible delivery is possible.
- At the satisfactory completion of the liaison visit you will be allowed to commence your first period of probation under direct guidance of a Mentor. The Mentor will be an experienced HVSC appointed in the respective category, and a person acceptable to NZTA to fulfil this role. This first period of probation will be for a minimum of three months. During this first period of probation, the Mentor will be onsite and oversee directly all your work; the Mentor will issue the LT400 certificates and sign-off your files. The Mentor is duty-bound to help you identify weaknesses and opportunities for development, and any training requirements. The probationary period will be staged in three-monthly periods with reviews (audits) at the completion of each three-monthly interval. The length of this process is determined by your performance at the NZTA Reviews at the end of each three-monthly period. If the scope of your work is determined to lack the required practice in a given category, or your performance is wanting, then the probation may be repeated and further mentoring or training may be required. The same process is repeated for each category. See Steps in Probation below
- Upon completing probationary requirements, you will receive a Notice of Appointment of up to five years. For a summary of expectations, link here. This period of appointment may be extended by the issue of a valid Certificate of Appointment, with a new termination date stated on the certificate.
Summary of Steps in Probation
- Pre-Probation liaison visit from NZTA. Successful liaison visit confirms the ‘Certifier’ may commence First Probation Period. The certifier’s ‘Mentor’ is directly involved with sign-off of all files and LT400 certificates, and completes an NZTA mentoring report (NZTA template) for each file
COMPLETION OF FIRST PROBATION PERIOD
- At three months, and at completion of First Probation Period, an NZTA Review will take place
- If the NZTA Review score is 2.6 or greater, the Certifier may commence Second Probation Period. At this stage the Certifier is provisionally appointed with authority to sign-off LT400 certificates, but under continued oversight of the Mentor who is required to countersign all files and complete a mentoring report
- If the NZTA Review score is less than 2.6, the Certifier is required to repeat the First Probation Period for a minimum of three months. If at the completion of this repeat-Probation Period the score is less than 2.6, the Certifier may be required to repeat the complete probation period in that category, or may be required to undergo further training, or required to stand down indefinitely until such time as NZTA can be assured of ongoing competence
COMPLETION OF SECOND PROBATION PERIOD
- At three months, and at completion of Second Probation Period, an NZTA Review will take place
- If the NZTA Review score is 2.6 or greater, the Certifier may commence a Third and Final Period of Probation under Mentor oversight
- If the NZTA Review score is less than 2.6, the Certifier is required to repeat the Second Probation Period for a minimum of three months. If at the completion of this repeat of Second Probation Period the score is less than 2.6, the Certifier may be required to repeat the complete probation period in that category, or may be required to undergo further training, or required to stand down indefinitely until such time as NZTA can be assured of ongoing competence
COMPLETION OF THIRD AND FINAL PROBATION PERIOD
- At three months, and at the completion of Third and Final Probation Period, an NZTA Review will take place
- If the NZTA Review score is 2.6 or greater, the Certifier is confirmed as an HVSC in the relevant category and moves on to the normal review cycle, with reviews based on performance
- An additional NZTA Review may be scheduled six months after the successful completion of Probation, at the discretion of NZTA
- Refer to Heavy Vehicle Specialist Applications on the NZTA website.
- The HVSC Vehicle Inspection Requirements Manual (VIRM) on the NZTA website will also be useful in helping you further understand what is required of an HVCE in your chosen field/s. Open the Introduction and go to Section 1: ‘Purpose and Scope’ and Section 6: Appointments
- If you have other questions you would like to discuss with someone from within HVE, please feel free to contact any member of the HVE Committee or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HVE can also put you in contact with other engineers who have recently been through this process themselves, who are willing to discuss options with you from their perspective as recent graduates or as graduates in process
- The General Manager of Professional Standards at Engineering New Zealand may be of assistance regarding qualification pathways. Contact through: email@example.com
or phone +64 4 473 9444
NZQA Level 6 Diploma in a relevant engineering discipline, or an approved equivalent, is the minimum prerequisite qualification requirement for starting the journey of becoming an NZTA-approved heavy vehicle certifying engineer (NB: NZCE and Diploma of Engineering have been replaced by NZDE & NZDEP)
If you are opting to gain your qualification extramurally so you can continue working while obtaining it, choosing higher level qualifications will prepare you better and enable you to more easily transition to BE(Hons)Mech later if you wish. To this end, subsequent qualifications and pathways have been detailed further down in Options to help you make an informed decision incorporating your ongoing career aspirations in heavy vehicle engineering.
Suggested Contacts / Further Information
- The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) depiction of the relationship between Levels 1-8. Select Mechanical Engineer from the list of professions
- Engineering to Employment (E2E) helpful advice and information
- The New Zealand Government: Careers. Search ‘Mechanical Engineer’
- Engineering New Zealand: Engineering Qualifications
I understand that you can only do NZDEP after doing NZDE, is that true?
That’s right, NZDE is a prerequisite. The only exception is when organisations take on cadets, who do NZDE on a part-time basis while engaging in actual engineering work. NZDEP is then pretty much integrated into their whole course of study, in which case it’s also possible that both could be completed within a 3-year period.
How long will it otherwise take to complete both these courses?
NZDE is 2 years and NZDEP could be done in 18 months depending on the ability of the organisation to provide a mentor
Do you have to do them both, and if not, are there any advantages in doing them both?
You don’t have to do both, and there is no crossover between them. However, an NZDE graduate can gain recognition with EngNZ as a Certified Engineering Technician (CertETn) by doing the NZDEP and become an Associate Member of EngNZ. NZDEP also enables an industry worker to meet the minimum standard of competence expected of a qualified engineering technician in the heavy vehicle industry.
What is the advantage of doing NZDE?
NZDE provides theoretical skills needed as an engineering technician. For someone who simply wishes to have the authority to certify jobs in their current place of employment, NZDE (or equivalent) is the minimum entry level set by NZTA for gaining necessary qualifications in their chosen heavy vehicle certification categories, and as such, is sufficient for requirements to embark on that journey. It is also ideal for someone considering a career change. NZDE  was designed by industry as a career launcher in the engineering sector. The general pathway could be NZDE then onto BEngTech and then onto BE (Cross-crediting enables quicker passage through higher qualifications).
What is the difference between BEngTech, BE(Mech) and BE(Hons)Mech?
|3 years full time||4 years full time||4 years full time|
|Can be completed part time or by distance education||Full time||Full time|
|Polytechnic awarded degree (and one university)||University awarded degree||University awarded degree|
|Engineering technologists work on broadly defined engineering problems ||Professional engineers work on complex engineering problems ||Awarded as recognition of distinguished study in BE in most institutions, but in some cases is integrated into BE programme|
|More versatile – more practical, and can be completed while still in full time employment||More focused on theoretical knowledge and will suit students who are interested in engineering design and theory||More demanding and rigorous – intense, in-depth, self-directed. Prepares for admission to further postgraduate study|
|Meets the Sydney Accord ||Meets the Washington Accord ||Meets the Washington Accord |
|Graduate Membership of EngNZ||Professional Membership of EngNZ||Professional Membership of EngNZ|
NB: BEngTech is also used as a transition to BE and BE(Hons)Mech, and therefore both levels are eventually completed
What are the pitfalls of one route over another?
The route from Diploma (NZDE) to BE or BE(Hons)Mech can be difficult depending upon the individual student’s study record and the particular institution. The route from Dip to BEngTech is a bit better defined because the institutions offering BEngTech can be more cooperative and student focused.
 There are various agreements between member countries governing mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence, allowing individuals who hold relevant qualifications to travel and work with ease within these countries. See: http://www.ieagreements.org. There are 3 such agreements relating to tertiary-level qualifications in engineering, accredited by Engineering New Zealand (EngNZ): the Dublin Accord, the Sydney Accord and the Washington Accord. The Dublin Accord recognises qualifications in technician engineering, normally of two years duration (See Sydney and Washington accords below)
 From ‘A Guide to Engineering Qualifications in New Zealand – 2014: At the Diploma and Bachelors Degree Level’ by John P Blakeley (Programme Leader, Department of Civil Engineering, Unitec Institute of Technology)
 The Sydney Accord recognises qualifications in engineering technology, normally of three years duration
 The Washington Accord recognises qualifications in professional engineering, normally of four years duration
Thanks to Mike Fermanis (provides the secretariat for the NZ Board of Engineering Diplomas) for his particular help in clarifying many FAQ details, and to Glynn McGregor (Manager, Futureintech) for pointing us in the right direction (2015).