Soli wood

Solid wood

It takes nearly three decades for a radiata pine tree to grow to maturity in the forest, so raw logs need to be processed with great care and accuracy to extract the maximum timber – and value – out of each one.

Careers information

What does it involve?

Wood processing workers:

  • operate sawmill machinery
  • operate log loaders and fork-lifts
  • sort, stack and grade timber
  • trim timber pieces to a standard length
  • record timber sizes and grades and the amount of timber in the yard
  • clean the work areas and equipment
  • package and wrap timber for delivery.

Skills and knowledge

Wood processing workers need to have knowledge of  the sawmill process

  • knowledge of timber characteristics
  • the sizes and grades of timber required for different products
  • safety procedures.

The also need mechanical skills to do basic machinery maintenance.

How could I get into the industry?

There are no specific entry requirements to become a wood processing worker, though a fork-lift licence may be useful. Wood processing workers need to be:

  • practical
  • careful and efficient
  • safety-conscious
  • able to remain calm under pressure.

Useful experience includes previous work in the timber or forestry industries, work with heavy machinery and/or engineering experience.

Wood processing workers need to have a good level of health and fitness. They also need to have normal colour vision and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Click here to visit the Competenz Wood Careers website.

How much could I earn?

Icn Money

Newly Qualified

$35k - $50k

How we support your industry

We partner with industry associations like the Wood Processors Manufacturing Association and members of your industry to help recruit and build talented employees. This support includes promoting careers in your industry, identifying potential learners, and encouraging work placements.

We also ensure your industry’s qualifications continue to meet needs, support industry events like conferences and regularly celebrate your learners’ success.

What's changing?

New Zealand Certificates are replacing National Certificates. The industry and New Zealand Qualifications Authority will recognise all New Zealand and National Certificates as valid, relevant qualifications. Our Competenz account managers will work with companies and learners to help learners complete the appropriate qualifications.

How has the industry been involved?

Members of the industry have recommended the structure and content of the new qualifications.

The New Zealand Certificates are now available for learners to study towards. They will replace the National Certificates over the next few years.

If learners...


Are part way through a National Certificate

Our Competenz account managers will review learners’ progress and confirm the appropriate way forward for each learner.

Have not yet started their qualification 

They will enrol in the New Zealand Certificate.

Have completed  a National Certificate 

They will not need to enrol in the new qualification. The industry continues to recognise National Certificates as valid, relevant qualifications.

 Our Competenz account managers will work with companies and learners to help them understand what they need to do to complete the appropriate qualification.

Qualification overview

Solid wood manufacturing qualifications are comprised of a number of disciplines, each with a unique qualification variation (strand) and specific unit standards (learning outcomes) to help assess competency and promote best practices in the yard or in the processing factory.

In some cases two programme options exist for each qualification. A shorter duration option may be chosen if the trainee already holds some of the required units and will therefore complete the qualification in a shorter time.

Competenz also offers solid wood manufacturing apprenticeships which result in the completion of both a Level 3 and Level 4 qualification. Our solid wood manufacturing apprenticeships include:

  • Apprenticeship in Finger Jointing
  • Apprenticeship in Saw Doctoring
  • Apprenticeship in Sawmilling
  • Apprenticeship in Timber Machining

All of our apprenticeships comply with the New Zealand Apprenticeship rules.

New Zealand Certificates

Solidwood Programme Handbook webThe programme handbook summarises the New Zealand Certificates and how to work towards them.



  • Timber grading: 58 credits, 8-12 months 
  • Sawmilling: 53 credits, 8-12 months
  • Timber drying: 45 credits, 8-12 months
  • Laminating: 55 credits, 12 months
  • Pole, post and pile: 74 credits, 14 months
  • Timber machining: 53 credits, 8-12 months
  • Finger jointing: 53 credits, 13 month
  • Wood panel manufacture: 58 credits, 8-12 months

 Qualification overview


  • Foundation knowledge: 40 credits, 12 months 
  • Wood handing and distribution: 40 credits, 9 months
  • Wood processing: 41 credit, 10 months

Qualification overview


  • Timber grading: 74 credits, 8-12 months 
  • Sawmilling: 49 credits, 12 months
  • Timber treatment: 67 credits, 18 months
  • Pole, post and pile: 62 credits, 18 months
  • Timber machining: 79 credits,  18 months
  • Finger jointing: 78 credits, 18 month
  • Saw doctoring: 77 credits, 16 months

Qualification overview



  • Log yard operations: 53 credits, 12 months
  • Wood fibre operations: 55 credits, 12 months
  • Timber yarding and dispatch: 50 credits, 12 months

Qualification overview


  • Timber grading: 50 credits, 8 - 12 months
  • Timber drying: 45 credits, 8 - 12 months
  • Timber treatment: 55 credits, 8 - 12 months
  • Laminating: 48 credits, 12 months

Qualification overview

160 credits, 30 months

Qualification overview

120 credits, 24 months

Qualification overview

125 credits, 24 months

Qualification overview

80 credits, 18 months

Qualification overview 

New Zealand Certificate in manufacturing in level 5: 65 credits, 9 months