Getting Your Digger Licence in NZ

According to the government’s National Construction Pipeline report, New Zealand’s construction industry is set for a consistent, if moderate growth until at least 2023. As a result, forecasts say that Kiwis can expect steady job growth in the sector until 2026.

This means that having the appropriate licence to drive special-type vehicles can come in handy in the coming years. If you want to expand your skill set or want a career in the construction industry, getting the right endorsement is certainly an advantage.

Below, we list down some important things to remember when getting a licence for one of the most common construction vehicles: a digger.

The Basic Requirements for a Digger Licence

The very first requirement for getting your digger licence in New Zealand is, of course, a New Zealand driver licence. In particular, you’ll need a Class 1 licence. In addition, you need proof that you have healthy eyesight. You can accomplish this either by undergoing an eyesight screening at a driver licencing centre, or by providing a medical certificate no older than 60 days.

The next step is to get the corresponding endorsement on your driver licence. For a digger, you’ll need the T endorsement or NZQA Unit Standard 16703, which is for vehicles that run on self-laying tracks. To get an endorsement, you first need to receive RTW training(or WTR training). RTW stands for rollers, tracks, and wheels.

Do note that you don’t have to have the R and W endorsements (NZQA Unit Standard 16702 and 16701, respectively) in your licence in order to get a digger licence. However, many training providers offer the RTW training as a package. This is because, more often than not, licenced drivers in the construction or earth-moving industries are expected to be able to drive more than one type of vehicle.

Other Requirements for a Digger Licence

After you’ve completed your RTW training and received certification, the next step is to apply for the endorsement itself. For this, you need to fill out the endorsement application form (DL19). You also need to show your New Zealand full driver licence (or two other forms of identification in place of your driver licence).

There is also an application fee of $44. This is a separate payment from your R, T, W training course. The price is also per endorsement, so you’ll need to pay a total of $132 if you want to receive all three endorsements.

Why Do You Need an Endorsement?

Construction machinery and other special-type vehicles have glaring differences with a standard automobile. For one, construction machines are much heavier and therefore much harder to manoeuvre than a car. In addition, their robust construction can cause more serious accidents.

Construction machinery and other special-type vehicles also have numerous moving parts that need precise control. This is particularly true for vehicles with extendible components, such as the arm of a digger or a backhoe. If a driver doesn’t have ample knowledge of how to control these arms, they can cause considerable damage to property and injure (or even kill) a person.

Thus, a person who desires to acquire a digger licence must pass strict requirements in order to operate one. They must be able to show not only appropriate driving skills but also knowledge about the vehicle they are driving and operating.

More importantly, getting a digger licence means you’ve received safety training with regards to the use of special-type vehicles on the road. In case something happens, the driver can perform the necessary first-aid procedures or emergency measures until the proper authorities arrive.

Who Will Benefit the Most From a Digger Licence?

As earlier mentioned, the construction industry is predicted to grow steadily in the coming years. If you’re aiming to secure a job related to construction, then having a digger licence is definitely beneficial. It’s best to acquire the endorsement before you submit job applications, just to make the process smoother.

Aside from aspiring construction professionals, those in allied or similar industries will also benefit from getting a digger licence and other endorsements. Some of these industries include mining and farming.

What Other Licences Can You Get?

Aside from RTW endorsements, you can also get a licence to operate a forklift. This is reflected as the F endorsement in your driver licence. There are two NZQA Unit Standards for this: 10851 and 18496. The former covers only how to operate a powered industrial lift truck (forklift), while the latter covers knowledge and skills for driving a forklift on a road for endorsement.

There is also a D endorsement, which is required if you are going to transport dangerous goods. “Dangerous goods” is a broad term, which covers ammunition and fireworks, aerosol canisters, LPG and CNG cylinders, and the like.

Finally, you can also get P, V, I, and O endorsements. P is for carrying passengers (e.g., taxis or app-based services), V is for vehicle recovery such as tow trucks or car transporters, I is for driving instructors, and O is for testing officers.

The bottom line is that you need to acquire the necessary licences and endorsements in order to ensure your safety and those of other people on the road. Remember that driving is a privilege. That’s why you need to show that you’re responsible and skilled enough to handle the vehicle you’re driving.