FET College


NQF Levels, What Do They Mean?

If you have ever applied for a course, you have probably come across the term “NQF levels.” They play an important role in South Africa’s educational system. When looking for approved and reputable courses, look for an NQF level course to ensure the education is of high quality and will be recognised by many institutions and employers.

What Are The NQF Levels?

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is a system for ranking the quality of your education from level 1 to level 10. The NQF system will assign you a ranking based on your education level. The higher your education, the higher your level will be.

For example, if you completed a Higher certificate after finishing high school, you would be at NQF level 5. When applying for further education or career positions, you must consider the entry criteria. Check that the NQF level sought matches the one you have. If the criteria requires you to have an NQF level 3, you can apply, because your NQF level is higher than this.

We’ve described the many NQF levels you may obtain throughout your academic career below.

NQF Level



General certificate

Grade 9


Elementary certificate

Grade 10

National Vocational Certificate Level 2


Intermediate certificate

Grade 11 

National Vocational Certificate Level 3


National Senior Certificate

Amended Matric Certificate

National Vocational Certificate Level 4


Higher Certificate

Advanced National Vocational Certificate


National Diploma

Advanced Certificate


Bachelor’s Degree

Advanced Diploma

Post-graduate Certificate 

Bachelors of Technology


Bachelors Honour’s Degree

Post-graduate Diploma

Professional Qualifications


Master’s Degree


Doctor’s Degree

What Is The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)?

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is the body in charge of monitoring South African further education and training. They are made up of 12 members selected by the Minister of Higher Education and Training.

The SAQA is also involved in analysing and regulating NQF levels. They verify that all institutions that claim to provide NQF-accredited courses are telling the truth. When a course claims to be certified and recognised by SAQA, it signifies that it has been authorised and deemed to be of high quality by a reputable organisation.

Why Are NQF Levels Important?

The NQF levels are significant for a number of reasons. They are used to assess a person’s skill level and how quickly they will adjust to further studies or employment positions.

They allow for national recognition of your qualification, as well as the quality of your qualification. The NQF is also important in undoing historical educational inequality and allowing everyone to attain educational achievements on the NQF levels.

Is An NQF Level Qualification Worth It?

Yes, earning an NQF qualification is worthwhile. Here is a list of reasons why having an NQF level qualification is beneficial:

  • You will be more confident in your abilities
  • You will be certain of your knowledge abilities
  • You will be able to raise your NQF level
  • You can apply for higher-paying jobs
  • You can apply for a wide range of jobs that demand your experience
  • You will advance in your job more quickly
  • Your educational level can be measured and acknowledged

What Is The Highest NQF?

The highest NQF any person can achieve is an NQF level 10. It is equal to a Doctorate Degree, which can be obtained at a university.

What Is The Equivalent Of An NQF Level 4?

Here are the qualifications you can achieve that are equivalent to an NQF Level 4:

  • National Senior Certificate
  • Amended Matric Certificate
  • National Vocational Certificate Level 4

What Are Credits And How Can You Earn Them?

Credits are acquired by completing courses and attending classes. All courses do not have the same number of credits. When applying for further studies, you may be required to obtain a particular amount of credits before you can begin the course. Also, if you are in your first year of study, you will need to acquire a particular number of credits in that year before proceeding to the second year of study.

The great thing about credits is that even if you did not finish a course entirely, some of the lessons and subjects you studied contain credits that can be transferred to the next course you want to pursue. This means you will have a head start in your new studies.

What Are NATED Courses?

The National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) courses are popular courses that many students in South Africa study. They are also present on the NQF levels, and are highly sought after by many employers in the professional world.

You can pursue a NATED course in a wide range of industries that will properly prepare you for employment in a trade. This is due to the fact that they include both theoretical and practical studies. Here are some examples of NATED courses you can take:

The following is how NATED courses are structured:

NATED course

Type of qualification

NQF level

N1 National Certificate Course

Grade 10

Level 2

N1 National Certificate Course

Grade 11

Level 3

N1 National Certificate Course

Grade 12

Level 4

If you have a Matric certificate, you can start the NATED courses from here

N4 National Certificate Course


Level 5

N4 National Certificate Course


Level 5

N6 National Certificate Course


Level 5

N6 National Diploma Course


Level 6

On the NQF levelling system, the N6 National Diploma Course is recognised at level 6. It is the greatest level of success you may attain through the NATED courses.

Author: Esmari Pool
Editor: Esmari Pool
Date Published: November 9, 2022


Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.