Drillers’ Licences and National Qualifications

ADITC is often asked what the relationship is between drillers’ licensing for waterwell drilling, and national trade qualifications like Certificate II (2) or Certificate III (3) in Drilling Operations.

The answer is that holding a Driller’s Licence forms part of the trade qualification (but not all of it). So does your experience as a waterwell driller and your training (such as a Screens and Gravel Packing Course).

Drillers’ Licensing

Licensing is really a ‘permit to work’ structure. Licences are issued by each state and territory. In getting a licence, applicants will demonstrate that they have the knowledge involved in drilling, and that they have the skills to do it. Getting a licence has two parts.

First: each state requires applicants to meet certain state requirements so the state can make sure that local legislation and conditions are understood by the waterwell drillers working there. Requirements vary from state to state.

Second: All states use the common base of a national examination, so that technical skills are common across the nation to a certain benchmark.

Classes of Drillers’ Licence, and endorsements

Class 1 Single non-flowing aquifer
Class 2 Multiple non-flowing aquifer
Class 3 Artesian (flowing) aquifer / geothermal
4A Cable Tool endorsement
4B Auger endorsement
4C Rotary air endorsement
4D Rotary mud endorsement
4E Sonic Endorsement (from 1 October 2013)


National AQF* (trade) qualifications: Certificates in Drilling Operations

*AQF = Australian Qualifications Framework

A National AQF qualification is a trade qualification. National qualifications are issued by certain bodies which have to be registered to do so. ADITC is the body which is registered to deliver all the qualifications available to the Drilling Industry.

Why would I want a qualification?

Clients are increasingly demanding proof of qualifications, and having proof of qualification as well as a licence may be required to tender for government work or with large clients.

What’s it about?

All Australian industries now follow this structure.  It is newer to the Drilling Industry, which prior 1998 had no trade qualification available. Now there are drillers’ qualifications available at Certificate 2 (Driller’s Assistant), Certificate 3 (Driller – the trade level), Certificate 4 (senior driller), Diploma (Drill Supervisor) and Advanced Diploma (Operations/ Business Manager)

National qualifications are based on meeting a set of competency standards decided by each industry. To be awarded the qualification, people must be competent in a number of common units (standards), at least one drilling method unit, and any sector specific units.

Certificate 3 and 4 in Drilling (Waterwell): Standards required

Looking at the standards required for the qualifications Certificates 3 and 4 in Drilling Operations, you can see how the licence and endorsement/s provide proof. A Drillers’ Licence will cover the parts of the qualification marked **** below to form part of Certificate III (3) in Drilling (Waterwell Sector), or Certificate IV (4) in Drilling Operations.

All of the Mandatory units of competency from RII31809 Certificate III in Drilling Operations
Unit code Unit title
BSBWHS301A Maintain workplace safety
RIIBEF301A Run on-site operations
RIICOM201A Communicate in the workplace
RIINHB301B Set up and prepare for drilling operations
RIIRIS301B Apply risk management processes
RIISAM209A Carry out operational maintenance
MSAPMSUP172A Identify and minimise environmental hazards
TAEDEL301A Provide work skills instruction

PLUS at least one of these specified electives

RIINHB304B Conduct air drilling ****
RIINHB305A Conduct continuous flight auger drilling ****
RIINHB311A Conduct mud rotary drilling ****
RIINHB313A Conduct cable tool drilling ****

PLUS at least one of these specified electives units

Unit code Unit title
RIINHB320A Construct monitoring bores ****
RIINHB325A Construct single aquifer production bores ****
RIINHB322A Construct multiple aquifer production bores ****
RIINHB411A Construct artesian (flowing) aquifer production bores ****
RIINHB412B Construction geothermal wells ****

PLUS three of the following general elective units

General electives
Unit code Unit title
HLTFA311A Apply First Aid
HLTFA412A Apply advanced First Aid
PMASUP236B Operate vehicles in the field
RIIERR302A Respond to local emergencies and incidents
RIINHB219A Assist with air drilling ****
RIINHB205A Assist continuous flight auger drilling ****
RIINHB211A Assist mud rotary boring ****
RIINHB213A Assist cable tool drilling ****
RIIQUA201A Maintain and monitor site quality standards
RIIVEH305A Operate and maintain a four wheel drive vehicle
RIISAM205A Cut, weld and bend materials
RIIOHS204A Work safely at heights

Note: The new RII Training Package was released in November 2013, and these units will soon be coded as a “D” version.

National qualifications are built up from proving the learning and experience you have while you’re working in the industry, wherever it was gained.  It can come from formal study courses (like DICAT, or Senior First Aid Courses, Screens and Gravel Packs Courses, dogging or management courses). It can also come from proof of experience (like testimonials from past or current employers, proof of work carried out such as drilling logs, or bore logs). Licences also provide proof (eg driver’s licences, or a Driller’s Licence). This means that all your training and experience counts towards the qualification, and having your Drillers’ Licence gets you well on the way already.

So, the relationship between Drillers’ Licensing and national (trade) qualifications is that having a drillers’ licence completed means that you can easily and immediately prove that you have all the required theory and experience needed for certain standards at Certificate 3 and potentially at Certificate 4. You still need to show that you have the practical experience and understanding of the other standards, which you can do by showing evidence of satisfactory work that you have carried out. Once you do that, by providing documentation or being assessed at site by an assessor, you can be granted a national Certificate.

For further information please contact Maree Griffin at ADITC Phone: 02 9428 3444 Email: admin@aditc.com.au