NQF Levels: Everything you Need to Know


What comes to your mind whenever you come across a job advert, and it has the term NQF in the list of requirements? Do you understand what the acronym stands for, let alone what the term requires of you? You might want to gain more insight on the NQF levels.

South Africa has set a link between the educational systems and the job market. This has not only made job seekers realise how possible it is for them to achieve their dreams but also made the requirements clear for the public. Understanding what the NQF levels mean will make it more transparent for employees to understand the minimum educational requirements for one to be employed in different positions.

NQF levels South Africa

South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a statutory body working according to the National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008. The body works hand in hand with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour to develop and implement the National Qualifications Framework. National Qualifications Framework refers to a formal system that has been set to describe one’s qualification.

SAQA NQF levels and credits

To achieve its goals, SAQA has set a system that integrates recognised national and international standards of education and training. In matters quality, the body has established a quality assurance team that keeps check of the quality of education being offered in the institutions. The body also works hand in hand with the National Learners’ Records Database to record relevant information regarding the top South African students. SAQA also evaluates the educational qualifications of international students to determine the qualifications’ equivalence to the South African levels.

NQF levels and credits

Are you a job seeker and would like to gain more insight about the SAQA NQF levels? These details will not only help you evaluate the job positions that you are more likely to land but also help you understand the ways of making you increase your chances of landing top-notch work positions. 

According to the NQF levels table, these are the different levels:

NQF level 1

This is the most basic level, and it is offered in the General Education and Training category. It is offered to students between grade four and grade nine.


NQF level 2

This is the second level of the qualification, and it is offered in the Further Education and Training category. Students who have completed their grade ten studies are recognised in this category.

NQF level 3

This is the third category, and it is recognised in the Further Education and Training category. It is used to identify students who have completed grade eleven.

NQF level 4

This is the fourth level of the qualifications category. It refers to students who have completed their grade twelve studies. Students who possess their trade certificate are also identified with this category.

NQF level 5

This is the fifth category of the qualification. It is associated with the Higher Education and Training. It identifies students with National Certificate, National Diploma or any Occupational certificate.

NQF level 6

This is the sixth qualification level, and it falls under the Higher Education and Training category. Learners who possess Higher Diplomas or Bachelor’s Degrees are recognised in this category.

NQF level 7

This is the seventh category of qualification, and it is associated with the Higher Education and Training. It recognises learners who possess Post Graduate Certificates or Honours Degrees

NQF level 8

What is the highest NQF level? This is the eighth and highest qualification. It is associated with Higher Education and Training. It is used to recognise those with masters and doctorates. 

NQF credits explained

For one to be awarded any of the qualifications mentioned above, they are required to attain the required credits. What do these credits refer to? NQF credits refer to the notional hours that a learner requires to achieve the requirements of their level of studies. The different levels have a set number of credits that one should attain for them to qualify for the stated NQL levels.

These details about the different NQF levels are vital in determining the job position that a job seeker qualifies for. They are also proof of how much the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education have been integrated to ensure that the industries are braced with a competent workforce.