The PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application is a highly regarded course that allows those working in the industry to deepen their knowledge.  Our Certificate in Wood Technology and Application course provides a level of insight and understanding of the wood industry that adds real and measurable value to careers and businesses.   This is a distance learning course where you are supported throughout by a work-based mentor..

Why study towards the PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application?

Completion of the L3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application demonstrates your commitment to your career and to the industry.
Those who successfully complete the course are equipping themselves for further progression and supervisory roles.

Who should study the course?

The PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application is roughly the same level as a GCE A-level course and is designed for those wishing to broaden and deepen their understanding.  It is a natural progression for those that have already completed the Level 2 Award in Timber and Panel Products that wish to develop their knowledge further, but you don't need to have done the Level 2 course first.

How can I study the course?

Our PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application course is studied via distance learning to allow you to fit your learning around a busy professional and personal life.  We will provide you with all the necessary course materials which you should work through with the support or your mentor.  Once you have completed the workbooks and self-assessment tasks you should register to take the final assessment, in the form of a 90 minute exam, which takes place in June and November each year.  The whole course represents a study time of 120 hours, of which 12 should be guided learning with others and we anticipate that you should be able to complete the course is approximately twelve months.

How is the course structured?

The PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application is made up of 2 mandatory core units and 2 option units; each unit is broken down in to a number of sections.  The course materials are provided in the form of workbooks which you can work through at your own pace, and include self-assessment exercises to check your understanding.

Mandatory Core Units


  1. Understand why carbon is related to timber supply
    Establish the relationship between carbon and timber supply
    Identify the elements of life cycle assessment
    Explain why forests are of environmental importance
  2. Understand the key influencers of responsible and legal timber sourcing
    State the key policies, schemes and legislation influencing responsible sourcing of timber
    Identify the purpose and elements within a chain of custody
    Identify the main participants with a chain of custody
    Name the two principle timber certification schemes in use in the UK
    Compare the two principle legal frameworks that control trading of timber
    Identify the elements within ‘due diligence’ requirements when trading timber
    Outline how trade in endangered species is controlled


  1. Understand the sorting grades of timber available from Europe and Russia
    State the differences between appearance and strength grading
    State the principle sorting grades of timber available from Europe and Russia
    Clarify what is meant by the sorting grade ‘unsorted’
  2. Understand the Purpose of strength grading timber
    Describe visual strength grading
    State how machines grade for strength
    Recognise the key differences between a strength grade and a strength class
  3. Understand timber end use and preservation treatments
    Outline the five categories of Use Classes for the different end use situations under current British and European standards
    Outline the use of tar oils, water-bourne, organic solvents and emulsions as preservative treatments
    Explain what is meant by wood modification
  4. Understand the use of engineered products
    Outline the uses of the main engineered composite structural timber products
  5. Understand how to maintain the quality of timber, timber components and panel products
    Name the factors responsible for a reduction to the original quality and strength of timber and timber products, post conversion.

Optional Units - choose two from the following three options


  1. Understand wood as a material to determine specification
    State the importance of correct name specification
    Distinguish the surfaces exposed when timber is converted
    Explain the significance of sapwood, heartwood, early wood and late wood for the specification and use of timber
    Describe a piece of timber in terms of its gross physical features
    State the basic function of principle cells
  2. Understand the reasons for timber movement
    State what is meant by density and how it relates to a particular timbers use
    Account for the behaviour of timber subjected to changes to moisture content
    Distinguish between shrinkage and movement of timber
  3. Understand the principle British and European norms when specifying timber for particular end uses
    Identify the factors that give rise to variability of permeability
    Differentiate between the organism that degrade timber, prevention and remedies
    State the headings for durability ratings, giving examples of hardwood and softwood timbers with each durability class under standards
    Suggest an example application/end use situation for each of the Use Classes within current Standards
    Outline the principle woodworm/beetles responsible for timber degrade
  4. Understand the effect of loads on timber in use
    Distinguish between the main strength properties of timber
    State the factors affecting the strength properties of timber
    Differentiate between the deflection stresses within timber beam in use: compression, tension, shear, bending


  1. Understand the principle sources of wood supply
    Identify the main geographical origins of softwood growth and supply
    Distinguish between natural and plantation supply
  2. Understand how machining affects the finished sizes of commercially available softwood
    Detail standard sizes of sawn stock available from world sources noting how further machining affects the finished dimensions
    Clarify the abbreviations and terms commonly used to describe planed timber stock and explain the differences
  3. Understand the main grading systems and how the grade affects end use
    Distinguish between commercial/appearance grading and strength grading systems
    State how the determined grade affects its end use
    Outline the main available grades in Europe, North America and South America 
    Summarise the uses for commercial grades of European Softwood
  4. Understand the relationship between timber specification and end use applications
    Compare the main commercial softwoods in terms of their physical properties and characteristics and how this relates to end use
    Explain why the softwoods origin, species, properties, characteristics, grade and price dictates suitability for various end use environments.


  1. Understand the origin and supply of hardwoods to the UK
    Identify the main types of hardwood forest in the world
    Identify the structure and character of each type of hardwood forest
    Name the major sources of supply of hardwoods to the UK market and the forms in which it is traded
  2. Understand the main aspects of hardwood specification
    Describe the features relevant when specifying hardwoods. Including dimensions, moisture content and grades
    Outline the methods available for the grading of hardwoods
  3. Understand the relationship between end use and timber species
    Specify timbers for given purpose, ensuring the timber properties are suitable for the end use environment
    Compare the properties of five distinctive groups of hardwoods, based on their geographical origin, colour or density
    Comment on the properties of important hardwoods


How is the course assessed?

The course is assessed through a formal written examination lasting one and a half hours.  You should take this exam as part of PIABC's main examination series in either June or November and you should sit the exam once you have completed your workbooks.  The exam is based on the learning outcomes and assessment criteria set out in the course specification by the awarding body. The whole course represents a study time of 120 hours, of which 12 should be guided learning with others. This is a Certificate with a credit value of 12.

How much does the course cost?

Our course fee is £440 (+VAT at 20% where applicable) and there is an additional fee of £125 (VAT free) to register you with the awarding body, PIABC.

This makes the total cost including VAT £653.

IOM3 members and subscribers to our Business Partner Programme are entitled to a discount of 10% on the course fee.


Register to study our distance learning course leading to the Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application qualification from PIABC.