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Home » Estonian Qualifications Framework (EstQF)

Estonian Qualifications Framework (EstQF)

Creation of the Estonian Qualifications Framework (EstQF) started in 2005, when the minister of education and research established a broad-based working group with an assignment to analyse the first draft proposal of the European Qualification Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF), the possibilities to link Estonian 5-levels occupational qualifications framework to the EQF, and formulate suggestions about the development of the EstQF. 

The working group put forward the proposal of creating an 8-levels comprehensive national qualifications framework. The proposal was supported by the employers’ and employees’ organisations, by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Based on this agreement, another broad-based working group was established by the minister of education and research with the task to draft a new Occupational Qualifications Act, which would include also the EstQF.

An eight-level EstQF was established in 2008, with the Occupational Qualifications Act.


EstQF levels fan

Types of qualifications in EstQF

According to the Occupational Qualifications Act, the EstQF has 8 levels, the first of which is the lowest and the eighth is the highest. The descriptions of the qualification levels are identical with the EQF level descriptions. EstQF is a comprehensive framework, consisting of four sub-frameworks for:

  • general education qualifications;
  • VET qualifications;
  • higher education qualifications;
  • occupational qualifications.

The following table presents the results of assigning the EstQF levels to Estonian formal education qualifications, and levelling of some occupational qualifications.

Formal education qualifications Level Occupatonal groups and occupational qualifications
Basic education certificate based on simplified curriculum;


Basic education certificate;
VET certificate  level 2 (without basic education requirement)


Elementary workers
(Cleaner assistant...)
VET certificate level 3


Skilled workers, machine operators, Service and sales workers, Clerical support workers
(Logger, Baker, Carpenter, ...)
Upper secondary general education certificate;
VET certificate level 4 (upper secondary VET)


VET certificate level 5 (based on upper secondary education certificate)


Technicians and craft masters, front line managers, clerical workers
(Electrician, Construction Site Manager, Accountant, ...)
Bachelor's degree, Professional higher education certificate


Specialists, supervisors
(Energy auditor, Career Counsellor, ...)
Master's degree


Specialists, managers
(Diploma Engineer, ...)
Doctoral degree


Senior specialists, top managers
(Principal Architect, Chartered Engineer, ...)

Watch the animated video about the Estonian Qualifications Framework (in Estonian).

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