What they do
Metal machinists operate the equipment and machinery that is used to create metal tools and parts. They set up, maintain and operate the machines that cut and shape metal stock and castings, forming intricate, exact parts. They refer to detailed drawings and computer-aided design (CAD) systems to obtain the specifications for the job, calculate dimensions, measure and mark the metal and undertake the machine processes that create exact parts. They may also perform heat treatment processes on metals. Metal machinists work mostly in the metro area and in larger regional centres, creating parts for machines that are used in everything from mining to manufacturing and food production.
Specialisations include: Aircraft Machinist, Automotive Machinist, Metal Machine Setter, Metal Turner, Milling Machinist, Vertical Borer
Metal machinists work in factories, workshops and similar environments. Conditions can be dirty and noisy. They are often on their feet for long periods and their work may be repetitive. They may be required to maintain strict safety regulations.
Tools and technologies
Metal machinists use computer numerical control (CNC) machines, drilling, turning, boring, plating and milling machines, lathes and other hand tools. They work with metals such as brass and steel. They may also operate welding or brazing equipment, as well as precise measuring equipment that ensures accuracy and precision. Metal machinists need to wear safety gear such as goggles, gloves, boots and protective clothing.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a metal machinist you usually need to undertake an engineering tradesperson mechanical (first class machinist) apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship usually takes 42 to 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing