Precision instrument maker and repairer

What they do

Precision Instrument Makers and Repairers assemble, calibrate, install and overhaul mechanical precision instruments and equipment.

Repairing and maintaining watches, cameras, musical instruments, medical equipment, and other precision instruments requires a high level of skill and attention to detail. Some devices contain tiny gears that must be manufactured to within one one-hundredth of a millimetre of design specifications, and other devices contain sophisticated electronic controls.

Working conditions

Precision instrument repairers work under a wide array of conditions, from hot, dirty, noisy factories to well lit air-conditioned workshops, to the outdoors on fieldwork. Attention to safety is essential as the work sometimes involves dangerous machinery, toxic chemicals, or radiation. Due to the individualised nature of the work, supervision is fairly minimal. Medical equipment repairers must work in a patient environment, which has the potential to expose them to diseases and other health risks, but occupational injuries are relatively uncommon.

Piano and organ tuners must travel to the instruments being repaired. Often, these workers can adjust their schedules, allowing for second jobs as needed.

Tools and technologies

When machining new parts, workers often use a small lathe, a grinding wheel, and other metalworking tools. Additional tools may include:

  • Polishers and buffers
  • Gas torches
  • Lathes
  • Shears
  • Mallets
  • Precision screw drivers
  • Soldering irons
  • Multimeters; specialised software and computers designed to communicate with specific pieces of hardware
  • Electronic tools to repair and adjust equipment
  • Pneumatic, electrical and electronic test equipment and calibrating precision instruments
  • Jigs and fixtures, and hand tools to adjust and align parts and small balancing weights and tools 

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a precision instrument maker and repairer you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in electronics and communications, engineering tradesperson mechanical (fitter and machinist, first class machinist, or mechanical fitter), electrical instrumentation tradesperson or watch and clock repairing. The apprenticeships usually take 42 to 48 months to complete. All except for the watch and clock repairing apprenticeship, are available as school-based apprenticeships.

For more information regarding how best to enter this occupation, contact a reputable local business

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.

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