Machinists produce precision components from scratch using both traditional methods and high-tech equipment.

Careers information

What do they do?

Machinists are able to manufacture precision componentry from engineering materials using a wide range of machining and hand processes.

As part of their job, machinists make metal parts utilising machine tools like lathes, milling machines, and machining centres. Normally parts will be made in large volumes, but precision machinists also make small quantities of unique or special parts. In order to make products that hold to strict specs, machinists must rely on their knowledge and understanding of the materials’ properties while utilising their skills and abilities in combination with machine tools.

Typical day

Normally an 8 hour day; sometimes working longer maybe required. Each day can be quite different; fitting and machining work is varied and can include the assembly, alignment and machining of components, plus installation of machines, hydraulic or pneumatic control systems. Using tools like lathes, milling machines, machining centres and CNC machines, you could be making componentry in bulk or making small quantities of unique or special parts.

Does this sound like you?

Study areas

• English or Media or History

• Maths or Accounting or Economics

• Sciences or Workshop Technologies

• Computing / ICT / Information Management


• Good at precision work

• Good literacy and numeracy

• Confidence with IT, computers, technology

• Good work habits / time management

Helpful experience

• Making or fixing things

• Working with machinery

• Working with computers

Preferred work environments

• Inside (workshop or plant)

• Different places from time to time

Career Pathway

School Entry level jobs Advancing jobs Senior jobs

Ideally, NCEA Level 2 passes in:


Science (Physics)

Technology (Metal Work)


Machining Engineer

Fitting and Assembly Work

Machine Shop

Fitter and Turner

CNC Programmer / Operator

Manufacturing Engineer

Specialist Engineer

Engineering Supervisor

Leading Hand

Workshop Supervisor

Welding Supervisor


Site Supervisor

Business Manager

Business Owner

Unit/Achievement standards in schools Apprenticeship Higher learning Higher learning

How much could I earn?

Icn Money

2 years experience

$42k - $52k


Icn Money

5 years experience

$53k - $80k

What do we offer?

  • We partner with members of your industry to help recruit and build talented employees. This support includes promoting careers in your industry, identifying potential apprentices, and encouraging work placements.
  • We also ensure your industry’s qualifications continue to meet needs, support industry events like conferences, competitions and graduations and regularly celebrate your learners’ success.
  • When apprentices enrol, we assign them a Competenz account manager. Our account managers understand the industry and the skills learners and businesses need to gain.

Click here for more details on the Careers NZ website.

National qualifications

The Machining strand is for those employed in enterprises where the emphasis is on precision machining of components. These enterprises typically employ sophisticated CNC mills and lathes to produce engineering components to high degrees of tolerance and finish.

It is intended to provide training for people in an occupation traditionally referred to as Precision Machinists.

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.