Toolmakers craft the tools that are essential for New Zealand’s industrial processes.

Careers information

What does it involve?

Toolmakers are trained in engineering skills and knowledge to make moulds, dies, gauges, jigs, tooling, press tooling, and fixtures for industrial processes. Many common household items such as aerosol cans and plastic bottles are produced from tooling. Tooling is typically used in sheet metal presses or injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion, and pressure die-casting operations.

Typical day

Normally an 8 hour day; sometimes working longer may be required. Work can include design and manufacturing moulds, dies or casts for mass-produced product containers (for example paint and aerosol cans, etc.) as well as designing and manufacturing one-off tools needed within an industry. You’ll learn CAD/CAM design programs, and also CNC or EDM machining using computers.

Does this sound like you?

Study areas

• English or Media Studies 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)



Career Pathway

School Entry level jobs Advancing jobs Senior jobs

Ideally, NCEA Level 2 passes in:


Science (Physics)

Technology (Metal Work)



Machine Shop

CNC Programmer / Operator

Research and Development Manufacturing

Specialist Toolmaker



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 help celebrate your learners’ success.

  • When apprentices enrol, we assign them a Competenz account manager. Our account managers understand the engineering industry and the skills learners and businesses need to gain.

Click here for more details on the Careers NZ website.

National qualifications

The Toolmaking strand is for those employed in enterprises making tooling, press tooling, moulds, dies, gauges, jigs, and fixtures for industrial processes. Tools are typically used in sheet metal presses, or in injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion, and pressure diecasting operations. The making of these tools requires knowledge of tool operation and Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) techniques, and may involve machining using CNC machining centres or electro discharge machines (EDM).

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.