Career Profile: Tool and Die Maker
Have you ever started on a project and then realized that you needed some extra tools? Maybe you were cutting a piece of metal for a railing and then realized that you needed a stronger saw. Or maybe you were working on a birdhouse and you discovered that you needed a different hammer or that you hadn’t measured the size quite right. You need the kind of thing that a tool and die maker can give to you.
Tool and die makers work with machines to help the manufacturing process run smoothly. Sometimes, this work involves making dies or molds for making plastic cups and other products, but it can include much more than that. People working in this trade are considered to be skilled artisans because they make special tools, metal patterns, fixtures, and gauges using different materials such as metal and plastics. They do repairs on broken tools and might also modify a tool or mold so that it can be used for a new purpose.
The work that tool and die makers do is closely related to other trades, such as mold maker. However, the work usually involves custom-made objects rather than mass-produced ones. Suppose that a company wanted to sell a very special type of tool for people working with a new type of metal. A tool and die maker would have to decide how to make that tool strong enough to cut through the metal but light enough for people to hold and to use. This type of work involves math, science, and engineering, and you can already start to study some of these fields. However, it also involves art, especially in the design part of the job. Taking fine arts courses can be a good way of learning that aspect of the job.
Getting a post-secondary degree in an area related to the work can be useful but is not necessary. Generally, tool and die makers have a combination of coursework from a college or trade school and on-the-job training. Some people might learn through a formal apprenticeship, but others learn the trade through work experience, which usually takes about four or five years. Most areas of Canada have a certification process, although it is not required unless a specific employer wants it. Generally, tool and die makers earn between $34,000 and $81,000, and jobs are available but not plentiful in manufacturing sectors such as metal product fabrication, machinery, and electronics.
One of the most important parts of being a tool and die maker is learning to be precise. Tiny measurements of a millimeter or less can sometimes affect how well a machine works. Because of this, tool and die makers need to be extremely careful to get things right. If you are a precise person and enjoy working with machines, this job might be something to pursue.
Government of Canada. “Unit Group: 7232 Tool and Die Makers.”
Payscale.com. “Tool and Die Maker Salary (Canada).” http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Tool_and_Die_Maker/Hourly_Rate.
Service Canada. “Tool and Die Makers.” http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/qc/job_futures/statistics/7232.shtml.
Wikipedia.org. “Tool and Die Maker.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool_and_die_maker.