Career Profile: Machinist

Career Profile: Machinist

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Machines are part of all of our lives, but some people make a career of working with them. Tradespeople who set up or operate machines like lathes, milling machines, and grinders are called machinists. If you can work with very precise measurements and handle different machines safely, the job of machinist is a good choice for you.

Like many other people in the trades, machinists often work closely with the construction industry. This means that much of the work happens in spring, summer, and fall when the weather is warm enough for people to be outside for long periods of time. Still, the machinists themselves normally don’t have to work outside and deal with the weather. Most machinists work in factories, where they produce the metal parts that other people use for their work. Machinists can also work with car parts and might even help with assembling vehicles.

Being a machinist requires a certain amount of physical strength and endurance. Lifting heavy objects is often part of the job, and standing in one place to work on a machine is also often necessary, although some machinists might be able to move around. Many machinists who work in large factories have to do shift work, meaning that they might have to work early in the morning or late at night, or even all the way through the night.

Starting wages for machinists are close to $13 per hour and can rise to almost $27 per hour. Many machinists leave the trade after fifteen or twenty years to become millwrights, tool and die makers, or maintenance planners, but others stay until retirement. Becoming a machinist usually requires an apprenticeship where people spend about 720 hours in classroom training and 7280 hours in training on the job. Normally, this takes about four years, and it can sometimes start in high school. If you are interested, you can check out schools like the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, or any other trade school in Canada for specific requirements.

Working as a machinist requires mathematical skills and an ability to read blueprints. You can already start to prepare for a career as a machinist by taking math courses and also working on your ability to read complicated diagrams and other documents. Writing skills can also be important, since you might need to write reports for supervisors or clients. If you work on your own or for a small business, you might have to deal with customers, and developing your ability to work with people is also important. Learning to estimate costs, write out bills, and keep records can also be useful in this kind of work.

Machinists can decide to specialize in certain types of machines, or they might decide to work in repairs instead of operating the machines themselves. Repairing machines can be a good career choice, although the work is likely to be less regular and predictable than for other machinists. In either case, the job of a machinist can be a good choice for people who like to work with their hands.


Career Profiles. “Machinist.” http://www.careerprofiles.info/machinist-career.html.

College of Trades. “Machinist.” https://www.collegeoftrades.ca/wp-content/uploads/General-Machinist.pdf.

MacLeod, Meredith. “Hot Jobs: Here Are Canada’s Top 15 Employment Prospects for 2018.” https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/hot-jobs-here-are-canada-s-top-15-employment-prospects-for-2018-1.3790295.

Payscale Canada. “Average Machinist Hourly Pay.” https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Machinist/Hourly_Rate.

Work BC. “Machinists and Machining and Tooling Inspectors.” https://www.workbc.ca/Jobs-Careers/Explore-Careers/Browse-Career-Profile/7231

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