Career Profile: General Machinist

Career Profile: General Machinist

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

In your home and school, and in almost every building you enter, you can find metal. It might be on doorknobs or window frames, and even on furniture, railings, and more. A general machinist is an important role of making these parts. If you enjoy working with your hands and helping with important aspects of construction, the job of general machinist might be a good choice.

General machinists work with machines to cut and shape metal. Normally, getting into this field requires a minimum of a high school education or the equivalent. Most people also go through an apprenticeship program that includes both in-school and on-the-job training and work experience. Usually, this apprenticeship takes about four years to complete. With the right training and experience, people can be well prepared for work in this trade.

In many parts of the country, general machinists are part of the Red Seal program. This certification is a program to ensure that standards are similar across Canada. A general machinist in British Columbia, for example, would have basically the same training and skills as one working in Ontario, Nova Scotia, or Manitoba. That way, it is easier for people in this trade to move from one part of the country to another.

Salaries for general machinists generally begin at $16 per hour or $34,000 per year and can rise to $35 per hour or $76,000 per year with experience. Working with loud and potentially dangerous machines can be strenuous and risky. Accidents are common, even for the most careful workers. As people age, they may be less able to manage the dangers, and they might decide to leave the trade when it becomes too difficult.

Certain characteristics help to make this trade easier. Attention to detail is important for doing the job well and avoiding mistakes. Standing at the machines for hours requires stamina. Also, carrying metal parts back and forth is easier with a degree of physical strength. Good vision with or without glasses is essential, and a good manual dexterity is also important. Clumsiness is a risk in this trade as it can potentially cause accidents.

Usually, general machinists work in manufacturing plants, where they might need to be able to repair machines as well as work with the cutting and shaping. In many cases, the labour is in large factories where general machinists are part of a larger process. Sometimes, however, people in this trade can work in smaller companies where they may spend much of their time alone.

Career prospects for general machinists vary, depending on the state of the economy and where the tradespeople live. Current job opportunities are only moderate, but retirement of older workers in the coming years could help open up jobs for new ones. Cities and large towns are most likely to have jobs available, but even a small town could have some opportunities.

Working as a general machinist is not always an easy job, but it can be a good choice for people who enjoy using their hands and helping with building construction. It might be right for you.



Glass Door. “Machinist Job Description.” https://www.glassdoor.ca/Job-Descriptions/Machinist.htm.

Job Bank. “General Machinist in Canada.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/16845/ca.

Ontario.ca. “General Machinist.” https://www.ontario.ca/page/general-machinist.

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

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