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Engineering Machinist

Kaiwhakamahi Pūrere

Alternative titles for this job

Engineering machinists create, assemble and repair metal products by interpreting designs, measuring metals, and operating machines to cut and shape them.


Apprentice engineering machinists usually earn

$48K per year

Experienced engineering machinists usually earn

$48K-$103K per year

Source: Kelly Services, '2019 Salary Guide', March 2019.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an engineering machinist are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for engineering machinists varies depending on experience.

  • Apprentice engineering machinists may start on the training minimum wage or minimum wage with pay increasing as they learn skills or complete unit standards.
  • Qualified engineering machinists usually earn up to $80,000 a year.
  • Highly experienced engineering machinists who manage teams or specialise in making complicated products may earn up to $103,000.

Source: Kelly Services, '2019 Salary Guide', March 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Engineering machinists may do some or all of the following:

  • interpret engineering drawings and instructions
  • measure and mark up materials for cutting
  • operate machines to cut and shape the materials
  • weld parts together
  • test finished products
  • design tools and equipment using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • clean, maintain and repair machinery.

Skills and knowledge

Engineering machinists need to have:

  • knowledge of different metals and materials
  • the ability to operate specialised tools and machinery
  • the ability to read and interpret plans and drawings
  • knowledge of health and safety procedures
  • the ability to perform simple calculations
  • skills with computer-aided design (CAD) software and computerised numerical control (CNC) machines

Working conditions

Engineering machinists:

  • may work regular business hours or do shift work
  • work in workshops or factories
  • work in conditions that may be dirty, noisy, hot or cramped.

What's the job really like?

CNC Operator video

Cole Southam talks about life as a CNC operator – 2.08 mins

Hi, my name is Cole and I'm a CNC [Computerised Numerical Control] operator.
CNC machines are machines that change the size and shape of certain
materials to make a component.
The components that we make are for stuff like cars, planes, boats,
agriculture. This is the workshop. As you can see,
we have loads of CNC machines.
So this is a CNC machine.
So all these tools will take off material in a certain way to
achieve the shapes and sizes that we want.
So we're starting off with this part which has been machined on a other machine.
Now we are machining off this bit to create this side.
So you get the part that you're going to machine down, and you put it inside the
chuck and you close it so that it holds it.
And then all you have to do
is close the door and press Start. I normally just do
40 hours a week, but more can be done if wanted or needed.
So there's the first shift, which is a day shift, which starts at like 7
finishes at 3:30, and then there's an evening shift.
And once the machine is finished,
I take it out and I check it against a list of dimensions that I need to
So this is part of a high pressured gas line. I
completed NCEA Level 2, and then I left and then came here.
I just started as an operator. I was just a temporary worker at the start,
and then I was offered full-time.
There's no qualifications needed for being a CNC operator.
Very useful subjects in high school would be maths, definitely,
because you have to use numbers quite a bit. My favorite part of the job would
be the skills that I have learned.
Some of the skills you learn here are like how to measure things properly.
Good communication as well.
The culture's pretty good because you can have a laugh with everyone,
and quite often if you have a problem with something and you ask someone,
they will most likely be able to help you.

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become an engineering machinist. 

However, most employers prefer you to have, or be working towards a New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering – Trade (Level 4).  

In your last year of training you will specialise in one of:

  • fitting and machining
  • general engineering
  • machining
  • maintenance engineering
  • metal forming
  • toolmaking.

Apprentice Training NZ (ATNZ) employs, trains and places mechanical engineering apprentices. You can also get an apprenticeship directly through an employer. 

Competenz oversees mechanical engineering apprenticeships.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required to become an engineering machinist but maths, physics, English and construction and mechanical technologies to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Personal requirements

Engineering machinists need to be:

  • accurate, efficient and organised
  • safety-conscious
  • able to work well in a team
  • good at communicating
  • reliable and hardworking.

Useful experience

Useful experience for engineering machinists includes:

  • work using tools or machines
  • manual labour
  • welding.

Physical requirements

Engineering machinists need to:

  • be reasonably fit and strong 
  • have good hand-eye co-ordination and steady hands
  • have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • be comfortable working in confined spaces or at heights.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Engineering machinists in demand

Engineering machinists are in demand because:

  • a number of them are reaching retirement age – 32% of engineering machinists were over 55 years old in 2018
  • not enough people are training for the job.

According to the Census, 10,671 engineering machinists worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Engineering machinist on skill shortage list

The roles of metal fabricator, welder, and fitter-welder all appear on Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled engineering machinists from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Types of employers varied

Engineering machinists may work for:

  • specialist machining companies
  • engineering workshops
  • factories that make machines, equipment, appliances and plastic products
  • industrial sites such as milk powder factories.


  • Competenz website, accessed September 2020, (
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Manufacturing Fact Sheet', 25 March 2020, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Monthly Labour Market Fact Sheet', 6 August 2020, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Engineering machinists may progress to work:

  • as supervisors or managers
  • in product design or technical sales.

Engineering machinists usually specialise in one of the following roles:

CNC Operator
CNC operators program computers to make metal parts at a very fine level of detail.
Fitter and Turner
Fitters and turners make parts for factory machines and equipment.
Fabricators cut, bend and weld together sheets of metal to make metal products.
General Engineer
General engineers do a wide range of maintenance work, including welding and fabrication.
Machining Engineer
Machining engineers make parts that require a high level of precision. They use a mix of computer, machine and manual skills.
Metal Casting Engineer
Metal casting engineers produce parts from molten metal.
Maintenance Engineer
Maintenance engineers maintain machinery and production lines in factories.
Toolmakers make dies (which press shapes out of metal) and moulds (which can be filled with liquid metal). These are used to make everyday items.
An engineering machinist in protective clothing operates a machine in an engineering workshop

Engineering machinists create, assemble and repair metal products

Last updated 27 March 2024