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Engineering Machinist

Kaiwhakamahi Pūrere

Alternative titles for this job

Engineering machinists use machines to cut and shape precision parts and equipment. They create, install, maintain and repair metal products, including machinery and equipment in factories.


Apprentice engineering machinists usually earn

$39K-$51K 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 minimum training wage or minimum wage. Apprentices' pay increases as they learn skills or complete unit standards.
  • Qualified engineering machinists usually earn $48,000 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:

  • study and interpret engineering drawings and instructions
  • design tools and equipment using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • decide on suitable materials and working methods
  • measure and mark out materials for cutting
  • set and operate machines to cut and shape the materials
  • check measurements and weld parts together
  • test finished products.

Engineering machinists working in maintenance may also:

  • carry out maintenance checks on machines and diagnose faults
  • clean and repair machines and their parts
  • manufacture and install new machinery.

Skills and knowledge

Engineering machinists need to have:

  • knowledge of different metals and machinery
  • the ability to read and interpret plans and drawings
  • practical skills to operate tools and computer-controlled machinery
  • knowledge of construction methods and materials
  • skills with computer-aided design (CAD) software and computerised numerical control (CNC) machines
  • welding skills.

Working conditions

Engineering machinists:

  • work regular business hours in engineering workshops, or rotating shifts such as two days and two nights on, then four days off in a factory running 24 hours a day
  • work in workshops or factories
  • work in conditions that may be dirty, noisy, hot or cramped.

Entry requirements

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

However, most employers prefer you to have either:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Trade) Level 4, which is the new qualification 
  • or National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Trade) Level 4, which will be replaced by the New Zealand Certificate.

In your last year of training you specialise in one of the following strands – Fitting and Machining, General Engineering, Machining, Maintenance Engineering, Metal Forming or Toolmaking.

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

The Competenz Industry Training Organisation oversees mechanical engineering apprenticeships. 

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, physics, 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:

  • very accurate and patient
  • able to follow instructions
  • responsible and safety-conscious
  • good communicators
  • able to make good judgements
  • able to work well independently, and as part of a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for engineering machinists includes work:

  • using hand tools
  • with plastics, wood or metals, and woodwork and metalwork machinery
  • in an industrial workshop
  • as a labourer
  • using welding and sheet metal.

Physical requirements

Engineering machinists need:

  • to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong as they may do heavy lifting
  • good hand-eye co-ordination and steady hands
  • good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • to be comfortable working in confined spaces and at heights as they may need to climb ladders and crawl around machinery.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - info@competenz.org.nz - www.competenz.org.nz
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, (www.competenz.org.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Manufacturing Fact Sheet', 25 March 2020, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Monthly Labour Market Fact Sheet', 6 August 2020, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • 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 a supervisor or manager role, or move into areas such as product design, management or technical sales.

Engineering machinists specialise in one of the following roles:

Fitter and machinist
Fitters and machinists make machine parts for factories.
Machinists make precision parts.
General engineer
General engineers carry out a wide range of maintenance work including welding and fabrication.
Maintenance Engineer
Maintenance engineers maintain and fix machinery and production lines in factories.
Toolmakers make specialised tools, and moulds and casts (shapes which are filled), and dies (used to press out shapes) that are used to produce metal or plastic products.
Metal Former
Metal formers make products from molten metal.
A female apprentice watches as an older worker programmes a CNC machine

Engineering machinists may work with CNC machines programmed to control tools such as lathes

Last updated 21 September 2020