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Metal Worker

Kaimahi Maitai

Alternative titles for this job

Metal workers make patterns and moulds for metal castings, heat and hammer metal into shape, and repair metal parts and equipment.

Pay

Metal workers usually earn

$17-$29 per hour

Source: Competenz, 2017

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a metal worker are poor for those wanting to enter the role, but good for those with experience.

Pay

Pay for metal workers varies depending on experience, specialisation and employer.

  • Apprentices usually start on the training or adult minimum wage. Their pay increases as they pick up skills or complete unit standards.
  • Qualified or experienced metal workers usually earn between $18 and $29 an hour. Overtime payments may increase their earnings.

Source: Competenz, 2017. 

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

What you will do

Metal workers may do some or all of the following:

  • read, interpret and create design drawings
  • build plugs (plastic replicas), and then produce patterns from materials such as wood, fiberglass and metal
  • make moulds
  • use new technology such as 3D printing and CNC pattern making 
  • heat and melt metal and pour it into moulds or hammer and cut it to shape
  • remove castings from moulds when they have cooled
  • inspect, test and repair metal castings
  • temper, harden, polish and coat the final metal product.

Skills and knowledge

Metal workers need to have knowledge of:

  • metals, woods, clays, plastics and resins
  • technical plans and drawings
  • casting 
  • sands, paints and coatings used in moulding
  • the use and care of metal working equipment.

Working conditions

Metal workers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work overtime to meet deadlines
  • work in industrial workshops, or ferrous (iron) or non-ferrous (aluminium and brass) foundries
  • often work in hot, noisy and dusty conditions.

What's the job really like?

Des Hansen

Des Hansen

Metal Worker

Des Hansen began his career as a truck driver, but embarked on a metal working apprenticeship after deciding he needed a change.

Now 20 years into his career, Des works as a moulding supervisor at a foundry in the South Island. He and his team cast a variety of products such as engine blocks, alloys, irrigation fittings for underground water mains and compressor components.

"We mainly use steel, cast iron, ductile iron and aluminium here. The most we can cast is about one tonne, but you need some pretty substantial sand moulds to hold that. The chemically bonded sands are pretty durable though - when they set they're just like concrete."

All the hard work's worth it

Des admits that he works in some pretty tough conditions. "It's a heavy job and you definitely have to be energetic. Having strength and stamina is really important."

But he's quick to point out that the job has its up-sides too.

"It's pretty hard to describe a typical day here because it varies all the time, and every day presents a new challenge. It's just brilliant.

"The best thing is seeing a big, tricky casting going out the door and knowing you've accomplished something."

Entry requirements

To become a metal worker you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Metal Casting – Technology (Level 4) through Competenz.

Secondary education

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include maths, English, science, construction and mechanical technologies, processing technologies, design and visual communication, physics, chemistry, or Level 1 and Level 2 engineering unit standards.

 

 

 

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

Farrier

To become a farrier you need a National Certificate in in Equine (Farriery) (Level 4), which is gained through on-the-job experience and by attending block courses.

The three-year apprenticeship is run by the New Zealand Farriers Association, but places are extremely limited and depend on trainees being taken on by an approved and qualified farrier.

Personal requirements

Metal workers need to be:

  • creative
  • accurate and patient
  • good at making calculations
  • well organised
  • safety-conscious, and able to follow instructions
  • able to work well independently and as part of a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for metal workers includes:

  • foundry work
  • work experience in an industrial workshop
  • work with plastics, wood and metals.

Physical requirements

Metal workers need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). They also need to be reasonably fit, strong and healthy.

Find out more about training

Competenz
0800 526 1800 - info@competenz.org.nz - www.competenz.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Decline in metal manufacturing limits opportunities

Chances of getting entry-level work as a metal worker are poor because:

  • some metal working companies have reduced staff and outsourced work to countries where production costs are lower
  • metals and metal products exports have flattened off due to increased international competition
  • closure of some engineering companies, such as A & G Price in Thames, which employ foundry workers.   

Increase your chances of getting an apprenticeship

Although there are fewer entry-level positions available, a small number of apprentices are still taken on each year.

You can increase your chances of getting an apprenticeship by:

  • having some mechanical engineering or labouring experience
  • showing an interest and approaching employers directly.   

Demand good for experienced metal casting workers

However, demand for experienced metal casting workers is good. This is because:

  • many metal casting workers are nearing retirement, and experienced metal casting workers are needed to replace them
  • many employers can't afford to train new staff - so when vacancies arise, they're likely to look for staff who require the least training
  • the construction sector boom, especially in Auckland and Christchurch, may stimulate demand for experienced metal workers.

As a result, metal casting trades worker appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled metal workers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Employers varied for metal workers

Employers of metal workers include:

  • foundries
  • specialist tool making and machining companies
  • industrial machinery and equipment manufacturers
  • domestic appliance manufacturers
  • metal extrusion companies 
  • metal forging companies 
  • manufacturers of other metal products.

Sources

  • Ferguson, P, mechanical engineering product development, Competenz, Careers Directorate - Tertiary Education Commission interview, August 2017. 
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', 25 June 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'The New Zealand Sectors Report 2014', (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Stuff website, 'A hundred jobs lost as Thames A&G Price goes into liquidation', July 26, 2017. (www.stuff.co.nz).  

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

Progression and specialisations

Metal workers may progress into supervisory or sales roles, or start their own foundries.

They usually specialise in an area such as:

Blacksmith
Blacksmiths shape metal by heating and hammering it. They produce or repair metal articles.
Electroplater
Electroplaters coat metal articles, and coat articles made of other materials with a film of metal.
Farrier
Farriers inspect, trim and shape the hooves of horses, as well as making and fitting horseshoes.
Metal Casting Worker
Metal casting workers produce original patterns and moulds that are used to make metal castings.
Metal Polisher
Metal polishers polish metals to give them smooth, reflective or other finishes.
A metal worker melting metal over a hot flame

A metal worker heating and melting metal in a furnace

Last updated 8 February 2019