machinist jobs in canada

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machinist jobs canada
machinist jobs in canada
machinist jobs in canada

everything you need to know about being a machinist

If you are interested in learning one of the skilled trades, you might consider becoming a machinist. As a machinist, you need to be mechanically inclined, as you’ll be working with power machines, materials and specialized measuring equipment.

You’ll follow a set of blueprints or plans to cut or shape materials to precise sizes, producing parts that fit with other materials or machines. You could produce bolts, tools, pistons or cylinders for aircraft engines or other machines, all requiring precision measurements. You’ll need a good eye for detail and be comfortable working with numbers, computerized equipment and materials such as metal, wood or plastic.

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average machinist salaries in canada

Qualified machinist salaries are in the range of $19 to $36 per hour (around a $75,000 annual salary, at the top level), depending on your experience, skills and location. As an apprentice, you’ll start at a wage lower than a qualified machinist, but your pay will increase as you develop competency, skills and knowledge. 

You can strive for the highest wages by becoming certified and learning advanced skills, such as programming computers for computerized numeric control (CNC) machines.



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what machinist jobs entail

As a machinist, you’ll use your hands and tools to manufacture install, adjust or repair other machines or tools. You’ll operate drills, grinders, boring mills, and lathes. You’ll work in an industrial setting where there could be noise, dust or dirt and heat or cold. Your safety and the safety of others will be your highest priority. You’ll learn to apply all safety protocols and use protective equipment, such as a hard hats, eye protection, hearing protection, and safety shoes.

As a machinist you will likely work fulltime (40+ hours per week) though it's possible to work part-time as well. You could work during regular daytime hours or on a rotating shift. Manufacturing businesses often schedule shifts in the evenings or on weekends to ensure that expensive equipment is operating as many hours as possible. It's not uncommon for some jobs to schedule 12 hour shifts, but compensate with providing more days off. You'll most likely be reporting to a supervisor or a tooling inspector.

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your day to day work

Your tasks will vary depending on the type of machinist job you take. You may be a maintenance machinist repairing or making parts for other machines. Or you may be a production machinist producing large quantities of a particular item. In either case you will be:

  • making, fitting and assembling parts according to blueprints or drawings
  • setting up and adjusting machines for production runs
  • accurately estimating, calculating and measuring sizes and distances
  • operating power equipment such as saws, lathes, milling machines, metal cutters, drills and grinders
  • using hand tools such as hammers, pliers, and files
  • using specialized equipment for measurement, such as scales, calipers, depth gauges and dial test indicators
  • verifying the accuracy of dimensions and reporting deviations
  • troubleshooting, solving problems, and performing preventative maintenance
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where you can work

Machinists can work wherever there is manufacturing across Canada. Manufacturers of vehicles, auto parts, machinery, equipment, aircraft and steel producers all need qualified machinists. When the manufacturing sector is on the upswing there is hope for a corresponding increase in demand for machinists.

Although manufacturing growth has suffered declines in recent years, a recovery is now anticipated due to the weak Canadian dollar. Mid-size Ontario cities such as Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, London, St. Catharines and Windsor are experiencing growth in the manufacturing sector, with Montréal and Québec City also expecting gains. Opportunities also exist in western Canada in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, and Calgary.

In the last few years, the demand for CNC machinists in particular has grown. CNC machinists are trained to write code for computerized numeric control machines. General machinists should at least be able to follow code written by others and make small adjustments. However, CNC machinists who write programming code have improved job prospects and choices about where to work.

what you bring to the table

As a machinist in the skilled trades, you’ll be expected to work independently and produce highly accurate work. You’ll need powers of concentration and physical effort to accomplish your tasks. You’ll also need the following skills:

  • ability to read and interpret blueprints, specifications, and measurements
  • ability to do mathematical calculations
  • mechanical inclination and problem-solving ability
  • ability to do physical work and stand for long periods
  • manual dexterity and desire to work with hand and power tools
  • acute attention to detail and accuracy in following specifications
  • computer skills to program automated equipment

training and certifications

If you are thinking about becoming a machinist, you’ll need at least your high school graduation diploma. You should concentrate on courses in math, including geometry and trigonometry. If your school offers them, you should also take courses in blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting. Some community or technical colleges are now offering one or two-year certificate courses as pre-apprenticeship programs.

To become a fully qualified machinist, you must complete an apprenticeship program, usually taking about four years. You will earn as you learn because your apprenticeship will include a combination of work experience and college or industry courses. Once you have successfully completed your exams and hours of employment, you’ll become a machinist journeyperson.

where your career is headed

Throughout your career as a machinist, you’ll need to take additional training to update your skills as new machines and technologies are introduced. For example, the latest machines now use lasers, water jets, or electrified wires to cut materials.

Advances in computer technology have improved the precision and efficiency of a machinist job. If you do not already write computer code in your job as a machinist, you should consider learning this skill to qualify as a CNC machinist.

It’s also a good idea to operate a wide variety of machines to ensure you are keeping up with the latest trends. You might attain new skills and knowledge throughout your career from equipment manufacturers, on the job, or by attending upgrade courses at a technical school.

With every advance in your knowledge and skills, you will become more valuable to employers and may eventually consider becoming a tooling inspector, a supervisor or a teacher of apprentice machinists.

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