what is a machinist?

If you enjoy crafting useful items and working with your hands, consider becoming a machinist. You use computers and mechanical technology to create precision metal tools. You set up and operate various machine tools to grind metals and cut or modify parts to precise dimensions. Sometimes, you cut plastics and other materials to make them suit the parts of a machine.

You read or interpret sketches and computer-aided design files daily in order to understand the measurements of precision tools. You also set up tools and inspect machine parts to uphold the quality of the final product. At the end of the machining process, you smooth down any imperfections from the cutting process to ensure it meets the quality control standards.

As a machinist, you work in food processing plants, machinery companies and automotive production lines, among other kinds of manufacturing companies. Due to the precision required for machining processes, you should have exceptional attention to detail. Physical mobility is also important, as you frequently lift heavy objects and handle production requirements.

Would working as a machinist suit your attention to detail? Are you interested in working with your hands? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a machinist role.

machinist roles

average machinist salary

According to Job Bank, machinists in Canada receive a salary of $48,750 per year. This wage is equivalent to roughly $25 per hour. Entry-level positions attract a lower salary due to the minimal experience involved. The lowest-paying positions attract earnings of $42,900 yearly. With additional expertise, you earn $63,580 per year.

how to increase the salary of a machinist

As a machinist, your earnings depend on your experience and qualifications. Entry-level roles attract a lower salary due to minimal expertise and skills. Working additional years boosts your expertise and skills, increasing your earning potential. Specializing in a particular area of expertise also increases your earnings.

The industry you work in affects your earnings. Working as a machinist for an aircraft manufacturing company pays more than working for a metal manufacturing plant. The complexity of the duties in the industry warrants higher hourly rates. Working for a large company also increases your earning because they have more resources and can afford to pay higher salaries.

Working in large cities with major industries usually increases your salary potential due to the high demand for machinists. The region also influences your earnings. For instance, working in British Columbia or Alberta attracts a higher salary than a machinist working in Nova Scotia.

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types of machinists

Some of the types of machinists include:

  • automotive machinists: as an automotive machinist, you create or repair vehicle parts. You use machines to shape metals for repairs. You also resurface and renovate components. Since you work in the automotive industry, you create vehicle parts and enhance their performance.
  • computer numerical control (CNC) machinists: as a CNC machinist, you program machines to perform the required tasks. Your job involves maintaining and calibrating CNC equipment to meet the product specifications.
  • gear machinists: as a machinist, you perform repetitive machining operations. Using computer-controlled precision tools, you are involved in milling, turning and drilling machine parts.
  • maintenance machinists: you perform maintenance tasks on tools for cutting or grinding metal and modifying parts. You also clean the equipment and ensure correct calibrations to make quality parts.
Factory worker operating a column drill. African-American man wearing safety goggles. Primary color blue.
Factory worker operating a column drill. African-American man wearing safety goggles. Primary color blue.

working as a machinist

As a machinist, you set up and operate various machine tools. If you are interested in the role, check out the tasks and work environment of a machinist.


machinist skills and education

Some of the educational requirements of machinists in Canada include:

  • apprenticeship program: when you complete your secondary school studies, you can pursue your career as a machinist. Complete a four-year apprenticeship that involves on-the-job training and machinery courses. Additionally, you may be required to complete machining industry courses.
  • trade certification: to work as a machinist in Canada, you may need trade certification from a regulatory body. Machinist trade certifications are available but voluntary in all provinces and territories. For instance, in British Columbia, you should complete a certification course from the Industry Training Authority. Hence, find out if the occupation is regulated in your province and then determine the requirements to obtain certification.

competencies and characteristics of machinists

Some of the qualities of a machinist include:

  • knowledge of mechanics: as a machinist, you require extensive knowledge of mechanical processes, configurations and theories. Your knowledge of mechanics helps you interpret the contents of blueprints and technical drawings. Your deep understanding of machines improves your expertise in technical processes like laser cutting, drilling, and metal forming.
  • consistency: as a machinist, you are expected to maintain a high level of quality in your finished products. It is important to remain consistent with expected quality standards. Your ability to maintain the optimal performance of machines ensures that product standards are always met. Consistently learning helps you quickly adapt to ever-changing methodologies.
  • attention to detail: as a machinist, you need high-quality results to ensure the metal parts suit the intricate parts of the machines. You also require attention to detail to set the equipment and program or calibrate the machinery to ensure quality end products.
  • physical strength: as a machinist, the physical aspect of your role involves lifting heavy equipment. Physical stamina is also important, as you often stand for extended periods and conduct physically demanding tasks.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a machinist.


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