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Machinists (NOC 7231) may also be called:

  • automotive machinist
  • aviation machinist
  • general machinist
  • CNC machinist (computer numerical control)
  • machine shop inspector
  • machined parts inspector
  • machining and tooling inspectors

What Would I Do?

Machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to cut or grind metal, plastic or other materials to make or modify parts or products with precise dimensions. They use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and machining centres, to craft precision metal parts. Your duties can include:

  • read blueprints, written instructions, charts and tables
  • decide which machines to use to shape the piece, and in what order to use them
  • calculate dimensions and tolerances and mark raw pieces of metal to know where to cut or bore into them
  • make pieces using a variety of machines, including drills, lathes, and milling machines
  • perform precision machining operations such as sawing, turning, milling, boring, planing, drilling, precision grinding
  • verify dimensions of products using precision measuring instruments
  • fit and assemble machined metal parts and subassemblies using hand and power tools

Machining and tooling inspectors perform the following duties:

  • verify dimensions of machined parts or tooling using micrometers, verniers, callipers, height gauges, optical comparators, co-ordinate measuring machines (CMM) or other specialized measuring instruments
  • maintain, repair and calibrate precision measuring instruments such as dial indicators, fixed gauges, height gauges and other measuring devices

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for MachinistsCareer Cruising database (Profile for ‘Machinists).

Am I Suited For This Job?

Machinists must be mechanically inclined and have:

  • strong attention to detail
  • ability to communicate complicated technical ideas with precision and clarity
  • good physical mobility and ability to lift heavy objects
  • ability to handle production pressures calmly
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • math skills
  • problem-solving skills

Machinists

Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors usually work indoors in machine shops or manufacturing plants. The work environment can be noisy and dirty. Hazards include physical injuries due to machinery-related accidents, hearing damage from noise and sickness caused by exposure to toxic lubricants or coolants. The increased use of enclosed, automated equipment has reduced the risk of such injuries and removed much of the noise and dirt created in traditional machine shops and plants. Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors are required to stand for most of the work day and their work may involve repetitive tasks. These workers may be required to lift moderately heavy objects but modern shops and factories now employ autoloaders and overhead cranes that reduce lifting.

Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Machinists’), WorkBC Career Profiles 7231

What Are The Wages And Benefits?

In British Columbia, the average annual salary for machinists and machining and tooling inspectors ranges from $53,000 – $66,000. In BC’s regions, they can expect to make:

machinists hourly wages

Table from Job Bank Wage Report

Machinists who are employed full-time often receive benefits in addition to their wages. Benefits may include extended health coverage, paid sick days, and paid vacation time. Some machinists are members of trade unions, such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Union members have their wage rates and benefits negotiated for them by the union.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profiles 7231Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Machinists’).

What Is The Job Outlook In BC?

For the 2013-2015 projection period, employment opportunities will be fair for Machinists and Machining and Tooling Inspectors (NOC 7231) in British Columbia. Employment growth in this occupation is expected to be weaker than average. However, this will be partially offset by average proportions of workers retiring. In addition, there will be an average number of unemployed workers with experience in this occupation who may compete for available jobs.

Employment Outlook

Machining, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades (NOC 723)

employment outlook for machinists

Chart from WorkBC

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile, Job Bank Canada, Employment Outlook

How Do I Become a Machinist?

Machinist is an Inter-provincially recognized Red Seal trade. With a Red Seal, you can work in this trade anywhere in Canada.


Completion of secondary school is recommended, but not required.

Although trade certification is not mandatory to be a machinist in B.C., it will likely increase your job opportunities. You become certified by completing a four-year apprenticeship program.

Once you complete the apprenticeship program and successfully pass the Interprovincial Red Seal exam, you become certified as journeyperson. After passing the Interprovincial exam (the final exam for this trade), you also automatically have a Red Seal endorsement through BC’s Industry Training Authority (ITA).

If you have extensive experience working as a machinist you may also be certified through the challenge process. This includes completing 9,900 hours of work in the trade and successfully writing the Interprovincial Red Seal exam.

More information:

How Do I Find A Job?

Where would I work?

Machinists work for:

  • machinery, equipment, motor vehicle, automotive parts, aircraft and other metal products  manufacturing companies
  • machine shops
  • wood manufacturing and food processing plants, as well as in refineries

Finding Advertised Jobs

Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.

Online Job Postings

Finding “Hidden Jobs”

Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.

Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers

You can use company directories to produce lists of employers who employ machinists in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “machinists”** and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    **You can also try entering “machining” to find more company names
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies

Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.

Networking and the Hidden Job Market:

When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.

Volunteer opportunities

For additional tips see:

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.  Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

For more information see:

Where Can This Job Lead?

Many individuals start in entry-level positions, such as machine setters. Once in entry-level positions, these workers may then become machinist apprentices. Some workers may also begin as apprentices. Workers become certified machinists once they have completed an apprenticeship program. After several years of experience as a certified machinist, tool and die maker, or machining tool operator, workers may become machining and tooling inspectors.

Where Can I Find More Information?