How To Become A Machinist In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become CNC machinists in Australia.


Are you physically fit and want a hands-on job working with machines? If yes, you can consider a career as a Machinist.


Machinists install various mechanically controlled and computer-driven machine tools to prepare precision metal parts and tools for engineering and manufacturing purposes.


To become and work as a Machinist, you need a Certificate III in engineering - mechanical trade. It is part of a traineeship. You will learn how to work on various machines and work-related health and safety procedures.


This blog discusses the job requirements, essential skills, education, courses, earnings (salary), what they do, and job prospects of a machinist to help you make an informed career decision.



1. Who Are Machinists?


Machinists use specialist machine tools and machinery to design unique custom-built metallic pieces. They are highly skilled at reading blueprints and instructions to create work parts that fulfil precise requirements.


They are responsible for operating, repairing, and maintaining production equipment to ensure the products correspond with specifications, quality, and technical standards.


Machinists work on small-sized components such as nuts, screws, bolts, and larger pistons for hydraulic systems.



2. What Tools Do Machinists Use?


A machinist uses the following tools to perform general machining or custom bespoke machining in industrial and commercial workplaces:


  • Machine tools

  • Power Tools

  • Callipers

  • Hand tools

  • Water cutting machines

  • Lasers

  • Drills and drilling machines

  • Grinders

  • Wire electrical discharge machines

  • Water Jets

  • Calculators

  • Rulers

  • Edge Finders

  • Milling machines

  • Lathes

  • Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) systems


In addition to these tools, machinists work with metal, wood, ceramics, rubber, plastics, glass, and composites.



3. Duties Of A Machinist/CNC Machinist


  • Use blueprints, specifications, sketches, or computer-aided design files to determine the correct material, machine setting, method, and sequence of operations. 

  • Use tools to measure, compute, amend, and cut materials as per the technical brief

  • Program CNC machines with data

  • Use specialist machining tools to measure materials

  • Use CNC machinery for large-scale automated production.

  • Align, fit, and adjust workpieces and cutting tools 

  • Choose the right speed of machines for varying operations.

  • Perform preliminary test runs to check the production meets the desired standards.

  • Turn, shape, grind, and mill machine parts to specifications

  • Assess completed work parts as per quality, safety, and technical standards.

  • Configure and operate various CNC machine tools. These include lathes, milling machines, borers, grinding machines, shapers, presses, and drills to produce bulk components that meet the standard and specifications.

  • Regularly examine the working condition of CNC machinery to diagnose faults and perform necessary machine maintenance tasks.

  • Report safety-related issues to management 

  • Attend safety and production training

  • Perform mechanical and visual assessment of manufactured parts to ensure they meet the client's specifications

  • Carry out mechanical and dimensional testing when required 

  • Fit newly created metal parts into products 

  • Assemble and sub-assemble metal parts to produce equipment and machines

  • Use an accuracy measuring instrument to check manufactured assembled metal parts for precision and perfect fit. 

  • Use machining tools to create metal castings and stock to acceptable tolerances to press, shape, grind, cut, plane, drill, and bore metal.

  • Cut, bend and set up hydraulic and pneumatic pipes and lines.

  • Create pattern mechanisms to monitor the operation of textile machines 

  • Coordinate with engineers, QA assurance, senior machinists, and the management to ensure the resultant work parts are high in quality and as per industry standards



4. Machinist Skills For Success


Here are the skills that you require to work and excel as a machinist in Australia:


  • Positive attitude

  • Willing to work with others 

  • Customer-centric

  • Quality-focused 

  • Self-starter attitude

  • Strong maths skills

  • Able to comprehend engineering drawings and instructions

  • Excellent attention to detail

  • Manual dexterity

  • Detail-oriented 

  • Excellent analytical skills

  • Physical stamina

  • Good knowledge of metals, materials, and metalworking processes

  • Good concentration

  • Working knowledge of CAM programming, computerized measuring machines, specialist machinery, and CNC machine tools

  • Mechanical skills to operate hand tools, power tools, and machine tools

  • Comfortable performing repetitious movements

  • Able to work to high standards

  • Able to work independently and as part of a team

  • Effective communication skills

  • Complex problem-solving abilities

  • Collaborative spirit

  • Able to work unsupervised



5. Relevant Qualifications for Machinists in Australia


To work as a Machinist in Australia, you must complete a Fitter and Turner trade certificate, such as a Certificate III in engineering - mechanical trade. This course is often part of an apprenticeship.


To become and work as a CNC Machinist, you must hold a Fitter and Turner trade certificate and have a minimum of 5 years of work experience in toolmaking or an engineering environment.


A good understanding of metals and plastic is beneficial. Experience in welding and calibrating micrometres and callipers are valued to work in this profession.



6. Steps To Become Machinist In Australia


If you are interested in making a career as a machinist, then follow the below steps:



Step 1: Complete Relevant Education


You do not need a university education to become a Machinist. However, a degree in engineering or a similar subject can help you gain the fundamental knowledge and necessary job skills before applying for positions.


Some of the good options to consider are:




Step 2: Obtain Work Experience And Apprenticeships


Get trained as a machinist as part of an apprenticeship or work in an entry-level position in an engineering or manufacturing environment. It will help you develop the necessary machinist skills and find better job opportunities.


Completing a relevant and recognized VET qualification can help you qualify for an entry-level machinist position. Many training institutes offer machinist certification programs as apprenticeship programs. Some of these include:


  • Certificate II in Engineering

  • Certificate III in Engineering - Toolmaking Trade

  • Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade



Step 3: Find A Machinist Job


You can start applying for entry-level machinist jobs with a relevant VET qualification. 


Many employers provide on-the-job training during this period to train the employees on the safe and effective use of the required machinery and equipment.



Step 4: Specialize And Advance Your Career


Machinists can keep expanding their knowledge and skills to keep themselves updated with new industry developments and trends. 


It will help them master new techniques and equipment. Experienced machinists can identify a niche such as research, military, aircraft, or automotive machining and specialize in it.



7. How To Get A Skilled Visa As A Metal Machinist?


Metal Machinists who want to migrate to Australia do not need to hold a Metal Machinist qualification. However, they must complete the mandatory Metal Machinist skills assessment


It is to check whether the Metal Machinist possesses the necessary skills to work in this role in Australia. It enables them to apply for a visa to stay in Australia.


Those who complete the assessment are issued the Australian Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade. This is a mandatory requirement to seek employment upon arriving in Australia.


There are two Metal Machinist skills assessment stages:


  • In the first stage, the assessing authority checks your documents, such as your resume, payslips, references, photos, and relevant qualifications, to confirm that you are a Metal Machinist.


  • The second stage comprises a one-to-one technical interview with a qualified Australian Metal Machinist over Zoom or Skype.


Those with trade-related qualifications must have at least three years of work experience. In other cases, you need at least five years of work experience and at least one year of work experience as a Metal Machinist out of the last three years.


You must be 18 and 45 years old to apply for the skill assessment to obtain a skilled Australian visa. Your Australian Metal Machinist skills assessment's validity is three years from its issuance date. However, your Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade has lifetime validity.



8. Relevant Machinist Courses In Australia



Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade


This entry-level qualification gives you the fundamental knowledge and skills to work as a machinist in the mechanical engineering trade. You can do the course as an Australian machinist apprenticeship that combines training with paid work.


The 4-year course qualifies you to work in the engineering industry in many roles. You can undertake it with two specialist streams, fitting and machining. The course gives a basic understanding of the following areas:


  • Undertaking fitting

  • Design

  • Assembly

  • Fabrication

  • Set-up

  • Alteration

  • Testing

  • Fault finding

  • Commissioning 

  • Maintenance and servicing of mechanical equipment

  • Mechanical and thermal cutting

  • Toolmaking 

  • Mechatronics 

  • Shaping and joining metal

  • Using machine tools, fluid power systems, computer-controlled equipment, computer numeric (CNC) controlled machine tools and computer-aided design.

  • Workplace safety



Do you want to know how to become a machinist apprentice? You can consider completing this CNC machinist course in any of the following Australian Training institutes:


  • TAFE QLD (Available as Apprenticeship)



  • Victoria University

  • Federation University



Certificate III in Engineering - Toolmaking Trade


This apprenticeship qualification equips you with engineering skills to perform toolmaking trade works, such as creating, modifying, and maintaining tooling. 


The course prepares you to work in the roles of a Toolmaker, Fitter, or Machinist within engineering, metal, manufacturing, and associated industries.


The fitter machinist coursework comprises a combination of theory and practical sessions that trains you in the following areas:


  • Technical drawings

  • Engineering measurements

  • CNC machining

  • Mechanical maintenance 

  • Overhaul techniques

  • Marking out techniques

  • Communication and planning skills

  • Safe working practices within WHS regulations



9. Work Conditions For Machinists In Australia


Machinists in Australia usually work within a manufacturing plant, workshop, tool rooms, research facilities, industrial facilities, factories, ships, or even on military bases operating and supervising the operation of the machines. 


The job may require prolonged standing, bending, repetitious movements, lifting machines of 25 to 30 pounds regularly by hand, or using mechanical hoists.


Machinists must wear safety gear such as harnesses, face masks, hard hats, overalls, boots, earplugs, and eye protection goggles. They work in sterile conditions under high noise. Machinists generally work a standard number of hours a week. They also work overtime and shifts to meet production schedules and deadlines.


With around 93% of machinists employed full-time, there are lesser part-time opportunities. Full-time workers work 49 hours per week which is higher than the industry's average of 44 hours.


The average age of workers in this profession is 40 years, with only 1% of workers being female. This shows that the occupation is best suited for aspiring male machinists.



10. Where Do Machinists Work In Australia?


CNC Machinists work in the manufacturing, medical, automotive, mining, and motorsport industries. 


Based on the Job portals, the following job roles are available for a qualified machinist:


  • Machinist

  • Manual Machinist

  • Metal Fabricator

  • Wood Machinist

  • Printing Machinist

  • Metal Machinist (First Class)

  • Fitter Machinist/Valve Technician

  • Boilermaker

  • Tool and Die Maker 

  • Industrial Manufacturing Machinist

  • Onsite Machinist

  • Collaboration Tool-Tech Lead

  • Fitter - Metal

  • Fitter and Turner

  • Fluid Power Mechanic

  • Maintenance Mechanic

  • Mechanical Fitter

  • Toolmaker

  • Plant Mechanic



A Qualified CNC Machinist Can Take on The Following Roles:


  • CNC Operator

  • CNC Machinist 

  • CNC Turning Machinist

  • CNC Programmer

  • CNC Lathe or Vertical Milling Machinist

  • CNC & Sheet Metal Pricing Estimator


You can find many machinist jobs in Australia that offer sponsorships.



Experienced Machinist can Advance Their Learning To Specialise in The Following Areas:




11. Job Outlook For Machinists In Australia


As manufacturers rapidly invest in new equipment, innovative production techniques and product designs, they rely on experienced machinists to accomplish the same. Machinists in Australia are needed to install, monitor, and upkeep the automated systems and upgrade them.


The Machinist's occupation has grown over the past five years in Australia. Queensland and Western Australia are the two states with the highest number of workers. The government projects the demand for workers to stay the same for the coming years.



12. How Much Does A Machinist Earn In Australia?


The salary of a machinist varies based on their qualification, experience, location, and type of employer. The average machinist salary in Australia is AU$57,617, equivalent to an hourly wage of AU$25.34. The weekly machinist salary is $2,062 in Australia.


The average CNC machinist Salary in Australia is $96,179 or equivalent to $37.87 per hour.



Machinist Salary Based on Experience


  • Entry-level Machinist (< 1-year experience) earns AU$21.01

  • Early career Machinist (1 to 4 years of experience) earns AU$23.32

  • Mid-career Machinist (5 to 9 years of experience) earns AU$25.70

  • Experienced Machinist (10 to 19 years of experience) earns AU$27.46



Machinist Salary Based on Location


  • Perth WA $97,601 per year

  • Sydney NSW $85,110 per year

  • Wetherill Park NSW $75,084 per year

  • Dandenong VIC $65,335 per year

  • Carrum Downs VIC $64,366 per year

  • Brisbane QLD $60,702 per year

  • Melbourne Western Suburbs VIC $60,694 per year

  • Melbourne VIC $56,378 per year



13. Conclusion


To be a Machinist is a physically demanding yet rewarding profession that offers plenty of opportunities to grow and specialize. 


If you enjoy manual work and like producing items to specific specifications and quality standards, complete the Certificate III in Engineering - Toolmaking course and become a professional machinist.


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