Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors (NOC 7231)

About this job

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.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career.

People in this occupation:

  • inspect machined parts and tooling in order to maintain quality control standards
  • work for machinery, equipment, motor vehicle, automotive parts, aircraft and other metal products manufacturing companies and for machine shops
  • work in wood manufacturing and food processing plants, as well as in refineries
  • have an interest in mechanization
  • must have a strong attention to detail and be able to communicate complicated technical ideas with precision and clarity
  • need to have good physical mobility, as well as be able to lift heavy objects and handle production pressures calmly
Common job titles
  • experimental machinist
  • gear tester-machinist
  • inspector, aircraft propeller / turbine
  • machinist, master / precision
  • machinist, model maker / prototype
  • machinist, mould and core / mouldmaking
  • experimental machinist
  • gear tester-machinist
  • inspector, aircraft propeller / turbine
  • machinist, computer numerical control
  • machinist, electrical
  • machinist, firearms modeller / ballistics

Duties

Although part of the same occupational group, the main duties of machinists and machining and tooling inspectors are different from each other.

Machinists:

  • read and interpret engineering drawings, blueprints, charts and tables or study sample parts to determine machining operations to be performed, and plan best sequence of operations
  • compute dimensions and tolerances and measure and lay out work pieces
  • set up, operate and maintain a variety of machine tools, including computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools to perform precision, machining operations such as sawing, turning, milling, boring, planning, drilling, precision grinding and other operations
  • fit and assemble machined parts and subassemblies using hand and power tools
  • verify dimensions of products for accuracy and conformance to specifications using precision measuring instruments
  • may set up and program machine tools for use by machining tool operators

Machining and tooling inspectors:

  • verify dimensions of machined parts or tooling using micrometers, verniers, callipers, height gauges, optical comparators, coordinate 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
  • report deviations from specifications and tolerances to supervisors, maintain inspection records and complete inspection reports

Work environment

Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors typically work 40 hours per week. However, some overtime may be required to meet production schedules. Some larger operations require shift work.

Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors typically work indoors in machine shops or manufacturing plants. The work environment can be noisy and dirty, and workers may also be exposed to unpleasant odours.

Hazards include physical injuries due to possible 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. Safety procedures (from the WorksafeBC Act) are strictly enforced to reduce potential injuries.

Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors are required to stand for most of the work day. At times, these workers may also be required to lift moderately heavy objects, which may increase their risk of back injury.

However, modern shops and factories now employ autoloaders and overhead cranes that reduce the need to lift heavy objects.

Insights from industry

More than half of the job openings over the next few years are expected to come from new job creation.

Demand for machinists and machining and tooling inspectors is driven by the strength of the Manufacturing and Transportation industries and by the health of B.C.'s resource processing operations, such as saw mills, refineries, smelters and pulp and paper mills. Company consolidation and increased international competition may limit job creation in the Forest Products industry. The Transportation industry could also see growth when trade and container transportation recovers and the economy grows.

Job growth for machinists and machining and tooling inspectors will largely depend on trends in the Manufacturing industry. In particular, the potential movement of some aircraft maintenance work for larger airlines to other provinces and some shipbuilding activity offshore may reduce future job growth for machinists and machining and tooling inspectors.

Business investment in machinery and equipment is expected to increase in B.C. as the stronger Canadian dollar allows companies to invest in up-to-date machinery and equipment.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

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.

Additional resources