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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing blue overalls, is standing in a workshop.  He is looking at a large sheet of paper.

    Working from engineering drawings.

  • A man, wearing blue overalls, is carefully using a measuring machine.

    Using measuring equipment.

  • A man, wearing blue overalls and safety goggles, is using a large grinding machine in a workshop.

    Shaping metal by grinding.

  • A man, wearing blue overalls and safety goggles, is using a tool-sharpening machine.  Sparks are flying out from the grinding wheel.

    Sharpening the tools for the machines.

  • A man, wearing blue overalls, is using a large machine, in a busy workshop.  He is setting the speed of the machine.

    Setting the speed of the machine.

Engineering Craft Machinist


Engineering craft machinists set up and operate engineering machines. They use the machines to shape metal, for example, by cutting, grinding and boring.

Also known as

  • Machinist, Engineering Craft

Video: - Nigel: Engineering Craft Machinist

Work Activities

Engineering craft machinists create engineered parts using a machine tool to shape metal or plastic workpieces.

They work from engineering drawings that give the exact details of the parts they need to make. They read these drawings, decide which machinery is needed and prepare the tools for the machines. They use both computer-controlled and hand-controlled machines.

Accuracy is essential both in setting up and operating the machines. Machinists work to very fine tolerances (precise dimensions), for example, skimming 1/100th of a millimetre from a part.

Setting up machinery involves calculating machine speeds. It's important for engineering craft machinists to operate machines at the highest speed possible, while maintaining accuracy and quality.

Some machines are Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC), which involves inputting instructions to a computer which is built into the machine.

Having carefully set up the machine, the engineering craft machinist inspects the first parts they've made. An inspector may look at the parts before the work can continue. Throughout production, machinists check for accuracy. This can involve using different types of measuring equipment to make sure dimensions are correct.

They may need to re-position a workpiece several times and carry out different cuts before the component is completed.

The work can be noisy and dirty. Engineering craft machinists may need to wear safety clothing such as overalls, protective footwear and eye protectors.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As an engineering craft machinist, you need:

  • Practical skills and to enjoy working with your hands.
  • Good number skills, as the work involves making accurate calculations, measurements and machine adjustments.
  • Good levels of concentration.
  • An understanding of metals.
  • To be able to read and understand engineering drawings.
  • To follow written and verbal instructions, which may be on a computer terminal.
  • A methodical approach to your work.
  • Good organisational skills.
  • Patience and accuracy, for setting up and operating the machines.
  • To be able to work well without supervision.
  • To enjoy being part of a team.
  • To develop good hand to eye co-ordination.
  • To be physically fit, as you'll spend much of your time on your feet.

Computer skills could be useful.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

Engineering craft machinists earn in the range of £13,500 - £16,000 a year, rising to £20,500 - £25,000, with experience. Higher salaries are possible for senior positions.

Hours of work

Engineering craft machinists usually work 39-40 hours a week, which may include shift work, evening, night and weekend work.

What's happening in this area?

This industry no longer dominates manufacturing employment as it used to.

The sector was hard hit by the recent recession, but it has recovered slightly.

However, cutbacks in public expenditure in areas such as defence will reduce growth rates.

UK engineering is now a much smaller, leaner sector.

It suffers from a shortage of high-skilled personnel, and also a shortage of women, with around 3 in 4 jobs being taken by men. As a result, men are expected to bear the brunt of expected fall in employment.

Full time employees are also expected to suffer the main job losses.

Part-time employment is increasing in importance.

Where could I work?

Employers throughout the UK include large and small engineering firms.

Opportunities for engineering craft machinists occur in engineering workshops throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

One way to enter this career is by doing an apprenticeship.

Relevant Intermediate Level and Advanced Level Apprenticeships are available and may be offered in your area.

Some people study at college for relevant qualifications, eg, Edexcel (BTEC) National Diplomas or A levels, before looking for work.


Before joining the factory floor and working under the supervision of an experienced machinist, you may attend a training centre for a number of weeks.

Certificates and diplomas are available in Performing Engineering Operations at levels 1 and 2, and in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering at levels 2-4.


Engineering craft machinists can progress to team leader/supervisor positions after further training and experience.


There are no formal entry requirements for this career. However, many employers or training providers prefer you to have at least 4 GCSEs, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Training providers may ask you to take an aptitude test.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Intermediate Level Apprenticeships and Advanced Level Apprenticeships may be available in your area.


  • 3% of people in occupations such as engineering craft machinist are self-employed.
  • 3% work part-time.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)


Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000




Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001



The Engineer

Engineering technology news


Tomorrow's Engineers

Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering



Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000



Engineer Jobs

Publisher: Venture Marketing Group


Scottish Engineering

Scottish enquiries

Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL

Tel: 0141 2213181



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

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