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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing overalls, is building a mould.

    Patternmakers design and construct patterns that are used in foundries to make metal parts. A pattern is a full-scale model of a metal part. The pattern is used to make a mould.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, in a busy workshop.  He is creating a pattern inside a white mould.

    Patterns are made of wood, metal, plastic, polystyrene or wax. Here, the patternmaker is creating a wax pattern.

  • Two men, wearing overalls, are lifting a large piece of wood.

    The components for the patterns can be quite large. Heavy lifting may be required.

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

    The patternmaker has to follow detailed technical drawings.

  • A man, wearing overalls, is standing in a workshop.  He is using a machine.

    Metal parts can be worked on computer controlled machines such as this lathe.



Patternmakers design and construct patterns. They use a variety of materials such as wood and plastic to make metal casting moulds.

Also known as

  • Foundry Patternmaker

Work Activities

Patternmakers design and construct patterns or shapes that are used to make metal casting moulds. The moulds can then be used to make metal parts, such as engineering machinery and surgical instruments.

Patternmakers generally use wood to make the shapes, but metal, plastic and polystyrene can also be used. They shape the patterns using cutting equipment, including hand tools, portable powered tools or machine tools like lathes and milling machines.

Patternmakers also produce metal dies, which are moulds into which molten metal can be poured. A die is made by machining a hole into a block of heat resistant metal. The die is in two halves, so that it can be opened to remove the finished object.

CAD and CAM software are a major part of the work involved in this career.

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

Personal Qualities and Skills

To do this job well, you'll need:

  • A wide range of hand and machine skills.
  • A high level of ability in working with different types of material, including wood, metal and plastic.
  • IT skills for any CAM or CAD work.
  • Maths ability for taking measurements and making calculations.
  • To be accurate and precise in your work.
  • Good problem-solving skills

Working conditions may be dusty, so the job may not be suited to you if you have allergies or conditions such as asthma.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

Patternmakers earn in the range of £18,000 - £23,500, rising to £27,500 - £30,000 for more specialist positions.

Hours of work

Patternmakers usually work a basic 39-hour week, which may include shift work and weekend work.

Where could I work?

Employers are firms such as foundries and specialist patternmaking companies that make metal products. Some foundries are independent firms, while others are part of larger firms, such as car manufacturers.

Opportunities for patternmakers occur with patternmaking firms (usually small businesses) and foundries in industrial areas in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

One route into this job is through a Metal Processing Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

You might not need any qualifications to enter this career. However, courses related to engineering will be useful for entry.


Your training will be largely on-the-job with some off-the-job training at college.

Work Experience

Previous experience gained in woodworking, foundry work or mechanical engineering craft work would be really useful for this career.


Progression is often to supervisory positions within a company.


You may be able to enter this job with no formal qualifications. However, most employers prefer you to have some GCSEs at grade C or above (or equivalent qualifications). Useful subjects include Engineering, Maths, Manufacturing, and Design and Technology (Resistant Materials Technology).

BTEC offer a Level 1 qualification in Pattern Cutting which would help you to stand out from the crowd.

To get on to a relevant Intermediate Level Apprenticeship, you'll need to either have some relevant work experience, or show you can cope with a level 2 course.

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.


Relevant skills gained in woodworking, foundry work or mechanical engineering craft work, are an advantage.


One route into this job is through a Metal Processing Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



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



Institute of Cast Metals Engineers (ICME)

Address: 47 Birmingham Road, West Bromwich, West Midlands B70 6PY

Tel: 0121 6016979



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


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