Pursuing a career as a Machinist in South Africa
Interested in the field of trade and artisan jobs? Today the Job Mail team takes a closer look at the Machinist. From what the job involves, to the type of qualifications needed for Machinist jobs, Job Mail delves a little into what it takes to be a professional in this industry.
For those who are not in the know a Machinist is a person who makes and modifies parts and objects using a number of machine tools. These professionals make use of machine tools to cut and carve material in order to produce output in the form of a part for specific equipment.
The parts produced generally have to be made individually and according to specific requirements. If you find this job option interesting then you should definitely read on as this article is specifically geared towards understanding the job of a Mechanist.
The Job of a Metal Machinist
A Machinist who specialises in cutting metal materials and producing or repairing metallic parts are known as metal machinists. The job involves; receiving and analysing highly detailed drawings and specifications from engineering teams for specific parts, planning out a sequence of required to steps to get the desired output, and proceeding to actually cut and shape metal to produce or repair a metallic part.
Your day to day tasks could include; producing metal parts that are unique from given material, having a detailed workflow to aide in the cutting process, setting up the configuration of machine tools in accordance to the requirements provided by the engineers you work with and according to their blueprints, working with the quality assessment team to confirm that the specifications set out by the engineers have been met and observing the operations of the machine tools to detect any malfunctions that may occur in the machine cutting process.
This is not an easy job because you will be operating powerful machinery on a regular basis you must have thorough knowledge of the properties of the machinery and a steady pair of hands. Inaccuracy in handling the machinery can easily result in you producing output that is not consistent with the requirements set out by the engineering team.
This occupation is listed as a trade, therefore in order to be qualified to operate as a Metal Machinist you are required to have a minimum of 40% in mathematics at Grade 9 or National Certificate Level 2, unfortunately this requirement excludes mathematics literacy so you may want to brush up on your actual math skills. You may, depending on whether you want to be involved in the civil, mechanical or electrical categories of the trade, be required to have a minimum of 40% in the relevant N2 Trade theory or vocational subject of the National Certificate Level 2.
Alternatively, you could pursue an apprenticeship under the mentorship of a qualified artisan which will give you practical know how, a learnership/series of learnerships to help you learn the theory aspect, pursue a learning program that will be a combination of both theory and practical and find a job as an artisan to gain more work experience and practical know how.
Once you meet these requirements you will then have to apply to, take and pass a trade test which you can do at a trade test centre. You have to make sure the trade test is accredited by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB). For this reason it is advisable that you look for a national trade test centre as these centres are accredited by both the QCTO and the NAMB.
After you have passed your trade test and find a job as Metal Machinist you can expect to earn an average of R65 rand per hour, for a regular 9 to 5 job this would work out to about R11 000 – R12 000 per month.
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Working as a Wood Machinist
A machinist who specialises in the cutting of wood material is often referred to as wood machinists. Also listed as a trade, these professionals can expect to carry out different tasks and have different responsibilities.
For a wood machinist their day to day responsibilities include;
- setting up, operating and monitoring various types of woodworking machinery in order to ensure that they can carve, drill and press wood in order to produce or repair wooden parts to be used on furniture and other wooden products,
- staying up to date with current technological trends in woodworking,
- programming and controlling Computer-Aided Design and Computer Numerical Control,
- preparing and adding decorative features and finishes to furniture and
- cleaning up work areas to make sure that they remain safe work environments.
If you would like to work in Machinist jobs, you will be expected to pass a trade test at a national trade test centre and generally the requirements to become a qualified professional is pretty much the same as those of a metal machinist.
As a qualified professional you can expect to earn an average of R 11 000 – R12 000 per month however if you are become a Computer Numerically Controlled Machinist you could earn an average of between R15 000 – R16 000 rand per month.
As you gain more experience you can increase your salary expectations to as much as R23 000 per month.
The future of a machinist
There has been a lot of talk about the automation of a lot of jobs and the possibility of automation replacing jobs in certain sectors. It is therefore important to assess how safe the job of a machinist is given the possibility of automation and machinery replacing a lot of jobs in the coming future and it is important to assess how safe the career is.
Although it is possible, and has been possible since 60s, to fully automate the job of a machinist there are a number of issues that may make such automation impractical. Firstly, the quality of materials you receive varies on a day to day basis because there is no consistency in material quality.
This means that for each material you receive a different method must be adopted to cut and shape this material to produce consistent results. Attempting to automate this would be far too costly and inefficient. Secondly for automation to be effective there has to be someone who is able to maintain and repair the machinery and ensure that there are no malfunctions in the manufacturing process.
So if you decide to be a machinist you can have peace of mind in that you will have job security for the foreseeable future. Ready? Find Machinist jobs on Job Mail now!