Wood machinists cut and prepare timber for use in wood products.
Salary Range: £16,000 to £28,000
How to become a wood machinist
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You can take a college course that would teach you some of the skills needed. Relevant courses include:
- Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills
- Level 1 Diploma In Carpentry and Joinery
- Level 2 Diploma in Wood Machining
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
You could do a wood product manufacturing operative intermediate apprenticeship, or an advanced apprenticeship in wood machining.
You could also get into this career through an intermediate apprenticeship for furniture manufacturers, or a furniture CNC technician advanced apprenticeship, if you’re working in the furniture manufacturing industry.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
You could start as a labourer in construction, or an assistant with a wood products or furniture manufacturing company. You could then specialise in machining work after doing on-the-job training.
You could apply directly to work as a wood machinist. You’ll need experience of working with timber.
You can get more details about how to become a wood machinist from Go Construct.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- persistence and determination
- the ability to work on your own
- physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- the ability to work well with your hands
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- planning jobs following detailed technical drawings
- selecting the right type of wood for a particular product
- working out the amount of timber needed
- cutting and shaping timber, using tools like saws, planes and routers
- cleaning workshop tools and servicing equipment
- using computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment
- using computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) methods
You could work in a workshop or at a sawmill.
Your working environment may be dusty, physically demanding and noisy.
You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could progress to a supervisor role, or move into related work like bench joinery, shopfitting or kitchen and bathroom installation.