Toolmakers craft the tools essential for New Zealand’s industrial processes.

Career information


What does it involve?

Toolmakers are trained in engineering skills and knowledge to make moulds, dies, gauges, jigs, tooling, press tooling, and fixtures for industrial processes.

Many common household items such as aerosol cans and plastic bottles are produced from tooling.

Tooling is typically used in sheet metal presses or injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion, and pressure die-casting operations.

Typical day

Normally an 8-hour day; sometimes working longer may be required. 

Work can include design and manufacturing moulds, dies or casts for mass-produced product containers (for example paint and aerosol cans, etc.) as well as designing and manufacturing one-off tools needed within an industry. 

You’ll learn CAD/CAM design programs, and also CNC or EDM machining using computers.

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Does this sound like you?

• English or Media or History

• Maths or Accounting or Economics

• Sciences or Workshop Technologies

• Computing/ICT/Information Management.

• Strong eye for detail

• Good literacy and numeracy

• Confidence with IT, computers, technology

• Good work habits/time management.

• Making or fixing things

• Working with machinery

• Working with computers.

• Inside (workshop or plant).

Career pathway

Unit standards

Ideally NCEA Level 2 in:

• Maths

• Science (physics)

• Technology (metal work)

• English

Gateway programme available


• Toolmaker

• Machine Shop

• CNC Programmer/Operator

• Research and Development Manufacturing

Higher learning

• Specialist Toolmaker

• Supervisor

Higher learning

• Foreman

• Site Supervisor

• Business Manager

• Business Owner

Qualifications available

This qualification has been developed by leading New Zealand mechanical engineers to equip staff with the skills and knowledge to work productively and safely.

With technology and automation rapidly driving change in the engineering sector, this qualification is designed with the future in mind so your people can respond and adapt to change.

Most of the learning is practical work completed on-the-job. Apprentices are also required to complete eLearning via our online learning platform Canvas, and attend block courses for two to three weeks each year.

Speak to your training advisor or account manager for details on programme and resource pricing.

All graduates will be able to:

  • Understand relevant health and safety legislation and workplace safety culture
  • Interpret drawings and specifications and use the appropriate materials, processes, tools and equipment for the task 
  • Apply knowledge of relevant engineering principles and practices, and problem solving skills, to perform engineering tasks to industry standards
  • Use effective and efficient processes, principles and quality systems to produce components and provide services in a commercial mechanical engineering environment 
  • Communicate effectively within a team and the wider workplace 
  • Recognise the limits of their own ability and the importance of working with integrity and maintaining currency in the mechanical engineering field.

Graduates of the Maintenance Engineering strand will also be able to:

Apply knowledge of maintenance engineering strategies and practices to monitor, inspect, maintain and repair facilities or plant and equipment.


Mechanical engineering NZQA qualification overview

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

  • Comprehend and apply detailed knowledge underpinning good practice as an engineering technician
  • Comprehend and apply detailed knowledge underpinning good practice as an engineering technician that is specific to the jurisdiction in which he/she practices
  • Be responsible for making decisions on part or all of one or more or more well-defined engineering activities
  • Manage part or all of one or more well-defined engineering activities in accordance with good engineering management practice
  • Communicate clearly with others in the course of his/her well defined engineering activities
  • Maintain the currency of engineering knowledge and skills
  • Exercise sound engineering judgement
  • Conduct engineering activities to an ethical standard at least equivalent to the relevant code of ethical conduct
  • Recognise the reasonably foreseeable social, cultural and environmental effects of well-defined engineering activities generally

Graduates of the Mechanical Engineering strand will also be able to:

  • Identify, state and analyse well-defined engineering problems in accordance with good practice for engineering
  • Design or develop solutions to well-defined engineering problems by applying accepted procedures and methodologies
  • Identify risk and apply risk management techniques to well-defined engineering problems

NZQA qualification overview

How much could I earn?

  • 3 – 5 years experience

    $57k- $77k