Plastic. It’s hard to imagine life without this ingenious little polymer.

Career information

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What does it involve?

The plastics industry makes the plastic items we all use every day. These include plastic bags, plastic piping, plastic bottles, house guttering and plastic bins. They also produce custom-moulded plastic components for commercial use.

Plastics moulders and engineers oversee the production of everyday products such as containers, pipes and bottles as well as custom-moulded components for commercial use. As an apprentice you will get to grips with using machinery, running trials, troubleshooting and making production recommendations. There are a range of specialist technical roles you can progress to and qualify in. New Zealand is a global leader in plastics innovation, producing a variety of products for the medical, dairy, aeronautical and animal health industries. Understanding types of plastics and their uses is important as the world moves into using biodegradable materials.

A typical day

Typically, an 8-hour day which may include shift work.

Plastics engineers operate one or more plastics processing machines, run trials, make recommendations to improve production processes, troubleshoot and resolve processing problems, and quality assure.

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How could I get into the industry?

You can join from school, with NCEA passes, or move into the industry from another manufacturing industry.

What kind of jobs could I do?

Jobs include:

  • Plastics Moulders
  • Production Operators
  • Technicians
  • Die Setters
  • Machine Setters
  • Tool Makers
  • Product Designers
  • Technologists
  • Plastics Engineers
  • Technical Managers
  • Production Managers

Plus there are opportunities to work in the types of roles that are common to all manufacturing processes (e.g. quality control).

How much could I earn?

  • 3 – 5 years experience

    $52k- $70.7k