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Occupation Details

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Job Zone

Most occupations in this zone require job specific training (vocational training) related to the occupation (NFQ Levels 5 and 6 or higher), related on-the-job experience, or a relevant professional award.

Related Experience
Previous work-related skills, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, several years of full or part-time employment in the area may suffice.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognised apprenticeship or training program may be associated with these occupations.

Job Zone Examples
These occupations usually involve using communication and organisational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include restaurant managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, hairdressers, and web developers.

€18k > 43
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€18 - 43
Related Information:
Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2017

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Shortage Indicator

Employers have indicated a difficulty in sourcing skills in this area across numerous manufacturing sub-sectors. Despite increased supply, demand continues in niche areas e.g. high tech manufacturing.

National Skills Bulletin 2018

Occupational Category

Metal Machining, Tool Makers & Related Trades

Also included in this category:

Metal machining setters and setter-operators; tool makers; tool fitters; metal working production and maintenance fitters; instrument makers and repairers; air-conditioning and refrigeration engineers.

Number Employed:


Part time workers: 5%
Non-Nationals: 5%
With Third Level: 31%
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At a Glance... header image

Make special tools for use in factories and workshops using precision machinery.

Videos & Interviews header image

1Total Records:1

Phelim Reilly
Process Engineer / Toolmaker

Phelim began his career as a toolmaker apprentice and progressed on to working as a Process Engineer with Belurgen Precision Engineering Ltd. Phelim gives an overview of the different apprenticeship phases and the importance of learning from working with others who have already gone through the process. 

Go to Interview

The Work header image

Toolmakers work to high specifications and quality requirements to produce machine tools used in manufacturing. Manufacturing industries use the tools to make a very diverse range of parts and products, from dashboards to pen tops, to central heating boilers. Toolmakers also make moulds to form shapes, jigs to guide cutters or hold a part in place, and dies, which are shaped blocks that are used to cut, stamp or press materials.  
At the beginning of their work, toolmakers may use technical drawings to learn about the product. Next, they operate a range of specialist engineering machines such as lathes, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, and grinding, milling and boring machines.  
Toolmakers use hand tools like files, and small machines like grinding and polishing machines to smooth and finish a tool. When they are satisfied with the tool, the toolmaker fits it onto the production machine and supervises a test run.  
They normally wear safety clothing such as overalls, and hearing and eye protectors when necessary.

Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


Verify dimensions, alignments, and clearances of finished parts for conformance to specifications, using measuring instruments such as calipers, gauge blocks, micrometers, and dial indicators.


Study blueprints, sketches, models, or specifications to plan sequences of operations for fabricating tools, dies, or assemblies.


Set up and operate conventional or computer numerically controlled machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders to cut, bore, grind, or otherwise shape parts to prescribed dimensions and finishes.


Visualize and compute dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of assemblies, based on specifications.


Inspect finished dies for smoothness, contour conformity, and defects.


Fit and assemble parts to make, repair, or modify dies, jigs, gauges, and tools, using machine tools and hand tools.


Conduct test runs with completed tools or dies to ensure that parts meet specifications, making adjustments as necessary.


Select metals to be used from a range of metals and alloys, based on properties such as hardness and heat tolerance.


File, grind, shim, and adjust different parts to properly fit them together.


Lift, position, and secure machined parts on surface plates or worktables, using hoists, vises, v-blocks, or angle plates.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


Controlling Machines and Processes: Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).


Handling and Moving Objects: Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.


Thinking Creatively: Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.


Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment: Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.


Making Decisions and Solving Problems: Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment: Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.


Processing Information: Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.


Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work: Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.


Performing General Physical Activities: Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


Mechanical: Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


Mathematics: Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


Design: Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.


Engineering and Technology: Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.


Production and Processing: Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Quality Control Analysis: Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.


Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.


Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.


Operations Analysis: Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.


Troubleshooting: Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.


Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Time Management: Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Equipment Selection: Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.


Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

Producing high levels of accuracy demands patience and concentration. You need to be able to read, understand and analyse engineering drawings. Good number skills are important to make precise measurements and calculations.  
A practical approach to problem-solving is necessary. You need to work logically and plan your work.  
Co-ordination and hand skills are important for using a wide range of machine tools, hand tools and other equipment. Many toolmakers work alone, so you may need to work effectively without supervision.  
Toolmakers spend much of their time on their feet and need to be fairly fit and active.

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

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Go..Toolmaker - from: N.C.S. [UK]

Related Occupationsheader image

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Apprenticeship Information


Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Art, Craft & Design
Engineering & Manufacturing
Biomedical Technologies & Medtech

Search for Related Courses from Qualifax - the National Learners Database


Further Ed & PLC Course Suggestions
If you are interested in this occupation, then the following courses may also be of interest. Note that these course suggestions are not intended to indicate that they lead directly to this occupation, only that they are related in some way and may be worth exploring.

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