What Does a Fitter and Turner Do? (With FAQs and Skills)
Updated 24 April 2023
If you're looking for a career in the manufacturing or industrial sectors, have good practical skills and enjoy working with your hands, you might consider becoming a fitter and turner. Fitters and turners are highly skilled craftspeople who do important and necessary work, which means that they're often in high demand. Understanding the role of a fitter and turner can help you determine whether it's the right career for you.
In this article, we answer the question, ‘what does a fitter and turner do?’, discuss the daily tasks of a fitter and turner, show how you can become one, reveal the national average salary for this role and answer some commonly asked questions.
What does a fitter and turner do?
A fitter and turner works from detailed technical specifications and uses specialised tools to construct, manufacture and assemble industrial tools and machine components, usually from metal. They're also responsible for the repair and maintenance of machines. Fitters and turners work in many sectors of the economy and may use their skills to construct and repair many different types of large machinery, including:
diesel-electric backup power generators in large banks, hospitals and public buildings
diesel-powered generators and other machinery used in shipbuilding yards
machinery in industrial or processing plants
motorised machines such as excavators, bulldozers and road graders
parts of trains and railway tracks.
What are the tasks and responsibilities of a fitter and turner?
Since fitters and turners work in a wide range of industries within the manufacturing and industrial sectors, their daily duties may vary widely. However, here are some of the tasks you may be expected to complete as a fitter and turner:
grinding, cutting and shaping metal and other raw materials
repairing, maintaining and operating large pieces of machinery
operating specialised tools to manufacture parts
performing regular maintenance on machinery, diagnosing and repairing any faults
setting guides, stops and other controls for tools and setting up prescribed cutting and shaping tools
monitoring the fabrication process carefully and making safe adjustments
following set procedures and routines
working with and understanding forms, designs and patterns to determine the best materials, machine and machine settings to fabricate a part
checking assembled metal parts for accuracy and fit using precise measuring tools
cutting, threading, bending and fitting hydraulic and pneumatic lines and pipes
erecting and assembling machines onsite
strictly adhering to the protocols in place to keep yourself and others safe.
What skills are required to be a fitter and turner?
If you're interested in a career as a fitter and turner, the following skills and knowledge may help you:
Mechanical, engineering and technical skills: Much of a fitter and turner's work involves using specialised tools to construct, maintain or repair mechanical parts, which means fitters and turners may use a strong aptitude for engineering and machinery.
Knowledge of maths: Fitters and turners can precisely measure parts of machines, understand complex blueprints and diagrams and assess the best tools to use for constructing a piece of machinery, all of which require skills in mathematics.
Hand-eye coordination and practical skills: Fitters and turners spend most of their time working with their hands, so they use excellent coordination and to be good at practical work.
Ability to read and understand blueprints, plans and diagrams: Although fitters and turners learn to understand blueprints and designs as part of their training, having an aptitude for this kind of work is an advantage.
Communication and active listening skills: Fitters and turners may work within a team of other professionals and can communicate effectively. They also have excellent listening skills to listen to and understand any instructions given to them.
Analytical and quality control skills: Fitters and turners can assess the best way of completing a task, including the best materials, tools and settings to use to construct a mechanical part. They can effectively assess the quality of their finished products and provide solutions.
Patience and focus: Fitters and turners need to be able to concentrate on their work even when operating in noisy manufacturing sites, plants and other industrial settings. Fitters and turners also need patience to complete long and sometimes repetitive tasks.
Physical strength and fitness: Working as a fitter and turner may involve standing for long periods, bending and lifting or carrying heavy tools and machinery, so it's important that you're in good physical health if you would like to be a fitter and turner.
How to become a fitter and turner
If you're interested in becoming a fitter and turner, consider following these steps:
Find a fitter and turner apprenticeship. Most fitters and turners enter the trade through an apprenticeship, which means they learn valuable skills on the job from experienced tradesmen while completing vocational training at an approved educational facility.
Complete a Certificate III in Engineering (Mechanical Trade). Many fitters and turners complete this certification as part of an apprenticeship, but you can also study for it at a TAFE or registered organisation. If you have extensive hands-on experience with fabrication, you may be able to transition into a fitter and turner role without a Certificate III.
Pass a trade test. You can only do this once you have completed the appropriate practical and theoretical training. You may also want to consider training in first aid and workplace safety.
Search for jobs as a fitter and turner. Once you have qualified as a fitter and turner, you can search for jobs using the Indeed job search. You can filter your search by location, salary, experience level and date to find the perfect job.
Continue to build on your practical and analytical skills. After you have found your first job as a fitter and turner, you can continue to build on the skills you developed during your training.
Fitter and turner FAQs
Here are the answers to some common questions about working as a fitter and turner:
How much can I earn as a fitter and turner?
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
The average salary for a fitter and turner is $45.61 per hour. The amount you earn may depend on your location. For example, fitters in South Australia earn an average salary of $43.22 per hour, while fitters in Western Australia earn an average of $55.78 per hour.
Where do fitters and turners work?
Fitters and turners can work in several different locations depending on the industry and the manufacturing and industrial needs in their area. For example, a fitter and turner might work at:
large engineering works
industrial plants and factories
iron and steel plants
What are a fitter and turner's working conditions like?
Working as a fitter and turner might include standing for long periods at a time, bending over, crouching and lifting and carrying heavy equipment. Fitters and turners are sometimes expected to work long hours and often work in highly industrial environments. This means that a fitter and turner often pays attention to their surroundings to stay safe.
What hours does a fitter and turner work?
Most fitters and turners work full time, with an average working week of 44 hours. Part-time fitters may work to a schedule with fewer hours. Fitters and turners sometimes work long hours and may work over the weekend, at night and on public holidays.
If you're interested in a career as a fitter and turner, you may consider the following jobs:
Machinist: Machinists work in the engineering industry and follow blueprints and precise specifications set by engineers to produce individual components of various pieces of technology.
Diesel fitter: Diesel fitters are mechanical engineers who specialise in the inspection, maintenance and repair of diesel engines in vehicles, trucks, buses and other heavy machinery.
Mechanic: A mechanic is a tradesperson who specialises in diagnosing and fixing problems in cars and other vehicles and heavy machinery.
Sheet metal worker: Sheet metal workers are responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing items made from sheet metals including steel, iron, aluminium and copper. This may involve working in the manufacturing, construction or automotive industries.
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