What Does a Tool & Die Maker Do?

A Tool and Die Maker (430A) is a skilled craftsperson who makes, repairs and modifies custom made, prototype or special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures and gauges to very specific and precise dimensions. The work involves the operation of lathes, grinders, milling and boring machines. The NOC code for this trade is: 7232.

Learn about the business case for training apprentices in the tool & die field

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • reading and interpreting drawings and specifications of tools, dies, prototypes or models
  • calculating dimensions and tolerances and setting up the machine tools
  • operating a variety of machine tools to cut, turn, mill, plane, bore, grind and shape the piece being worked on to very specific dimensions
  • planning the sequence of operations from set-up to finished product
  • making sure that machined parts conform to specifications by using precision measuring instruments
  • fitting and assembling parts using a variety of different hand tools
  • spotting any flaws in the finish or operation of machined parts and taking corrective action
  • working independently or as a member of a team on a variety of different projects and tasks

Additional information on training standards for this particular trade in the Industrial sector may be found on the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website at: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/trades/training-standards1/industrial

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become a Tool and Die Maker you must complete Grade 12 with a secondary school diploma , preferably with senior credits in Math and Science, before entering an apprenticeship of approximately 7280 hours of work experience and 3 eight week in-school training sessions. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

If you are currently attending high school, you may benefit from enroling in a Manufacturing Specialist High Skills Major Program. For more information, please click the following link:


What’s Your Future as a Tool & Die Maker?

Most workers employed as Tool and Die Makers work full-time, sometimes in shift work, and often with large manufacturers or in smaller custom shops, occasionally becoming self-employed. Employment opportunities for Tool and Die Makers can be found with:

  • motor vehicle parts manufacturers
  • machine shops
  • machinery and equipment manufacturers
  • aircraft and parts manufacturers
  • hardware manufacturers

The trend in the last decade, as with many trades, is toward computerization. Tool and Die Makers are now being required to operate computerized numeric control machines. Although the machines are programmed by engineers or programmers, the tool and die maker must understand the programming process. As well, Tool and Die Makers need to know quite a bit about metallurgy.

Wage Rate

  • you start at a wage rate that is less than that of a journeyperson tool and die maker
  • this rate increases gradually as you acquire skills and gain competency
  • the journeyperson’s wage rate varies in the range of $14.00 to $28.00 per hour, often with benefits and the opportunities for overtime


Ask Yourself: Is Tool & Die Making For You?

Do you enjoy working with your hands?

Yes      No

Are you pretty good at working with numbers?

Yes      No

Do you prefer to work on different tasks and not the same thing every day?

Yes      No

Is it easy for you to spot differences in size, shape or form?

Yes      No

Can you visualize how things fit together for them to work?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy keeping up with and learning about new technology?

Yes      No

Are you good at planning how to accomplish a task from start to finish?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Tool & Die Maker may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Machinist
  • Construction Millwright/Industrial Mechanic
  • Industrial Woodworker


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