Learn how to set up and operate precision metal cutting and grinding machines such as lathes, milling machines, drills and grinders to make and repair products made from metals, plastics, rubber textiles, fibreglass and space-age alloys.

You'll work according to the exact specifications. You’ll determine dimensions logically or by measuring samples using micrometres and callipers. Electronic instruments have digital readouts and require the operator to program them for use.

Throughout a project, you will study specifications, charts, drawings or sample parts to determine the machining operation to be performed, calculate dimensions and tolerances and prepare working sketches if necessary. You'll measure and mark metal and other materials, set up and operate tools, which may be computer numerically controlled, to perform precision machining operations and fit parts to mechanisms and verify dimensions.

Machinists are skilled tradespeople who are self-motivated and get excited about working on leading-edge machinery. This line of work is most fulfilling for those who enjoy being creative work with precision.

To thrive in this career, it is important to have the following traits:

  • interest in design and creativity
  • willingness to learn new technology and production trends
  • proficient hand dexterity and speed
  • mechanical aptitude
  • ability to accurately estimate and measure sizes and lengths for precise work
  • Capacity to work independently on tasks that require high concentration and physical effort
  • endurance to stand for long periods
  • a commitment to safe work habits.

Upon successfully completing the required working hours and apprenticeship education periods, graduates will be awarded an advanced diploma in addition to journeyperson status by Alberta’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Machinists are a Red Seal Endorsed trade — a recognizable standard that allows tradespeople to work across Canada.

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Careers and opportunities

Apprenticeship training

The term of apprenticeship for a machinist is four years (four 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of apprenticeship education each year.

Year 1 | Period 1

You will start by learning safety and measurements. You will then learn machine tools, trade math and print reading.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 2 | Period 2

You will learn metallurgy, heat treatment, tooling, machine tools, trade math, and print reading.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 3 | Period 3

You will learn computer numerical control machines (CNC), machine tools, trade math, computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 4 | Period 4

You will learn computer numerical control machining centers, machine tools, computer-aided design and manufacturing, as well as metrology, coaching and governance.

Training length: 8 weeks

Apprenticeship education performance

To succeed in apprenticeship education, you must pass each section of the course and the AIT exam.

The passing grade for each section in a course is 65%. A passing mark on each provincial exam and the interprovincial qualification (or Red Seal Exam) is 70%.

View Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training procedures


Training pathways

You can earn your journeyperson designation in the following way.  

The traditional training pathway begins with finding a job with an employer willing to indenture you as an apprentice. Once you are an apprentice, you will alternate between on-the-job training and educational periods. 
You must apply for an apprenticeship through Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training before attending your first education period at SAIT. 

SAIT’s two-year Machining Technology diploma program equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully challenge the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) exams for Machinist Periods one through four and the Journeyman apprenticeship exam. 

Admission requirements

To enter an apprenticeship, you must have the educational qualifications required or recommended education for the trade to which you apply.

Entrance requirements are monitored and set by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Minimum requirements

Successful completion of the following courses:

  • English 10-2
  • Math 10-3
  • Science 10


A pass mark in all five Canadian General Educational Development (GED) tests


Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Entrance Exam

Recommended requirements

Apprentices with an Alberta High School Diploma that includes the following courses:

  • English 30-2
  • Math 30-3
  • Physics 20 OR Chemistry 20 OR Science 20
  • Related career and technology studies (CTS) courses
A woman wearing coveralls and a welding helmet poses for a photograph in a SAIT welding lab.


Once you have begun working as an apprentice, you can attend SAIT to complete your technical training.

You'll register for technical training at SAIT on MyTradeSecrets or you can register by phone.

How to register

Available intakes


2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023.

Domestic students

Period Number of weeks Tuition fees Additional fees Total
1 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
2 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
3 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
4 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
Total cost:

Books or modules, along with other items for classes, are approximately $600 per period.

It's recommended you don't purchase books or modules ahead of time as they might be outdated by the time you attend classes, and they cannot be returned to the Bookstore.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required for the program, which may be an additional cost to apprentices.

A man crosses his arms over planks of wood and smiles at the camera.

Funding options for apprentices

Apprentices get to learn while they earn, but there are still costs to consider. Many resources are available at SAIT and federally to help support apprentices.

Financial aid

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.


Have more questions?

Technical training at SAIT

School of Manufacturing and Automation


Apprenticeship training and registration

Apprenticeship and Industry Training Client Services