Sewing Machinists operate industrial sewing machines to sew and finish garments and soft furnishings such as curtains.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around one in four workers have Year 12 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary.

Tasks

  • threading machines, inserting bobbins and positioning parts to be sewn
  • starting, stopping and controlling speed of machines with pedals and knee levers to coordinate actions of presser feet, clothes guides, blades and other attachments, and guiding parts under needles, following edges, seams and markings
  • changing needles and adjusting, securing and modifying attachments to machines
  • finishing items by cutting excess material and threads
  • operating thread trimming and other non-sewing machines
  • inspecting stitching for defects and notifying repair mechanics of machine malfunctions
  • performing basic maintenance such as lubrication of machines
  • may do laying up and bundling tasks
  • may ticket, label and finish work

Job Titles

  • Sewing Machinist
  • Sewing Machinist

    Specialisations: Embroiderer

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $749 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    decline
  • Skill Level

    Certificate II or III
  • Employment Size

    5700
  • Unemployment

    average
  • Male Share

    13.6%
  • Female Share

    86.4%
  • Full-Time Share

    50.1%

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This is a very small occupation employing 5,700 workers. The number of workers has fallen over the past 5 years.
Over the next 5 years (to May 2022) the number of workers is expected to fall to 4,000. Around 1,000 job openings are likely over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created.

  • While there are jobs in many parts of Australia, Victoria and South Australia have a large share of Sewing Machinists.
  • They mainly work in: Manufacturing; Retail Trade; and Wholesale Trade.
  • Part-time work is very common. Full-time workers, on average, work 36.7 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $749 per week (lower than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The workforce is fairly mature. The average age is 51 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 6 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • Around 9 in 10 workers are female.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was similar to the average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2017 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2022.
YearNumber of Workers
200714000
200814700
200911000
201014200
201110600
201212200
201310100
20148800
201510100
20168400
20175700
20224000

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsSewing MachinistsAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings7491230

Hours

Full-Time and Part-Time Status (% Share) and Average Weekly Hours (Full-Time)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategorySewing MachinistsAll Jobs Average
Full-time50.168.4
Part-time49.931.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)36.740

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Manufacturing86
Retail Trade6.1
Wholesale Trade3
Education and Training1.7
Other Industries3.2

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateSewing MachinistsAll Jobs Average
NSW23.231.8
VIC40.125.5
QLD15.619.8
SA12.66.8
WA6.511.2
TAS1.72
NT0.21.1
ACT01.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketSewing MachinistsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.8-5.45.4
20-242.1-9.99.9
25-348.7-23.423.4
35-4425.1-21.721.7
45-5422.3-21.121.1
55-5925.3-8.78.7
60-6410.2-5.95.9
65 and Over5.6-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategorySewing MachinistsCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males13.6Males53.6
Females86.4Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% Share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationSewing MachinistsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0-8.68.6
Bachelor degree15.3-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma11.8-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV12.9-18.918.9
Year 1222.4-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1020-17.717.7
Below Year 1017.6-8.18.1

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
Around one in four workers have Year 12 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Sewing Machinists who are hardworking, can work well with others and are reliable.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Production and Processing

    53% Important

    Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.

  2. Administration and Management

    46% Important

    Planning and coordination of people and resources.

  3. English Language

    44% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  4. Mathematics

    40% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

  5. Mechanical

    39% Important

    Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-6031.00 - Sewing Machine Operators.

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Getting Information

    75% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

  2. Controlling Machines and Processes

    67% Important

    Operate machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).

  3. Handling and Moving Objects

    64% Important

    Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

  4. Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material

    62% Important

    Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.

  5. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

    60% Important

    Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Occupational Information Network
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-6031.00 - Sewing Machine Operators.

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