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Summary of occupation

Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper as prints or illustrations; also called engravings. Originally, there was only hand engraving, however modern technology has brought various mechanically assisted engraving systems. This includes pneumatic pistons that drive the point much like a jackhammer, which greatly reduces the effort needed in traditional hand engraving.

ANZSCO description: Inscribes letters, figures and designs on metal, glass, wood, rubber, plastic and other surfaces.
Alternative names: Etcher
Specialisations: Hand Engraver, Industrial Engraver
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An engraver should:

  • enjoy and be able to do accurate and detailed artistic and creative work
  • eave good eyesight (may be corrected through the use of glasses)
  • display good hand-eye coordination
  • have an aptitude for working with computers
  • have good spelling and language ability.
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Working conditions

Engravers are employed by manufacturers, industrial and commercial engraving firms, jewellers and combined footwear repair/key cutting/engraving shops. Some engravers are self-employed, although the cost of establishing a business ican be high. Engraving firms tend to be small, usually employing two to ten staff members.

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Salary details

On average, engravers, classified under precision metal trades workers, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an engraver develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase. ​

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Tools and technologies

The type of equipment used by engravers is being improved with the introduction of computer technology. Tools include: etching needles; scrapers; burnishers; hammers; rules; callipers and compasses for measuring; countersinks and chamfering tools and electric and pneumatic engravers. An engraver may also use metal plates and etching needles to produce artistic and photographic prints.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can be employed as an engraver without any formal qualifications. You will most likely receive some informal training on the job. ​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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