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Precision instrument maker and repairer

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Summary of occupation

Precision Instrument Makers and Repairers assemble, calibrate, install and overhaul mechanical precision instruments and equipment.

Repairing and maintaining watches, cameras, musical instruments, medical equipment, and other precision instruments requires a high level of skill and attention to detail. Some devices contain tiny gears that must be manufactured to within one one-hundredth of a millimetre of design specifications, and other devices contain sophisticated electronic controls. 

ANZSCO description: Assembles, calibrates, installs and overhauls  mechanical precision instruments and equipment.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Camera Repairer, Piano Tuner and Repairer, Scalemaker, Scientific Instrument Maker and Repairer, Watch and Clock Maker Repairer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An Instrument Maker Repairer needs:
• To enjoy practical and manual work
• Have good eyesight (may be corrected) and normal colour vision essential
• Be able to do precise and detailed work
• Possess technical skills and be able to continually undertake work of a highly technical nature
• To be able to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to identify and repair faults
• Learn from experience and take in new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making Algebra, geometry, applied technology, computer science, and metal work are relevant school based studies

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Working conditions

Precision instrument repairers work under a wide array of conditions, from hot, dirty, noisy factories to well lit air-conditioned workshops, to the outdoors on fieldwork. Attention to safety is essential as the work sometimes involves dangerous machinery, toxic chemicals, or radiation. Due to the individualised nature of the work, supervision is fairly minimal. Medical equipment repairers must work in a patient environment, which has the potential to expose them to diseases and other health risks, but occupational injuries are relatively uncommon.

Piano and organ tuners must travel to the instruments being repaired. Often, these workers can adjust their schedules, allowing for second jobs as needed.

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Salary details

On average, precision instrument makers and repairers can 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. 

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Tools and technologies

When machining new parts, workers often use a small lathe, a grinding wheel, and other metalworking tools. Additional tools may include:
• Polishers and buffers
• Gas torches
• Lathes
• Shears
• Mallets
• Precision screw drivers
• Soldering irons;
• Multimeters; specialised software and computers designed to communicate with specific pieces of hardware
• Electronic tools to repair and adjust equipment
• Pneumatic, electrical and electronic test equipment and calibrating precision instruments
• Jigs and fixtures, and hand tools to adjust and align parts and small balancing weights and tools

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a precision instrument maker and repairer, you may consider completing an apprenticeship. The electronics and communications tradesperson; fitter and machinist; metal machinist (first class); mechanical fitter; lectrical instrumentation tradesperson; or watch and clock repairing apprenticeships usually take 42 to 48 months to complete.

For more information regarding how best to enter this occupation, contact a reputable local business. 

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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