How to Become a Fitter and Turner in South Africa: Qualifications, Jobs and Income

Fitter and Turners are multi-skilled professionals who can practice their craft in a wide variety of industries. Their responsibilities include fabricating and assembling various mechanical components for machinery and installations. To become one, you require mandatory fitter and turner courses along with engineering fitting skills acquired through apprenticeship and training.  

Fitter and Turner jobs in South Africa provide a reliable income. Labourers with the required qualifications can quickly occupy a position in factories, shipyards, mines or industrial plants among other sectors.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Fitter and Turner?

Machining is a craft that is necessary for several industries. It is a process through which a professional labourer transforms a piece of raw material into a desired shape and size. This practice is difficult for people who lack the necessary skills, which one must acquire from courses, practical learning, and work experience.

To become a fitter and turner, one must have a Matric (or min Grade 10) certificate confirming one has finished ones learning period. Some employers may require higher certifications. Generally, applicants for fitting and turning jobs can get their knowledge from courses and apprenticeships before they are eligible to earn an entry-level salary.

The job of a fitter and turner in South Africa is part of the MerSETA (Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority) directory. To be able to apply for this position, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Possess N1-N3 and/or N4-N6 certificates 
  • Have basic engineering theory, NQF Level 3, 32 credits
  • Know fitting theory, NQF Level 4, 38 credits
  • Know machining theory, NQF Level 4, 36 credits
  • Have a total number of credits for knowledge modules of 106 Credits
  •  Have 4 years of apprenticeship
  • Have a national certificate that shows you have completed fitter and turner courses 

Besides these mandatory qualifications, a fitter and turner must also prove the following traits:

  • Be physically fit for heavy work
  • Enjoy working with their hands
  • Be meticulous and accurate
  • Able to work in noisy environments
  • Have good eyesight
  • Possess excellent troubleshooting skills
  • Hold basic level knowledge of mathematics and science
  • Have a good grasp of engineering technology
  • Understand the fine process of machining
  • Be able to read 3D drawings and blueprints
  • Work calmly, carefully and with extreme precision

According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), having a fitting and turning job also implies these requirements:

  • An in-depth understanding of health and safety compliance rules
  • Basic knowledge of hand and power tools
  • An excellent grasp of the fitting and turning tools
  • A great set of communication skills
  • Patience in getting the best results out of a machining task

What is a Fitter and Turner’s Job?

Fitters and turners have to construct and put together various components that are necessary for the well-functioning of machinery and other installations. Additionally, they must be able to ensure the maintenance of such equipment and their eventual repair in case they malfunction.

A fitter and turner usually works with power-operated tools like drilling and milling machines. They have to be aware of the occupational hazards that appear when operating these tools, and which include injuries and electrocution among others.

They need to read blueprints or drawings and use them to devise parts that complete machinery. Next, they have to assemble them and test their functioning.

Their main duties include:

  • Fabricating components through machining
  • Installing or replacing components in an installation
  • Troubleshooting elements of a machinery
  • Using engineering tools of various types
  • Repairing faulty pieces
  • Fitting and turning parts
  • Ensuring the maintenance of mechanical machine components.

After finishing fitter and turner courses and four years as an apprentice, one can begin a career as a fitter and turner in sectors like:

  • Manufacturing, construction, and maintenance
  • Industrial plants and factories
  • Iron and steel plants
  • Shipyards
  • Rail, port, and pipeline
  • Fitter and turner automotive sector
  • Mines
  • Garages

How Much Does a Fitter and Turner Earn in a Year?

An impressive set of engineering fitting, turning and machining as well as having solid experience in this profession will earn you a decent yearly salary in South Africa.

At the moment, the average hourly pay for Fitters and Turners is R104.48. Depending on your level of abilities and experience, you can earn between R35 and R184 per hour in addition to which you may also receive a bonus ranging between R4,427 and R31,707 calculated for an entire year.

As a student or apprentice, you may earn only the minimum rate at first. However, in time, you can earn an average of R212, 440 per year. The most that you can make within 12 months of working as a fitter and turner in South Africa is R411k, which is well above minimum wage.

How to Work as a Fitter and Turner in South Africa

South Africa has a wide market for Fitter and Turner jobs. There is a huge demand for such professionals in numerous industries and sectors. Applicants that meet the obligatory qualifications and skills have several resources available where they can opt for this profession.

Taking fitter and turner courses increases the chances of getting a job. You can add the precious information that you get from them to the hands-on experience that you get during your apprenticeship. This way, you gain a competitive advantage over other applicants for the same position.

Working as a fitter and turner in South Africa provides you with unique opportunities for advancing your career and gaining access to a high-paying salary. With dedication, hard work and patience, you can become one of the most useful professionals in engineering in the country.

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