Plastics Technician Kaihangarau Kirihou

Plastics technicians set up, adjust, maintain and repair machines that manufacture plastic products.

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Plastics technicians may do some or all of the following:

  • design and make tools and machinery
  • set up and calibrate machines
  • set amount of plastics produced each hour
  • operate and monitor machines
  • test machines and check the quality of plastic products
  • repair and maintain tools and machines
  • write operating manuals and flow charts
  • train staff on how to use tools and machines.

Physical Requirements

Plastics technicians need to be fit and healthy as the job involves some lifting, and they spend long periods on their feet.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for plastics technicians includes:

  • work with basic engineering equipment such as welders, lathes and power tools
  • any work in the plastics, rubber or composites industry
  • work as a mechanical engineer
  • work in other factory jobs, particularly shift work.

Personal Qualities

Plastics technicians need to be:

  • good at solving problems
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • skilled in drawing up plans and instructions
  • accurate and methodical
  • able to work independently and in a team
  • responsible and safety-conscious.

Skills

Plastics technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • how plastics react to different heats and pressures
  • how to solve technical problems
  • how to operate, maintain and repair tools and machinery
  • processes used to make plastic products, and the ability to diagnose production problems
  • product standards and safety regulations
  • different chemicals, compounds and metals
  • heats and speeds needed for mechanical tasks such as welding.

Conditions

Plastics technicians:

  • either work shifts or regular business hours. They may be required to work longer hours or weekends to meet deadlines
  • work in factories, processing plants and workshops
  • may work in smelly, noisy and dusty conditions. They may also work with toxic materials, which require the use of safety equipment
  • may travel locally to clients' workplaces to install or repair products.

Subject Recommendations

NCEA Level 1 is recommended. Useful subjects include chemistry, construction and mechanical technologies, maths, processing technologies and physics.

Related Subjects

Plastics Technicians can earn around $21-$25 per hour.

Chances of getting a job as a Plastics Technician are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for plastics technicians varies depending on experience:

  • Apprentices usually earn between minimum training wage and minimum wage.
  • Plastics technicians with one to four years' experience usually earn $22 to $25 an hour.  
  • Plastics technicians with four or more years' experience can earn from $25 to $34 an hour. 

Source: Competenz, 2017.

Plastic technicians may progress to supervisory or management roles.

Plastics technicians may specialise in:

  • die setting
  • machine setting
  • plastic moulding
  • process engineering
  • product designing
  • toolmaking.

Years Of Training

3 years of training usually required.

To become a plastics technician, you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Plastics Processing Technology (Level 4).

Plastics Technician