Timber Machinist (Sawmilling)


Sawmill workers perform practical tasks in a sawmill or timber yard, which may include operating machinery to cut and process logs into timber.

Tasks and Duties:

  • record timber sizes and grades
  • record the amount of timber in the yard
  • sort and stack timber
  • operate sawmill machinery
  • grade timber
  • trim timber pieces to a standard length
  • clean the work areas and equipment
  • supervise other sawmill workers.


Sawmill workers need to be good at following instructions and need to have good communication skills. They should also have basic maths and computer skills.


Sawmill workers need to know about the sawmill process. They need to know about the characteristics of different types of timber, and the sizes and grades required for different timber products. They also need to know how to do basic maintenance of machinery. Knowledge of safety procedures in a sawmill is essential.

Personal Qualities:

Sawmill workers need to be self-motivated, practical and reliable. They need to be careful and efficient, with an eye for detail. They also need to be safety-conscious and able to remain calm under pressure.

Physical Requirements:

Sawmill workers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination and should be fit, healthy and strong. They need to have normal colour vision and quick reactions.

Educational Requirements:

NCEA Level 1 in English, maths and workshop technology are preferred. A tertiary qualification such as the National Certificate in Solid Wood Processing is useful for becoming a sawmill worker.

Entry Requirements:

A drivers license is generally preferred and a fork-lift license may be useful.

Useful Experience

Useful experience includes work in the timber or forest industry, work with heavy machinery and engineering experience.

Training on the job

Sawmill workers are mainly trained on the job and can complete qualifications while working. For further information about training and Modern Apprenticeships contact Forest Industries Training.

Work Places

Sawmill workers work inside in sawmills and outside in timber yards.


Salary varies, but usually ranges between $30,000 and $40,000 per year

Further Information

Forest Industries Training
NZ Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Inc
NZ Forest Industries Council

Website link