Sewing Machinists operate industrial sewing machines to sew and finish garments and soft furnishings such as curtains.
Formal qualifications are not usually required to work as a Sewing Machinist. Some workers have a certificate II in clothing production or applied fashion design.
threading machines, inserting bobbins and positioning parts to be sewn
starting, stopping and controlling speed of machines with pedals and knee levers to coordinate actions of presser feet, clothes guides, blades and other attachments, and guiding parts under needles, following edges, seams and markings
changing needles and adjusting, securing and modifying attachments to machines
finishing items by cutting excess material and threads
operating thread trimming and other non-sewing machines
inspecting stitching for defects and notifying repair mechanics of machine malfunctions
performing basic maintenance such as lubrication of machines
may do laying up and bundling tasks
may ticket, label and finish work
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 57% of people employed as Sewing Machinists work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 9 percentage points below the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $885 per week, this is much lower than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $791
- 1 in 4 earn more than $982
Median hourly earnings are $25, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Sewing Machinists||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Sewing Machinists work in the Manufacturing industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Sewing Machinists||All Jobs Average|
Around 66% of Sewing Machinists live in capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 62%.
Victoria has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
- Melbourne - West
- Melbourne - South East
- Sydney - Inner South West
- Sydney - South West
- Melbourne - Outer East.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Sewing Machinists is 52 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 82% of the workforce. This is 34 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Sewing Machinists||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||7.3||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not usually required to work as a Sewing Machinist. Some workers have a certificate II in clothing production or applied fashion design.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Textiles, Clothing & Footwear VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Sewing Machinists||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||0.9||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||42.9||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Sewing Machinists who are hardworking, can work well with others and are reliable.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
37%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
36%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
34%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Reading work related information.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
32%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
30%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Using maths to solve problems.
Talking to others.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Looking for ways to help people.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
33%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
25%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
24%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
16%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
14%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
13%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
13%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
12%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
10%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
10%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
8%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Keep your hand or arm steady.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Notice differences between colours, including shades of colour and brightness.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
See details that are far away.
Change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Quickly move your hand, finger, or foot when a sound, light, picture or something else appears.
Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
38%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Decide which thing is closer or further away from you, or decide how far away it is.
38%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
55%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
54%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
43%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
41%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
38%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
37%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
37%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
37%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
37%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
36%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
36%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
32%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
32%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
31%Working with mechanical equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.
30%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
28%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
28%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
27%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
25%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
25%Drafting, laying out, and specifying parts
Detailing and describing how devices, parts or equipment are to be made, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
91%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
90%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Work to strict deadlines.
86%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
85%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
81%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
78%Pace of work set by equipment
Pace of work depends on the speed of equipment or machinery.
76%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Compete with others, or be aware of competitive pressures.
Work with people in a group or team.
68%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
67%Bending or twisting your body
Spend time bending or twisting your body.
62%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
60%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
60%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
59%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
57%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
57%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-6031.00 - Sewing Machine Operators.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.