Wood Processing Worker Kaimahi Kani Rākau

Wood processing workers set up and use woodworking machinery to cut logs into timber for building, furniture and other products.

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Wood processing workers may do some or all of the following:

  • operate sawmill machinery, log loaders and forklifts
  • sort, stack and grade timber
  • trim timber pieces to a standard length
  • record timber sizes and grades and the amount of timber in the yard
  • design and make templates and knives
  • check and maintain equipment
  • clean the work areas and equipment
  • package and wrap timber for delivery.

Physical Requirements

Wood processing workers need to have a good level of health and fitness. They also need to have normal colour vision and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for wood processing workers includes:

  • work in the timber or forestry industries
  • work with heavy machinery
  • engineering experience.

Personal Qualities

Wood processing workers need to be:

  • practical
  • careful and efficient
  • safety-conscious
  • able to remain calm under pressure.


Wood processing workers need to have knowledge of:

  • the sawmill process
  • timber characteristics
  • the sizes and grades of timber required for different products
  • safety procedures
  • mechanical skills for doing basic maintenance on machinery.


Wood processing workers:

  • work regular business hours, but may do shift work and work weekends
  • work in sawmills and timber yards, and may work in noisy and dusty conditions.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a wood processing worker. However, construction and mechanical technologies, maths and processing technologies are useful.

Wood Processing Workers can earn around $47K-$50K per year.

Pay for wood processing workers varies depending on experience.

  • Trainee wood processing workers usually earn minimum wage or a little more a year.
  • Qualified wood processing workers can earn up to $50,000.

Source: Competenz, 2017.

Wood processing workers may progress into management or supervisory roles.

Wood processing workers may specialise in:

  • finger jointing
  • timber machining.


Years Of Training

1-2 years of training required.

To become a wood processing worker you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Solid Wood Manufacturing (Level 2 to Level 4). Competenz oversees apprenticeships.

A forklift licence is useful.

Wood Processing Worker