Sewing machinist

sewing machine operator seamstress

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would stitch pieces of material together to make products such as clothes and furniture.

You would:

  • Choose the right sewing machine settings for each job
  • Feed fabric sections through the machine
  • Stitch together clothing or fabric products
  • Check that finished work matches pattern instructions
  • Clean, oil and look after machines
  • Follow health and safety guidelines

You would need to be good at following plans.

You could specialise on one machine such as a flatbed, or use a number of machines to produce different finishes. You might also use computerised sewing machines that read from a digital design pattern.

You may work with a variety of fabrics, such as cotton, synthetics, wool and leather, and on a number of different product lines. You may stitch industrial textiles, for example those used in making sails or car mats.

Working conditions


In a full-time job you would usually work around 40 hours a week. This could be on a shift basis, and early starts are common. There may be opportunities for overtime or part-time hours.


You would normally work as part of a team in a factory and spend most of your time sitting at a machine. The work can be repetitive and factories can be noisy.

UK employment status



Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Working on your own
  • Accuracy
  • Working with your hands
  • Making things
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5. 

It may be helpful to gain a fashion and textile National Certificate, National Qualification or BTEC Diploma (SCQF level 5/6).

To enter a relevant National Certificate, National Qualification or BTEC Diploma (SCQF level 5/6) you will require a minimum of four subjects at National 4 or three subjects at National 5.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Fashion and Textile technologies

Helpful to have

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Manufacturing Textile Products (SVQ level 1/2/3) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.