Roll Turner

The trade name of a 'roll turner' is descriptive of the work. A metal blank is formed (turned) to a specific shape required for the rolling of steel in a rolling mill. Railway rails are one of the products made by roll turners.

At rolling mills metals are shaped by passing heated metal blocks back and forth between the specially formed rolls of a mill stand, until the desired shape and length have been obtained. Roll turners form and shape these sets of rolls by means of lathes and specially prepared tools such as templates (patterns) until they conform to the specified shape.

Working from blueprints, roll turners clamp steel blocks in giant lathes and cut the desired grooves into the steel blocks, using cutting tools. Roll turners constantly check the shape and size of the grooves on the roll against a template (pattern). In this way the rolls, to be used in rolling mills to shape other steel blocks, are manufactured.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • meticulously accurate
  • able to concentrate for long periods
  • very careful worker
  • responsible
  • enjoy working with your hands


  • large engineering enterprises
  • Transnet
  • Mittal Steel
  • such companies as Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a large engineering company
  • arrange to speak to a roll turner about this type of career
  • contact the Department of Labour about learnership possibilities in your area


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to and a Student Advisor will call you back.

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