Machinist: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook and Education Requirements

Machinists use tools to create precision parts that are installed in various devices. Most employers seek machinists who have studied the craft at a trade school or through an apprenticeship. Read on to find out if you have what you need to become a machinist. Schools offering Machining & Manufacturing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

After receiving on-the-job or trade school training, machinists use tools like lathes, machining centers, center punches, scribes, and tap wrenches to make precise parts that allow larger devices to operate. Machinists work with a wide variety of materials and many use computer programs that assist in machining work. They are also responsible for the upkeep of their tools.

Responsibilities Blueprint reading, part creation and tool replacement; operation of computer and mechanically controlled machine tools
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)* 2% (slower than the national average)
Education High school diploma or equivalent; training is available for machinists through apprenticeships, community and technical colleges, and vocational schools; on-the-job training is common

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Duties and Responsibilities?

Many of the parts that machinists make must meet exact specifications that take a detailed eye and skilled hand to create. Machinists study blueprints before beginning a job and review those blueprints after a job is completed to ensure that parts have been made correctly.

Machinists most often work with various metals, including aluminum, copper, and steel, but may also use other materials, such as plastics or wood. They might create a single one-of-a-kind part or produce a batch containing thousands of pieces. During what is known as the cutting process, machinists must listen carefully to make sure their tools remain sharp and effective; if not, they must replace these parts as soon as possible. To make precision parts, they work with different types of machines, like grinders, milling machines, and lathes. Machinists also do the following:

  • Operate computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools
  • Grind machine parts based on specifications
  • Review computer-aided design (CAD) files
  • Monitor the speed of machines
  • Test products for defects
  • Modify finished products

To perform these tasks, you should have mechanical, technical, analytical, computer, and math skills. You should also have dexterity in order to achieve accuracy and physical stamina to stand for long periods of time.

What Kind of Employment Can I Expect?

There were an estimated 396,200 machinists working in the U.S. in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2016 to 2026, the number of jobs in the field is expected to grow by 2%, which is slower than average. As of May 2017, the annual median wage for machinists was $42,600, according to the BLS; those at the top of the profession made more than $63,790 a year. As a result of older machinists retiring, it is expected that job prospects will be good, despite the low growth rate.

What Education Do I Need?

Machinists usually have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most firms that hire machinists seek job candidates who have apprenticed at a machine shop or attended a trade school. In any machinist training program, students explore proper safety techniques. They also learn to use, calculate, and repair various tools and to set up machining equipment. Most training programs take up to two years to complete.

The Skills Certification System is one of many certification programs for machinists. Additionally, state apprenticeship boards offer journey-level certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Lincoln Tech

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    • Certificates

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    • New Jersey: Mahwah
  • Southern Careers Institute

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    • Texas: Harlingen, Pharr
  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Fortis College

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    • Ohio: Cuyahoga Falls
  • Dunwoody College of Technology

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    • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

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    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Nashville State Technical Community College

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    • Tennessee: Nashville
  • York Technical College

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    • South Carolina: Rock Hill
  • Northern Michigan University

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    • Michigan: Marquette
  • Yavapai College

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    • Arizona: Prescott