What Is Aerospace Machining?

Aerospace machining deals with how airplane and spacecraft parts are made. Learn more about aerospace machining, as well as the field's career opportunities, job outlook, and salary information, by reading below. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Industry Defined

Aerospace refers to the Earth's atmosphere and the space that surrounds it. Machining refers to the practice of using tools to create parts and bits used in production. Aerospace machining, therefore, is the creation of parts used in assembling and maintaining air and space vehicles.

Important Facts About Aerospace Machinists

Work EnvironmentManufacturing, including machine shops, toolrooms, and factories
Key SkillsSet up and operate machine tools, work off blueprints or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files, inspect completed products for defects, and perform a litany of techniques to machine parts to product specifications
Professional Certification Machinist certification available through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills
Similar OccupationsMetal and plastic machine workers, welders, solderers, and industrial machinery mechanics

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Opportunities

If you work in aerospace machining, then you'll most likely be employed as a machinist. In this career, you'll work with tools like grinders and lathes to create precise parts used for aircraft and spacecrafts. You'll normally create multiple parts for specific models of aircraft and then send the parts off to a buyer who uses them in production. You might choose to specialize in machining parts for either maintenance or production.

Maintenance Machinists

Maintenance machinists help breathe new life into aerospace machines by conducting repairs or creating parts for machines that are still in use. After a maintenance or industrial worker gives you a broken part, you'll determine whether to fix the part or simply create a new one. If you choose to create a replacement part, you'll use blueprints to accurately replicate the original component.

Production Machinists

Production machinists, on the other hand, focus on creating large amounts of one specific component. You may use a computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine to oversee all aspects of the component-making process, such as controlling the speed of the cutting tool, changing tools, and making cuts to form the components. You'll also determine the feed rate and set paths for cutting to ensure that the parts come out precisely. You may also work with computer programmers to develop the CNC software used in cutting.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), jobs for machinists were expected to grow by two percent from 2016 to 2026. Despite increased efficiency caused by advancements in technology, all of the new machines must be supervised and run by knowledgeable workers.

Machinists employed in natural gas distribution earned a mean annual wage of $93,740 as of May 2018, according to the BLS. This wage is higher than the national average for machinists in general, who earned a mean annual wage of $45,250.

Educational Opportunities

You may begin preparing for this career in high school by taking advanced math classes, like geometry, calculus, and trigonometry. You might also benefit from taking drafting, metalwork, and physics classes. With these foundations, you may go on to complete postsecondary training through a technical school or an apprenticeship program through an employer or union. College programs usually last two years and result in associate's degrees, while apprenticeships can last up to four years. After obtaining employment, you'll likely complete extensive on-the-job training as an assistant machinist before advancing to machinist status.

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