If you're looking for a rewarding career that helps shape the future, you might want to learn how to become a machinist. Operating and maintaining machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders is a critical part of our developing infrastructure. Machinists use these to grind, shape, and produce precision parts from materials like metal and plastic.
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What is a machinist and what do they do at work?
A machinist is a skilled trade worker who specializes in operating and maintaining various types of machines to create precision parts and tools. Their work involves using blueprints, specifications, and computer-aided design software to determine the necessary materials and dimensions for a given project.
A typical day in the life of a machinist might start with reviewing job orders and blueprints to understand the required specifications and dimensions. Next they would select and set up the appropriate machines and tools, ensuring they are calibrated correctly. Throughout the day they'd monitor the process to ensure accuracy and adjust settings as needed.
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Is becoming a machinist difficult?
Becoming a machinist requires a certain level of education, skills, and experiences, making it a moderately challenging career path. While a college degree is not always essential, having a strong foundation in mathematics and technical subjects is crucial.
Workers in this trade need to have a solid understanding of machine tools, materials, and manufacturing processes. Proficiency in operating and programming different types of machines like lathes, milling machines, and CNC equipment is also vital.
Hands-on experience and real-world practice are essential to mastering the craft. Many of these skills can be earned in entry-level positions that gradually progress to more advanced roles.
Examples of job titles and certifications include CNC machinist, tool and die maker, machine operator, and manufacturing engineer. Certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) or the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA) can validate skills and knowledge.
What is the average salary for machinists?
The average salary for machinists varies depending on level of experience and expertise, as well as job title, industry, and location.
According to the latest data, apprentice machinists in America can expect to earn an
around $33,720 per year. At the journeyman level, their average salary increases to around $48,510. Master machinists, with years of experience and expertise, earn an average salary of $71,820 or higher.
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How to become a machinist in the United States
Before you can expect to have job opportunities pouring in, there are a number of simple steps you must follow to become the type of person most employers are looking to hire.
Get a high school diploma or equivalent credential
Getting a high school diploma or equivalent credential is crucial for anyone looking to pursue a career in skilled trades. Secondary education provides a solid foundation for students to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills required in the industry.
Subjects such as mathematics, geometry, and trigonometry are essential in skilled trades because they form the basis of problem-solving and critical thinking.
Taking courses in drafting, metalworking, and blueprint reading can provide practical insights into machining. These skills are highly valued in industries that require precise measurements and the ability to interpret technical drawings.
Getting a high school education or GED demonstrates your commitment to education but also opens up a world of opportunities.
that effectively highlights relevant experience and technical and soft skills is crucial for finding work in most skilled trades.SkillHero's resume builder is equipped with a database of skills vetted by industry professionals.
After adding your information to our streamlined template, you can add the most relevant skills to your resume with a few clicks. You can also easily export your resume as a PDF or share it with employers and mentors directly on the platform.
The app also gives you direct access to a national job market, allowing you to apply to multiple openings in different locations that interest you.
Find an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship programs play a crucial role in the early stages of a machinist’s career. They provide invaluable hands-on training and mentorship, helping new workers master their craft through practical experience.
Machinist apprenticeships bridge the gap between theory and practice, creating professionals who are ready to contribute to the industry in a meaningful way.
Finding apprenticeships can be a challenge, but SkillHero simplifies the process. With our app, students and aspiring trade workers can discover a range of apprenticeship options.
For those interested in apprenticeships in machining, SkillHero provides a platform to connect with local manufacturing companies and machine shops, which are key sources of entry-level opportunities.
A typical machinist apprenticeship will last 48 months and focus on a specific career path such as aerospace or automotive. As they gain experience and demonstrate competencies, apprentices may receive more responsibility to prepare them for a leadership role.
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Continue your education and upgrade certifications
Continuing your education and regularly upgrading your certifications is crucial in this challenging trade. As technology advances, machinists must stay updated with the latest techniques and tools to excel in their field.
One effective way to maintain your education is to join professional organizations such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). These organizations offer certification programs, workshops, and resources that help machinists to enhance their skills and knowledge.
Attending conferences and webinars is another excellent option for machinists to stay updated with industry trends. These events provide opportunities to learn from experts, gain insights into new technologies, and network with other professionals in the field.
Completing advanced courses is also beneficial for your career. Trade schools, vocational schools, and even universities offer specialized programs that help machinists develop advanced skills and broaden their knowledge base. Pursuing a bachelor's degree or associate degree can open up new career paths with better income and benefits or more flexibility.
Who should become a machinist?
A successful and happy machinist will often be someone who possesses a strong inclination towards precision metalworking and a passion for detail-oriented work. Manual dexterity and an aptitude for problem-solving are essential traits that contribute to a machinist's success.
If you're passionate about working with your hands, possess strong analytical skills, and have an interest in computer-controlled machinery, a career as a machinist could be a perfect fit for you.