Machinist Job Description

Machinists use equipment such as grinders, milling machines, and lathes to produce precision metal parts. Automobile pistons, steel bolts, and hydraulic parts are all examples of items that a machinist might create.

Though all machinists perform the same basic function, there are two distinct types of machinists.

Maintenance machinists build or repair parts for machines. They are provided specifications for the required parts, and then either create them from scratch or determine how an existing part can be repaired. They normally have to reference blueprints or schematics during this process to ensure that the created part is as precise as possible.

Production machinists are very different, because they focus on producing large quantities of identical parts. They setup the machines that create the parts, and verify that the parts produced meet specifications. Use of a computer is often required to properly setup the machines.

All machinists have to learn to operate a wide variety of machines. Manufacturing equipment evolves at a very rapid pace, so there are frequent opportunities to learn new things.

Work Environment and Schedule

Machinists work on factory floors and machine shops, but their work is rarely dangerous so long as they take necessary safety precautions.

Because manufacturing facilities often operate around the clock every day of the year, machinists may be required to work irregular hours. Working nights, weekends, and holidays is common for people in this profession.

Many machinists are on call at all times, since something could go wrong with a machine or a process at any time of day. Before you decide on pursuing a career in this field, it’s important to consider how it might impact your life outside of work.

How to Become a Machinist

If you want to become a machinist, there are many different paths you can take. Technical and vocational schools offer training, and some employers are even willing to train on the job.

Machinist apprenticeships are also available, though opportunities are rare. Completing an apprenticeship can lead to more advanced job opportunities, so they’re definitely worth pursuing. You can use the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship search to locate opportunities near you.

If you are unable to find an apprenticeship but want to pursue a career as a machinist, you might want to consider earning a certification from an accredited college.

Becoming a master machinist takes many years of practice and experience with a huge variety of machinery, but their skills are highly valued.

Good math and computer skills are required for machinist jobs. A strong background in algebra and trigonometry are required. And because more and more precision equipment is operated by computers, a strong technical background is becoming more important with each passing year.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 370,400 machinists in the United States, with 9,950 new machinist job openings created each year.

Machinist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Machinist Salaries

Overall Salaries

Machinist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most machinists make between $31,200 – $48,200 per year, or $14.99 – $23.17 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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