How to Become a Machinist

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014



Machining is an essential part of the manufacturing process that deals with using machine tools to make and alter a variety of parts. Machinists are trained workers that use a variety of machine tools to produce many different parts for a various purposes.

What does a machinist do?

Machinists use machine tools such as machining centers, milling machines, drill press, and lathes to create precision metal parts. They read detailed instructions, calculate the areas to cut, determine the speed of machines, how much material to use, and choose the required tools for the job. They use a variety of materials such as aluminum, steel, plastic, silicon, and many other materials. They must accurately position the work piece and consistently monitor the machine’s feed rate and speed. Machinists also make sure the work pieces are lubricated and cooled properly because machining processes often create a lot of heat. They detect potential problems during cutting processes and compare finished products with blueprints to ensure accuracy.

What kind of training does a machinist need?

Machinists must have at least a high school education. Many machinists gain their skills on the job and others complete formal training programs through community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and apprenticeships. Formal apprenticeship programs are usually sponsored by a manufacturer or union and consist of classroom instruction and paid on the job training. Apprentices learn a variety of topics such as physics, math, materials science, mechanical drawing blueprint reading, and safety and quality practices. They also learn how to operate a variety of machine tools. An increasing amount of machinists are completing recognized certification programs to remain competitive in the field. When new automation and policies are introduced employers usually provide additional training to machinists to update their skills.

What are the prospects for a career as a machinist?

Employment of machinists is expected to decline slowly, decreasing 3% through 2016. Strong foreign competition in the manufacturing of goods will contribute to the employment decline.

Despite the job decline job prospects should be good. Machinists with a wide range of skills will have the best job opportunities. Many job openings will also occur from the need to replace machinists that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do machinists make?

As of this year, the middle 50% of machinists earn annual salaries between $31,654 and $42,411. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $48,009.

A career as a machinist is a great choice for people with a strong interest in creating a variety of parts in the manufacturing process. Machinists must have solid knowledge of the working properties of metals and other materials. They must also have a strong mechanical aptitude and good problem solving abilities. Accuracy, detail orientation, and physical stamina are desirable characteristics for anyone considering whether and how to become a machinist. Machinists must be able to effectively work independently and exercise caution when handling hazardous materials.

Becoming a Machinist Requires Skills & Training Start Today

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Are you serious about becoming a Machinist ? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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