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Become A Grinder

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Working As A Grinder

  • Getting Information
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Grinder Do

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

Duties

Machinists typically do the following:

  • Work from blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble manual, automatic, and computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) machine tools
  • Align, secure, and adjust cutting tools and workpieces
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines
  • Turn, mill, drill, shape, and grind machine parts to specifications
  • Measure, examine, and test completed products for defects
  • Smooth the surfaces of parts or products
  • Present finished workpieces to customers and make modifications if needed

Tool and die makers typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints, sketches, specifications, or CAD and CAM files for making tools and dies
  • Compute and verify dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of workpieces
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble conventional, manual, and CNC machine tools
  • File, grind, and adjust parts so that they fit together properly
  • Test completed tools and dies to ensure that they meet specifications
  • Smooth and polish the surfaces of tools and dies

Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts. Many machinists must be able to use both manual and CNC machinery. CNC machines control the cutting tool speed and do all necessary cuts to create a part. The machinist determines the cutting path, the speed of the cut, and the feed rate by programming instructions into the CNC machine.

Although workers may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. The parts that machinists make range from simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Hydraulic parts, antilock brakes, and automobile pistons are other widely known products that machinists make.

Some machinists repair or make new parts for existing machinery. After an industrial machinery mechanic discovers a broken part in a machine, a machinist remanufactures the part. The machinist refers to blueprints and performs the same machining operations that were used to create the original part in order to create the replacement.

Because the technology of machining is changing rapidly, workers must learn to operate a wide range of machines. Some newer manufacturing processes use lasers, water jets, and electrified wires to cut the workpiece. Although some of the computer controls are similar to those of other machine tools, machinists must understand the unique capabilities and features of different machines. As engineers create new types of machine tools, machinists must learn new machining properties and techniques.

Toolmakers craft precision tools that are used to cut, shape, and form metal and other materials. They also produce jigs and fixtures—devices that hold metal while it is bored, stamped, or drilled—and gauges and other measuring devices.

Die makers construct metal forms, called dies, that are used to shape metal in stamping and forging operations. They also make metal molds for die casting and for molding plastics, ceramics, and composite materials.

Many tool and die makers use CAD to develop products and parts. Designs are entered into computer programs that produce blueprints for the required tools and dies. Computer-numeric control programmers, found in the metal and plastic machine workers profile, convert CAD designs into CAM programs that contain instructions for a sequence of cutting tool operations. Once these programs are developed, CNC machines follow the set of instructions contained in the program to produce the part. Machinists normally operate CNC machines, but tool and die makers often are trained to both operate CNC machines and write CNC programs and thus may do either task.

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How To Become A Grinder

There are many different ways to become a machinist or tool and die maker. Machinists train in apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community or technical colleges, or on the job. To become a fully trained tool and die maker takes several years of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Good math and problem-solving skills, in addition to familiarity with computer software, are important. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary.

Education

Machinists and tool and die makers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In high school, students should take math courses, especially trigonometry and geometry. They also should take courses in blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting, if available.

Some advanced positions, such as those in the aircraft manufacturing industry, require the use of advanced applied calculus and physics. The increasing use of computer-controlled machinery requires machinists and tool and die makers to have experience using computers before entering a training program.

Some community colleges and technical schools have 2-year programs that train students to become machinists or tool and die makers. These programs usually teach design and blueprint reading, how to use a variety of welding and cutting tools, and the programming and function of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

Training

There are multiple ways for workers to gain competency in the job as a tool or die maker. One common way is through long-term on-the-job training, which lasts 1 year or longer.

Apprenticeship programs, typically sponsored by a manufacturer, provide another way to become a machinist or tool and die maker, but they are often hard to get into. Apprentices usually have a high school diploma or equivalent, and most have taken algebra and trigonometry classes.

Apprenticeship programs often consist of paid shop training and related technical instruction lasting several years. The technical instruction typically is provided in cooperation with local community colleges and vocational–technical schools.

Apprentices usually work 40 hours per week and receive technical instruction during evenings. Trainees often begin as machine operators and gradually take on more difficult assignments. Machinists and tool and die makers must be experienced in using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines. Some machinists become tool and die makers.

A number of machinists and tool and die makers receive their technical training from community and technical colleges. Employees may learn this way while being employed by a manufacturer that supports the employee’s training goals and provides needed on-the-job training as well.

Even after completing a formal training program, tool and die makers still need years of experience to become highly skilled.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

To boost the skill level of machinists and tool and die makers and to create a more uniform standard of competency, a number of training facilities and colleges offer certification programs. The Skills Certification System, for example, is an industry-driven program that aims to align education pathways with career pathways. In addition, journey-level certification is available from state apprenticeship boards after completing an apprenticeship.

Completing a recognized certification program provides machinists and tool and die makers with better job opportunities and helps employers judge the abilities of new hires.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must understand highly technical blueprints, models, and specifications so that they can craft precision tools and metal parts. 

Manual dexterity. The work of machinists and tool and die makers must be highly accurate. For example, machining parts may demand accuracy to within .0001 of an inch, a level of accuracy that requires workers’ concentration and dexterity.

Math skills and computer application experience. Workers must have good math skills and be experienced using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines.

Mechanical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must operate milling machines, lathes, grinders, laser and water cutting machines, wire electrical discharge machines, and other machine tools. They may also use a variety of hand tools and power tools.

Physical stamina. The ability to endure extended periods of standing and performing repetitious movements is important for machinists and tool and die makers.

Technical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must understand computerized measuring machines and metalworking processes, such as stock removal, chip control, and heat treating and plating.

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Grinder Jobs

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Grinder Career Paths

Grinder
Machine Operator Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Foreman Manager
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Technician Production Supervisor
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Welder Electrician Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Electrician Superintendent
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Electrician Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Computer Numerical Controller Machinist Tool And Die Maker
Mold Maker
6 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Buyer Warehouse Manager
Warehouse Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Buyer Production Manager
Manufacturing Director
14 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Technician Shop Foreman
Shop Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Machinist Tool And Die Maker
Die Maker
5 Yearsyrs
Machinist Computer Numerical Controller Machinist Numerical Control Programmer
Machine Shop Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Logistics Coordinator
Shipping Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Machinist Mechanic Shop Foreman
Shop Lead
5 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Computer Numerical Controller Machinist Numerical Control Programmer
Lead Machinist
6 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Tool And Die Maker Mold Maker
Prototype Machinist
8 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Quality Assurance Technician Line Leader
Cell Leader
5 Yearsyrs
Press Brake Operator Numerical Control Programmer Lead Machinist
Machinist Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Grinder Demographics

Gender

Male

81.2%

Unknown

9.9%

Female

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

66.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

10.2%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

73.5%

Polish

8.8%

Japanese

2.9%

French

2.9%

Hmong

2.9%

Portuguese

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.5%

German

1.5%

Cherokee

1.5%

Carrier

1.5%

Korean

1.5%
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Grinder Education

Schools

The Academy

8.2%

Clackamas Community College

8.2%

Fox Valley Technical College

7.1%

University of Phoenix

7.1%

Tulsa Welding School

6.3%

Stark State College

6.3%

Cuyahoga Community College

6.3%

Baker College

5.9%

New Castle School of Trades

5.5%

Muskegon Community College

4.7%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

3.9%

Macomb Community College

3.9%

Gateway Technical College

3.9%

Moraine Park Technical College

3.5%

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

3.5%

Lane Community College

3.1%

Houston Community College

3.1%

A-Technical College

3.1%

Portland Community College

3.1%

Piedmont Technical College

3.1%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

15.5%

Business

13.9%

General Studies

10.3%

Automotive Technology

8.6%

Computer Science

6.1%

Criminal Justice

6.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.5%

Industrial Technology

4.0%

Education

4.0%

Electrical Engineering

3.2%

Accounting

2.8%

Drafting And Design

2.7%

Graphic Design

2.5%

Information Technology

2.5%

Mechanical Engineering

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Management

2.3%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.1%

Psychology

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

52.6%

Associate

16.5%

Certificate

12.1%

Bachelors

11.3%

Diploma

4.9%

Masters

2.1%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$49,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$26,000
Min 10%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Median 50%
$92,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Oberg Industries
Highest Paying City
Portland, OR
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.1 years
How much does a Grinder make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Grinder in the United States is $49,404 per year or $24 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $26,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $92,000.

Real Grinder Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Grinder Dream Renovations, LLC. Stone Mountain, GA Jan 01, 2016 $36,543
Stone Grinder Boston Bluestone Stoughton, MA Jan 23, 2008 $32,453
Stump Grinder Tree Tech, Inc. NJ Mar 12, 2010 $31,305
Grinder Buddy Bar Casting South Gate, CA Sep 14, 2012 $31,000 -
$31,200
Grinder Dream Renovations, LLC GA Feb 11, 2015 $29,969
Grinder-Polisher F & S Complete Grinding, Inc. Elk Grove Village, IL Jul 20, 2010 $22,727
Grinder Valley Industrial Coating, LLC. TX Oct 01, 2013 $17,823
Grinder Valley Industrial Coating, LLC. TX Nov 27, 2013 $17,823
Grinder EJV Sandblasting & Coating, LLC. TX Jan 01, 2014 $17,823

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Top Skills for A Grinder

  1. Stainless Steel
  2. Grind Welds
  3. Hand Tools
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Use pneumatic hand tools to grind and polish stainless steel to FDA standards.
  • Grind welds, bevel edges of pipe, finish grinding, smooth out imperfections, fill out paperwork and clean up.
  • Mount and position tools in machine chucks, spindles, or other tool holding devices, using hand tools.
  • Maintained workplace safety and followed established safety procedures.
  • Grind, sand, or polish, using tools or hand-held power tools or metal pipe.

How Would You Rate Working As a Grinder?

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Top Grinder Employers

Jobs From Top Grinder Employers

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