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What is a Machinist

A machinist operates machines of all imaginable kinds and nature. Usually working in factories or manufacturing plants, they are responsible for handling production equipment, making sure that the products correspond with specifications and detailed quality standards.

Whether manual or automatic, if it is a machine, the machinist will know how to deal with it. Milling, grinding, lathing, boring, drilling, cutting, you name it. The type of material they work with varies as well: steel, aluminum, titanium, plastic, and the list goes on.

Machinists read blueprints and make calculations. They feed material to machines, monitor and control processes, select and maintain tools, regulate temperature, ensure lubrication, detect and troubleshoot malfunctions. Once they made sure the work accurately follows plans and blueprints, they produce massive amounts of the same item.

You can tell a good machinist by the dexterity of his/her or her hands. They are precise and detail-oriented people with excellent analytical skills, physical stamina, and ample knowledge of metals and other materials.

What Does a Machinist 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.

Learn more about what a Machinist does

How To Become a Machinist

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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And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. General Electric Jobs (133)
  2. Honeywell Jobs (81)
  3. Dana Jobs (64)
  4. Boeing Jobs (87)
  5. Weatherford International Jobs (62)
Average Salary
$45,540
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
1%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
13,245
Job Openings
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Average Salary for a Machinist

Machinists in America make an average salary of $45,540 per year or $22 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $63,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $32,000 per year.
Average Salary
$45,540
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12 Machinist Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Machinist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Machinist resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Machinist Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. General Electric Jobs (133)
  2. Honeywell Jobs (81)
  3. Dana Jobs (64)
  4. Boeing Jobs (87)
  5. Weatherford International Jobs (62)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Machinist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Machinist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Machinist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Machinist Resume
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Machinist Demographics

Machinist Gender Distribution

Male
Male
93%
Female
Female
7%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among Machinists, 7.4% of them are women, while 92.6% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Machinists is White, which makes up 74.4% of all Machinists.

  • The most common foreign language among Machinists is Spanish at 65.2%.

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Machinist Education

Machinist Majors

12.6 %

Machinist Degrees

High School Diploma

40.2 %

Associate

25.8 %

Bachelors

15.4 %
Job Openings

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Online Courses For Machinist That You May Like

Fusion 360 tutorial for CNC machinists
udemy
4.5
(445)

CAD CAM training for CNC machinists using fusion 360...

CNC Milling machine programming using G-Code
udemy
4.3
(256)

Learning to read and write CNC programs with FANUC G Code has never been so easy...

Introduction to CNC Programming
udemy
4.4
(1,186)

Learn to program CNC Routers and CNC Milling machines that use the GCODE language...

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Top Skills For a Machinist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 20.4% of Machinists listed CNC on their resume, but soft skills such as Analytical skills and Manual dexterity are important as well.

  • CNC, 20.4%
  • Machine Parts, 16.4%
  • Shop Equipment, 9.7%
  • Micrometers, 8.5%
  • Hand Tools, 5.6%
  • Other Skills, 39.4%

Best States For a Machinist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Machinist. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Connecticut. Machinists make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $56,838. Whereas in Massachusetts and Nevada, they would average $53,426 and $53,001, respectively. While Machinists would only make an average of $51,801 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Oregon

Total Machinist Jobs:
126
Highest 10% Earn:
$75,000
Location Quotient:
2.04
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Machinist Jobs:
85
Highest 10% Earn:
$67,000
Location Quotient:
3.25
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Machinist Jobs:
110
Highest 10% Earn:
$74,000
Location Quotient:
2.22
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Machinists

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Top Machinist Employers

Most Common Employers For Machinist

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Machinist SalaryAverage Salary
1$55,521
2$53,698
3$47,526
4$47,183
5$46,868
6$46,827

Machinist Videos

Becoming a Machinist FAQs

How long does it take to become a Machinist?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a machinist. That is the time it takes to learn specific machinist skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education.

Do machinists make good money?

Yes, machinists make good money. They average $46,120 per year, with the top 25% earning $55,910 or more. Considering no formal degree is required, a machinist can make a decent living.

The range in what a machinist can make is impacted by factors such as location and number of years of experience.

Do you need a degree to be a machinist?

No, you don't need a degree to be a machinist. A high school diploma is all you need to start your career as a machinist. In addition, certification such as the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) is recommended.

How much does a machinist make a year?

A machinist makes around $42.640 a year. This can range anywhere from $22,600 a year to $67,000 a year. The variation in pay stems from factors such as the number of years of experience and location.

Is a machinist a good career?

Yes, being a machinist is a good career. With the minimal educational requirements, high starting salary, and positive job outlook, a career as a Machinist is a great opportunity for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.

Is it hard to become a machinist?

No, it's not hard to become a machinist. One of the best things about becoming a machinist is the fairly low barrier to gaining an entry-level position. In fact, many machinists start working right out of high school. Most companies provide on-the-job training.

What does machinist mean?

A machinist means someone who uses machinery tools to fabricate parts according to the parameters specified in blueprints, also known as technical drawings. Machinists are tradespeople or trained professionals who operate machine tools to shape metal or other materials into other items.

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