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Become A Machinist

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Working As A Machinist

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

  • $36,220

    Average Salary

What Does A Machinist Do

A Machinist sets up and operates manual and automated equipment to ensure the precision of various parts and instruments. They monitor and control feed rate and speed, ensurethe workpiece is properly lubricated and/or cooled, and regulate the temperature of workpiece.

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.


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.


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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Machinist jobs

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Real Machinist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Machinist Nanometrics, Inc. Fishkill, NY May 17, 2011 $112,000
Machinists Daewon America, Inc. Opelika, AL Aug 24, 2012 $100,000
Machinist Yesol Corp. Montgomery, AL Feb 03, 2016 $60,000
Machinist Bell Engine & Equipment, Inc. Juneau, AK Feb 01, 2015 $58,436 -
Machinists Godwin-SBO Katy, TX Apr 02, 2013 $57,658
Can Line Promation Filler Machinist Icicle Seafoods, Inc. Seward, AK Jan 01, 1970 $55,806
Machinists Robert's Production Tools, Inc. Houston, TX Nov 04, 2010 $52,000
Machinist Sterling Sugars, LLC Franklin, LA May 19, 2015 $51,293
Machinist Sterling Sugars, LLC Franklin, LA Dec 17, 2015 $51,293
Tofu Machinist Hodo, Inc. Oakland, CA Jun 09, 2015 $51,043
Machinist C & R Hydraulics & Engineering Newport Beach, CA Jul 01, 2011 $50,794
Machinist C & H Hydraulics & Engineering Newport Beach, CA Jan 19, 2012 $50,794
Machinist Stuecklen Mfg. Co. Franklin Park, IL Jun 22, 2016 $40,123
Machinist Wall Colmonoy Corporation Madison Heights, MI Dec 28, 2007 $40,091
Machinist Edison MacHine LLP Metuchen, NJ Dec 03, 2007 $40,070
Machinist B&K Global Contracting, Inc. Norcross, GA Oct 27, 2010 $40,000
Machinist Digna MacHine Corporation Westminster, MD Feb 02, 2011 $39,936
Machinists Accel Materials, Inc. Brea, CA Aug 30, 2013 $39,916
Machinists FMC Technologies Houston, TX Dec 28, 2007 $39,874
Machinists R.A. Zweig, Inc. Glenview, IL Sep 03, 2013 $39,728
Machinist General MacHining Solutions, Inc. Burnham, IL Mar 16, 2009 $35,396
Machinists PTR 91 Inc. Farmington, CT Dec 28, 2007 $35,312
Industrial Machinist Sterling Sugars, Inc. Franklin, LA Jun 23, 2011 $35,000
Industrial Machinist Sterling Sugars, Inc. Franklin, LA Dec 15, 2010 $35,000
Industrial Machinist Sterling Sugars, Inc. Franklin, LA Dec 17, 2010 $35,000
Machinists Terry Stuckey & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 19, 2010 $33,955
Machinists Terry Stuckey & Associates, Inc. Houston, TX May 25, 2011 $33,955
Machinist P & N MacHine Co., Inc. Houston, TX May 18, 2009 $33,824

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Top Skills for A Machinist


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Top Machinist Skills

  1. CNC Lathes
  2. Machine Parts
  3. CNC Machines
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Set up and operation of numerous types of CNC lathes and mills.
  • Fabricated and developed machine parts.
  • Used manual and CNC machines, and observed drafting, metal fatigue, and common mechanical engineering and machining errors.
  • Operated various standard machines such as Milling Machines, Lathes, Surface Grinders, Bench Grinders,
  • Program, Set-Up and Run all types of equipment to manufacture machined parts.

Top Machinist Employers

Machinist Videos

Machinist (Aviation), Career Video from drkit.org

Nuclear Machinist Mate in the US Navy, Career Video from drkit.org