What Do Machinists Do?
Machinists are an integral part of the skilled trades, and are vital to ensuring that production of goods is possible around the nation. They are responsible for producing precision instruments and parts, as well as modifying, fabricating and repairing mechanical instruments as needed. If you choose to become a machinist, you may be required to apply your knowledge of metal properties, mechanics and machining procedures to maintain industrial machines or repair machine tools.
Machinists Skills and Abilities
To be a successful machinist, you should have the ability to think critically, and monitor the operation in progress to ensure that all is going as it should. This involves watching dials, gauges and other equipment for danger signs that something is amiss. When something is wrong, you need to be able to take appropriate action to return the project to working order. The job requires you to have extensive knowledge in mathematics, mechanics, the production and processing of raw materials, and design.Things like hand-eye coordination, steadiness of the arms and hands, and manual dexterity are essential abilities for machinists. You should also be able to repeatedly and quickly make adjustments to the controls of a machine or other equipment to ensure that precision positions are reached. This requires finger dexterity and mulilimb coordination.
If you become a machinist, you will be required to perform a wide variety of tasks across the industry, depending on your given assignments. You could be asked to machine parts to industry specifications, checks completed parts or units for defects, or maintain machine tools to ensure they are in complete working order. Other common duties include:
- Calculate tolerances or dimensions
- Precision machining operations
- Monitor machining process
- Fabricate products using sample parts, drawings or blueprints
- Diagnose malfunctions in machinery
All duties of a machinist revolve around gaining information, controlling processes and machines and determining how best to make decisions to solve problems.
Machinists Tools and Technology
Machinists abundantly use tools and technology to perform their daily tasks. As a machinist, you will have to know how to use analytical and scientific software, email, facilities management programs, and CAD and CAM software. You will also have to have an excellent knowledge of how to use calipers, boring machines, drill or radial drill presses and height gauges. A horizontal turning center is also a key piece of equipment for machinists.
Education and Training for Machinists
To become a highly qualified machinist, you will need to enter a Machine Shop Technology/Assistant or Machine Tool Technology/Machinist program after receiving a high school diploma or its equivalent. These programs offer on-the-job training, or apprenticeships, so you can get your education and job experience at the same time. There are few alternative routes into the field, so the traditional path is ideal for all who want to pursue this career. Few machinists go on to pursue associate or college degrees because skilled training within a program or apprenticeship makes any further education unnecessary for success in the field.
Experienced machinists can make a very good living. Wages begin at around $24,600 a year, but the median worker averages around $40,000 a year. If you become one of the top 10% of your field, you can expect to make around $60,700 a year.
Machinists Jobs by Geography
The states with the greatest number of machinists include Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and California. However, those in the industry who receive the highest median wage in the nation work in Hawaii, Alaska and the District of Columbia. Most workers find employment in machine shops and metalworking machinery manufacturing, although a small amount find successful positions in the manufacturing of motor vehicle parts or the production of parts for the aerospace industry.