What a Career as a Machinist Looks Like

What Does a Machinist Do?

Most of the items you use in your daily life are made up of multiple components and parts. While you might not spend much time thinking about the makeup or design of everyday objects, someone had to take the time not only to those objects together, but also to cut out and create the parts they are made up of.

The person responsible for creating parts, usually made of metal, but occasionally of plastic, wood, or other materials, is a machinist. If the idea of creating things excites you, a career as a machinist might be right for you. Learn more about what a machinist does on the job and how you can become one.

A Day on the Job as a Machinist

Machinists typically work in shops or in manufacturing facilities, such as factories that produce cars and trucks. While the majority of machinists work with metal, a small portion work in facilities that produce plastic parts.

Usually, machinists work 9-5, five days a week, for a full-time schedule of 40 hours. Depending on the needs and operation of the facility, though, some machinists might work the early or late shift or overnight shift. If the facility they work for has a lot of orders or a high production volume, a machinist might find themselves working over 40 hours per week.

During a workday, a machinist might use either manual tools or computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinery. CNC tools create the cuts needed to produce the parts and also control the speed of the cut. Manual tools are operated by hand and usually require a good amount of skill and precision during their operation. Some of the tools you’re likely to use as a machinist include mills, lathes and grinding machines.

The parts a machinist might create include mass-produced pieces as well as unique, one-of-a-kind parts. Some examples of the components machinists create include screws, bolts, brakes, and pistons.

Skills a Machinist Uses

As a machinist, you may be responsible for creating small, intricate parts. For that reason, it’s vital that a machinist have excellent manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. Attention to detail and precision are also essential skills for a machinist to have.

A career as a machinist also requires a good amount of technical know-how and analytical skill. You’ll need to read blueprints and will need to create pieces and parts to the specifications listed in those blueprints.

You might need to spend a lot of time on your feet when working as a machinist. For that reason, physical strength and endurance are usually required.

How to Become a Machinist

You might be able to train on the job or through an apprenticeship if you want to become a machinist. Another option is to complete a career certificate in machining technologies. Orange Technical College offers a machining technologies certificate program that is 15 months in duration. At the end of the program, you’ll be ready to take the SOLIDWORKS Associate certification exam.

During the career certificate program, you’re likely to take courses in blueprint reading, lathe, mill, drill press, and grinder operations, precision measuring and CNC machining tools. The program also includes training in SOLIDWORKS.

What to Expect From a Career as a Machinist

After you’ve earned your certificate and have found a job as a machinist, what can you expect from your career? As of 2019, the median annual salary of machinists was $44,420[1]. Your salary might be more or less depending on the type of industry you end up working in. Machinists in the transportation equipment industry tend to have higher salaries than those who work in the machinery manufacturing industry.

Demand for machinists is expected to stay pretty constant over the next 10 years. The occupation won’t grow very fast, in large part due to changes in technology and an increase in automation. By 2028, the number of available machinist positions is expected to increase by 3%[1].

If you’ve been interested in how equipment comes together and enjoy working with your hands, a career as a machinist might be in your future. The machining technologies career certificate is one of many Orange Technical College offers at its Mid Florida Campus in Orlando. To learn more about the program or about our career certificates in general, request more info today.

Sources:

  1. “Machinists and Tool and Diemakers”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/machinists-and-tool-and-die-makers.htm
  2. “Machining and the Machine Shop”, Craftsmanship Museum, https://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/Shoptools.htm

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