It seems like a strange question, but are you aware of what goes into the manufacturing process to make all the things we use from day to day? Many of us picture giant automated machines stamping out finished products, but a lot of times machinists play a key role in creating tools, dies or even a company’s final product.
Got you curious?
Machinist positions include:
Frequently, a machinist will develop an expertise on a mill, lathe or both, or on specific software or controls (such as Fanuc or Mazak controls). While these position types can vary, the functions that machinists perform is wide ranging as well from manufacturing tiny medical devices to mass-producing a single automobile part to maintenance machining replacement parts that have worn excessively.
There are several possible paths to become a machinist.
High School Diploma or GED: Often times, it depends on the position and the amount of training that an employer is willing to provide. For some entry-level positions a high school diploma may be all that is necessary.
Trade School: For other positions, you may need to invest your time in a preparatory course, usually available from local colleges or technical/vocational institutes ([opportunity to link to other ITP content. Within these programs, you’ll not only learn how to use the machines used in manufacturing, but also the essential software involved in the manufacturing process. Understanding of programs like Mastercam, Solidworks, and other CAD/CNC (Computer-Assisted Design/Computer Numerical Control) programs are often a key skill set required to advance in your machining career.
Apprenticeship: After being hired, machinists are often encouraged to complete a training or apprenticeship program, lasting 2 – 4 years (depending on the career track). This is important, as different certifications and skills can only be acquired with on-the-job training.
Certification: After the apprenticeship, qualified workers can be granted a NIMS (National Institute of Metalworking Skills) certification, after a series of tests of the worker’s aptitude. This certification can help advance your career to positions like CNC Setup Programmer, Certified Journeyworker, or NIMS Certified Machinist.
Other Paths: Some machinists transition to even more specialized fields, like tool and die makers. For those with business savvy, you can go into business for yourself or work your way up into managerial positions in established companies.
The path is really up to the ambitions of the individual.
A lot of interest in the machining field has to do with its attractive pay. Because machinists are always in high-demand, if you are good at your job, then job security can be nearly guaranteed. According to government statistics, median pay is $44,110 per year; the average hourly wage being nearly $21.21/hr. Entry-level to somewhat experienced machinists can expect to make $14/hr to $20/hr, depending on geography and previous experience. For a machinist with a programming specialty, the rate rises to $20/hr to $35/hr.
If you see your career path clearly, you’ll see that you are only as valuable as you are irreplaceable. To enhance this quality, it helps to learn diverse skills that can be applied to multiple industries. Recently, we’ve watched certain industries like oil, gas, and mining get hurt by external forces that are beyond our control. The more varied your skill set within machining, the more easily you can migrate from a declining industry into a thriving one. The fact of the matter is that most employers understand that the employees they hire may not have exact experience in their type of machining. What employers are really looking for is someone that has an adaptable skill set and a willingness to bridge the gap of their current talents to meet the demands of the job.
Xemplar provides career resources as well as recruiting services to top trades professionals and the companies that employ them in manufacturing, transportation, energy, automation/robotics, industrial services and many other industries. We enable machinists, mechanics, welders, fabricators, electricians, installers, quality control techs, service techs and other related tradespeople to find great opportunities and achieve their greatest potential in their fields. Learn more about Xemplar here.