What Does a Machinist Do?
If you value precision and you like solving problems, here’s a job to consider. Machinists run computer numerical control (CNC) equipment to create machine parts, tools and one-of-a-kind items out of metal. Machinists, also called CNC machine operators, set up and operate the computer-driven precision machinery that cuts, grinds or drills the material. They also polish and perfect each item for quality assurance. They work in machine shops or factory tool rooms. They may also work in any manufacturing setting that requires the installation, maintenance, programming and operation of CNC technology. Tool and die makers construct metal forms, called dies, that are used to cut metal and other materials.
These technical skills are in high demand. As a result, these jobs almost always require overtime.
- Set up and operate precision equipment
- Maintain precision equipment
- Turn, mill, drill, shape and grind machine parts to specifications
- Plan stock inventory
- Inspect and test finished products
- Program mills and lathes
- Maintain production and quality logs
Most employers require a high school diploma. To learn the trade, machinists require specific training that is offered by community colleges or technical schools, including classes in math, blueprint reading, metalworking and drafting. Most machinists enter apprenticeship programs. Candidates must be able to work comfortably with complex machines and tools. Certification through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) is highly recommended.
- Like working with computers
- Are detail-oriented
- Have strong math skills
- Enjoy creating things
- Manage your time well
- Have excellent problem-solving skills
- Adapt easily
- Work well with others