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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. 

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Our one-of-kind Opportunity Meter rates jobs based on salary, current openings and future demand to help you choose the career that is best for you.
Median Salary $
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Apprentices learn how to run a computer control panel in a machine shop
If you’re good at math and have an analytical mind, you might make a good machinist. (Credit: ALPA PROD/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  • 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
Education + Training

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

Machinist training in your area


Computer Integrated Machining, A.A.S.

Craven Community College
New Bern (0.0 Miles)

Mechanical Maintenance of Okuma B-Axis Certificate

York Technical College
Rock Hill (0.0 Miles)

Machinery Repair Assistant Certificate

Vincennes University
Vincennes (0.0 Miles)

Computer Aided Manufacturing/CNC Technology, A.A.S.

Sinclair Community College
Dayton (0.0 Miles)

Machining, Career and Technical Certificate

Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee (0.0 Miles)

Manufacturing Technician Certificate

Portland Community College
Portland (0.0 Miles)
Mesa Community College logo

Manufacturing Production Technology, A.A.S.

Mesa Community College
Mesa (0.0 Miles)

CNC Operator Skills Certificate

Fullerton College
Fullerton (0.0 Miles)

Advanced Manufacturing Skills Certificate

Schoolcraft College
Livonia (0.0 Miles)

Fabrication Manufacturing Certificate of Achievement

San Diego City College
San Diego (0.0 Miles)

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Advanced Certificate

Delta College
University Center (0.0 Miles)

Computer-Integrated Machining Diploma

Durham Technical Community College
Durham (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Tony Tinge
Meet Ambassador
Tony Tinge

When Tony graduated with honors from high school, he didn't have a lot of direction.

He was drawn to Lincoln Electric because he knew if he worked hard, it would pay off — literally. It took him six years to learn about tool and die, but once he started an apprenticeship, he knew he'd found not just a job, but a career. It's one of the lesser known skills-based careers, but there's a huge need for tool and die makers.

You can make an extremely good living as a tool and die maker, says Tony, as long as you're willing to work hard. Plus you get the satisfaction of helping create so many different things people use every day.

"Literally everything around you was probably produced by a tool that a tool and die maker made." 

Find Machinist Jobs in Your Area


Machine Operator I - 1st shift

Dynatect Manufacturing
New Berlin ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months ago

Fabrication Machine Operator 2nd shift Job

Agco Corp.
Hesston ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months 1 week ago

Mold/Die Shop Technician

Procter & Gamble
Boston ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months 3 weeks ago

CNC Swiss Screw Machine Programmer

Anika Therapeutics
Bedford ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 10 months 1 week ago

CNC Mill/lathe Operator

Columbus Hydraulics
Columbus ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 year 1 month ago

Laser Operator Job

Agco Corp.
Hesston ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 year 11 months ago

CNC Machine Operator - (In Training)

AO Precision Manufacturing
Daytona Beach ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 7 months 1 week ago

CNC Machinist- Englewood, CO (United Rotorcraft)

Air Methods
Englewood ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 6 months 2 weeks ago