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Career Profile: Machinists

Set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments out of metal. Includes precision instrument makers who fabricate, modify, or repair mechanical instruments. May also fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or maintain industrial machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, mathematics, metal properties, layout, and machining procedures.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 363,000 people employed as machinists in the United States. The median annual salary is $45,800. Entry level employees earn approximately $29,240 per year and senior employees earn approximately $69,050 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Operate equipment to verify operational efficiency.
  • Evaluate machining procedures and recommend changes or modifications for improved efficiency or adaptability.
  • Diagnose machine tool malfunctions to determine need for adjustments or repairs.
  • Design fixtures, tooling, or experimental parts to meet special engineering needs.
  • Dispose of scrap or waste material in accordance with company policies and environmental regulations.
  • Confer with engineering, supervisory, or manufacturing personnel to exchange technical information.
  • Lay out, measure, and mark metal stock to display placement of cuts.
  • Separate scrap waste and related materials for reuse, recycling, or disposal.
  • Check work pieces to ensure that they are properly lubricated or cooled.
  • Support metalworking projects from planning and fabrication through assembly, inspection, and testing, using knowledge of machine functions, metal properties, and mathematics.
  • Install repaired parts into equipment or install new equipment.
  • Dismantle machines or equipment, using hand tools or power tools to examine parts for defects and replace defective parts where needed.
  • Test experimental models under simulated operating conditions, for purposes such as development, standardization, or feasibility of design.
  • Set up or operate metalworking, brazing, heat-treating, welding, or cutting equipment.
  • Prepare working sketches for the illustration of product appearance.
  • Calculate dimensions or tolerances, using instruments, such as micrometers or vernier calipers.
  • Establish work procedures for fabricating new structural products, using a variety of metalworking machines.
  • Install experimental parts or assemblies, such as hydraulic systems, electrical wiring, lubricants, or batteries into machines or mechanisms.
  • Advise clients about the materials being used for finished products.
  • Machine parts to specifications, using machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, shapers, or grinders.
  • Measure, examine, or test completed units to check for defects and ensure conformance to specifications, using precision instruments, such as micrometers.
  • Set up, adjust, or operate basic or specialized machine tools used to perform precision machining operations.
  • Program computers or electronic instruments, such as numerically controlled machine tools.
  • Study sample parts, blueprints, drawings, or engineering information to determine methods or sequences of operations needed to fabricate products.
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines during the machining process.
  • Maintain machine tools in proper operational condition.
  • Fit and assemble parts to make or repair machine tools.
  • Align and secure holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, or materials onto machines.
  • Confer with numerical control programmers to check and ensure that new programs or machinery will function properly and that output will meet specifications.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
363,000
Annual Openings:
41,200
Increase in Openings by 2030:
8%
Annual Salary Range:
$29,240 - $69,050
Education Requirements:
High school diploma