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Machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments.

Machinist Jobs and Green Career Profile

Machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments. They also fabricate, modify, or repair mechanical instruments. Machinists’ job requires them to apply knowledge of mechanics, mathematics, metal properties, layout, and machining procedures to fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or industrial machines.

Understanding Machinists Jobs & Career Overview

Understanding Machinists JobsMachinists’ main functionality is to produce parts to specifications, using machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, shapers, or grinders. In order to produce precision parts, machinists need to calculate dimensions or tolerances, using instruments such as micrometers or vernier calipers. They also set up, adjust, or operate basic or specialized machine tools used to perform precision machining operations. When a part is completed, those with machinist jobs need to measure, examine, or test completed units to check for defects and ensure conformance to specifications, using precision instruments, such as micrometers.

During the machining process, machinists are responsible for aligning and securing holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, or materials onto machines. They monitor the feed and speed of machines during the machining process. Those holding machinist jobs maintain machine tools to make sure that they are in proper operational condition. They operate equipment to verify operational efficiency. They also check work pieces to ensure that they are properly lubricated or cooled. Machinists also diagnose machine tool malfunctions to determine need for adjustments or repairs. Machinists regularly evaluate machining procedures and recommend changes or modifications for improved efficiency or adaptability.

The ability to precisely follow blueprints or other written specifications is an essential skill with machinist jobs. Machinists often need to study sample parts, blueprints, drawings, or engineering information to determine methods or sequences of operations needed to fabricate products. The ability to work with both hardware and software is also important as it allows machinists to be more productive. Machinists regularly need to program computers or electronic instruments, such as numerically controlled machine tools. They confer with numerical control programmers to check and ensure that new programs or machinery will function properly and that output will meet specifications. They also confer with engineering, supervisory, or manufacturing personnel to exchange technical information.

As part of their jobs, machinists need to measure, lay out, and mark metal stock to display placement of cuts. They also fit and assemble parts to make or repair machine tools. They set up or operate metalworking, brazing, heat-treating, welding, or cutting equipment. Machinists install repaired parts into equipment or install new equipment. They dismantle machines or equipment, using hand tools or power tools to examine parts for defects and replace defective parts where needed. When the work is done, machinists need to dispose of scrap or waste material in accordance with company policies and environmental regulations. They also separate scrap waste and related materials for reuse, recycling, or disposal.

Machinists design fixtures, tooling, or experimental parts to meet special engineering needs. They support metalworking projects from planning and fabrication through assembly, inspection, and testing, using knowledge of machine functions, metal properties and mathematics. They establish work procedures for fabricating new structural products, using a variety of metalworking machines. Machinists prepare working sketches for the illustration of product appearance. They advise clients about the materials being used for finished products. Machinists test experimental models under simulated operating conditions for purposes such as development, standardization, or feasibility of design. They also install experimental parts or assemblies, such as hydraulic systems, electrical wiring, lubricants, or batteries into machines or mechanisms.

To perform their job, machinists use a variety of technologies. They use analytical or scientific software such as Armchair Machinist software; CNC Consulting Machinists’ Calculator; EditCNC software; and Kentech Trig Kalculator. Machinists use computer-aided design CAD software such as Autodesk AutoCAD software to design precision parts. They also use computer aided manufacturing CAM software such as CNC Mastercam; CNC TurboCAD/CAM; and JETCAM software.

Machinists Green Job Summary

  • Machinists set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.
  • Machinists’ job outlook is projected to growth about 7% from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average average for all green jobs. Workers with computer skills who can perform multiple tasks in a machine shop will have the best job opportunities.
  • Machinists’ jobs are expected to have 33,700 new jobs filled by 2022.

Work Environment for Machinists

The vast majority of machinists worked in manufacturing. Machinists usually work in machine shops, tool rooms, and factories. Most machinists work full time during regular business hours. However, overtime is somewhat common. Because many manufacturers run machinery for long hours, evening and weekend work is also common. Although the work of machinists is not inherently dangerous, working around machine tools presents hazards, and workers must follow precautions. Machinists must wear protective equipment, such as safety glasses, to shield against bits of flying metal, and earplugs to dampen the noise produced by machinery.

Machinists Education, Training and Licensing

Machinists train in apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community or technical colleges, or on the job. To become a fully trained machinist, it takes several years of technical instruction, as well as on-the-job training. Math, problem-solving, and computer skills are important for machinists. Machinists must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In high school, students should take math courses, especially trigonometry and geometry. They also should take courses in blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting, if available. Some advanced positions, such as those in the aircraft manufacturing industry, require the use of advanced applied calculus and physics. The increasing use of computer-controlled machinery requires machinists to have basic computer skills before entering a training program. Some community colleges and technical schools have 2-year programs that train students to become machinists. These programs usually teach design and blueprint reading, how to use a variety of welding and cutting tools, and the programming and function of computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

Apprenticeship programs, typically sponsored by a manufacturer, are a great way to become a machinist Apprentices usually must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and most have taken algebra and trigonometry classes. There are 11 recognized apprenticeable specialties associated with this job: Fixture Maker; Instrument Maker; Instrument-Maker and Repairer; Machinist, Automotive; Machinist, Experimental; Machinist; Machinist; Machinist, Outside (Ship-Boat Manufacturing); Maintenance Machinist; Rocket-Motor Mechanic; Test Technician. Apprenticeship programs usually consist of paid shop training and related technical instruction lasting several years. Apprenticeship classes often are taught in cooperation with local community colleges and vocational–technical schools.

A large number of machinists receive their technical training from community and technical colleges. Machinists learn while employed by a manufacturer that supports the employee’s training goals and provides the needed on-the-job training. Apprentices usually work 40 hours per week and receive technical instruction during evenings. Trainees often begin as machine operators and gradually take on more difficult assignments. Machinists must have good computer skills to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines. A number of training facilities, state apprenticeship boards, and colleges offer certification programs such as the Right Skills Now. Machinists who complete a recognized certification program will have better job opportunities.

Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Machinist Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a bright outlook for Machinists and expects the employment in this field to grow about 7% from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all green jobs. The BLS projected 33,700 Machinists new openings between 2012 and 2022, and noted 476,200 jobs are currently filled. Titles include Gear Machinist, Journeyman Machinist, Machine Operator, Machine Repair Person, Machinist, Maintenance Machinist, Maintenance Specialist, Production Machinist, Set-Up Machinist, and Tool Room Machinist. The BLS further reports that the median annual wage for salaried Machinists was $40,910 in 2012 with median hourly wage of $19.67. Across the US job market, he lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,340, and the top 10 percent earned more than $59,790. Machinists can receive the best compensation in District of Columbia, where they earn compensation, on average, of about $55270. People in this job function are compensated at the highest average salary in Public Administration, where they get average pay levels of $62060.

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