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Certain type of machinists are in high demand. Learn what machines need skilled operators and how to secure one of these highly sought-after jobs.

Where did all the machinists go?

By Holly Johnson
RWM Columnist
Apr 18, 2013

As the American economy continues its recovery, the manufacturing sector has been creating many new jobs. Unfortunately, manufacturers are having great difficulty filling these positions with skilled workers. It is as if all of the skilled machinists have vanished, and industry is hoping that this will change in the near future. Fortunately, the lack of skilled machinists creates an excellent opportunity for those looking to further their manufacturing careers.

Machinists are a vital part of any working factory. In fact, you might even call machining the basic element needed for manufacturing. However, according to Rob Akers, vice president of the National Tooling and Machining Association, factories looking to hire new machinists are facing a critical shortage of these skilled workers. This is particularly true of those machinists trained to operate CNC machines.

What Are CNC Machines?

CNC, or computer numerically controlled machines, have essentially replaced many of the old tasks that machinists have traditionally done by hand. Essentially, a CNC machine takes a three-dimensional design and converts it into a brand new product. Although you may not realize it, almost every product that is on the market has at one point been the offspring of a machining process.

While some machinists still operate traditional machinery, many manufacturers are moving toward an increasing number of computerized processes. In the past, machinists were required to know little more than how to operate their particular piece of machinery. Now, machinists wanting to operate a CNC machine must be familiar with computer code. This requires specialized training, typically found at a vocational school. While the CNC machine handles much of the actual manufacturing of the product, the machinist must ensure that the computer program is correctly entered and producing the desired results. The CNC machinist is also responsible for performing machine maintenance.

Machinist Education

Unfortunately for factories, enrollment in machinist education has been low for an extended period of time. Fortunately for you, the drop in enrollment has driven the demand for skilled workers through the roof, along with their salaries. Individuals willing to learn new skills and further their education may reap certain financial benefits for doing so -- a CNC machinist may end up earning nearly double the minimum wage, without having to earn a four-year degree.

In order to become a CNC machinist, you typically have to complete a CNC machinist education course at a vocational school. This will typically last about 18 weeks. Upon completion, you will be required to obtain some on-the-job training. From there, you will be required to pass a certification examination in order to earn your status as a journeyman machinist.

Becoming a trained CNC machinist is an excellent opportunity for those who are looking to earn a solid wage. A machinist education may help you achieve the position and salary that meet your needs and capabilities. You have the power to unlock your potential by earning the skills to become a CNC machinist.


CNN Money, "Desperately seeking Americans for factory jobs," Parija Kavilanz, July 23, 2012,,

WiseGEEK, "How Do I Become a CNC Machinist?"2013,,

Forbes, "The One Skill That Will Land You A Job In Any Factory, Anywhere," Micheline Maynard, March 14, 2012,