Students interested in becoming machinists or programming computer-numeric-controlled machines may wish to enroll in machinist schools to learn machinist skills. Machinist schools train students to work with a wide range of industrial metal-cutting tools, such as plasma or water-jet cutters, as well as smaller hand tools -- files, hammers, calipers, micrometers and precision measuring and testing equipment.
Talented machinists should understand how to read blueprints and operate complicated machinery, as well as possess knowledge of the base properties of different metals. Machinist training can help provide the skills needed to make a range of hardware, from the titanium screws doctors use in orthopedic implants to the rivets that join airplane wings.
Machinists use lathes and milling machines to create metal parts with an incredibly high degree of precision. Production machinists usually produce large amounts of parts using CNC machines that follow computer programs to control the cutting path, speed and feed rate of a particular part. Machinist schools often offer certificate programs for various specializations.
Specialization in the field includes:
- Toolmaker: creates precision tools that cut, shape and form metals
- Die maker: creates metal forms used to shape and stamp metal parts. Die makers also create metal molds used to form plastics, ceramics and other materials
- Millwright: installs and dismantles heavy machinery found in factories and power plants
Machinist schools strive to train students to work as mechanical engineering technicians who help design, develop, test, and manufacture industrial machinery and other equipment by assisting with product testing, creating sketches or analyzing data and estimating costs.
Machinist certification and degrees
Machinist jobs require at least a high school diploma, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) reports. Advanced mechanical engineering positions, such as jobs in the aerospace and airline manufacturing industry, traditionally require a bachelor's degree, the BLS says. However, many positions, such as engineering technician, often require a two-year associate degree in engineering technology.
Students with machinist training from machinist schools, learn how to read blueprints, principles of drafting, and the computer skills needed to operate CNC equipment.
Machinist salary and career outlook
The field is expected to grow 7 percent -- adding 33,700 jobs -- from 2012 through 2022, the BLS reports. The BLS also reported national median annual salaries for machinists of $39,570 in May 2013, while the highest-paid 10 percent earned at least $60,070 and the lowest-paid 10 percent earned up to $24,280. Texas, California, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois employ the greatest number of machinists.
Workers with computer skills and formal machinist training may have the best job prospects, according to the BLS. The ability to run a variety of CNC and milling equipment is also crucial to career advancement.
Machinists, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes514041.htm
Machinists and Tool and Die Makers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/production/machinists-and-tool-and-die-makers.htm