What does a Machinist do?
A machinist operates computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, such as lathes and milling machines, to cut and produce precision parts for machines, instruments, and tools. Machinist repair or produce parts using both manual and automated equipment with precise measurements. Essentially, a machinists' goal is to ensure effective production operations and optimize procedures. A machinist typically works in manufacturing plants.
Most machinist have at least a high school diploma, however, a completed apprenticeship or vocational training is preferred. Successful machinists possess excellent mathematical and analytical skills and have great manual dexterity.
- Review samples, drawings or instructions to understand specifications of output
- Take measurements and mark material for cutting or shaping
- Plan the sequence of necessary actions for the completion of a job
- Select appropriate machines (e.g. lathes) and position or load material for a job
- Monitor machine while working to adjust the feed, maintain temperature and identify issues
- Determine and program size of batches and speed of machine
- Monitor output to ensure consistency with specifications and discard defects
- Perform routine machine maintenance and repair minor damages
- Vocational school or apprenticeship preferred
- Excellent manual dexterity, accuracy and attention to detail
- Great verbal and written communication skills
- Experience in using and/or programming manual, semi-automated or automated tools and machines (lathes, grinders etc.)
- Ability to use precision tools (e.g. calipers) to take accurate measurements
- Ability to read blueprints, schematics and manuals
- Knowledge of metal properties and other material
- Outstanding mathematical skills and analytical abilities
- Physical stamina and strength to lift heavy items
Average Base Pay
Machinist Career Path
Learn how to become a Machinist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
“Donson provided me with excellent training and still do this day I am learning great skills!”
“Continuous improvement meetings that normally create positive momentum toward better and faster ways to do your job.”
“It's miserable and the only reason so many people work here is because the pay is almost TOO good.”
“My opportunity to work for LA gauge was perfectly what I needed to further my career as a career machinist”
“There is never a shortage of hours so your guaranteed 40 hour weeks plus optional overtime.”
“I took a very low initial wage because I’m not afraid to work my way up.”
“A good place to start your career as a Journeyman in your selected field of endeavor.”
“Can't really say much on cons but the pay is a little out of date.”
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a Machinist
When working as a Machinist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are CNC Programming, Mechanical Drawing, Gages, CAD/CAM and Tolerance.
- Machine Operator
The most common qualifications to become a Machinist is a minimum of a Associate's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.