Is a Machinist a Good Career Choice: Exploring Opportunities in the Field

Are you someone who enjoys working with your hands and tinkering with machinery? Have you ever considered a career as a machinist? Many people are unaware of the opportunities and benefits that come with pursuing this path. So, is a machinist a good career? The answer is a resounding yes!

A machinist is a skilled trade professional who works with different types of machinery to create different parts and components. They use various tools and techniques to fabricate precision metal parts based on engineering specifications. This job requires a great deal of skill and attention to detail, as even the slightest error can cause a significant issue in the finished product. However, for those who possess this ability, there is a great demand for their services.

One of the best things about a career as a machinist is the opportunity for growth and advancement. Many machinists start their career working in factories, machine shops, or production plants. As they gain experience and enhance their skills, they can move up to positions such as quality control inspectors, supervisors, or even engineers. Additionally, because the demand for machinists is high, the job outlook is excellent, and salaries are competitive. So, if you want a job that offers stability, opportunity for growth, and a chance to use your hands and mind, then a career as a machinist might be the right fit for you.

Machinist job outlook and employment opportunities

Machinists are skilled professionals who operate a variety of precision tools and machines to create metal parts and instruments. This diverse field offers a wide range of specialized specialties, including CNC machining, tool and die making, and robotics programming. Given the rapid advancements in technology, a career as a machinist can be both versatile and rewarding.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of machinists is projected to grow by 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for machinists is largely driven by the need for replacement parts for existing machinery and the production of new products in various industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and medical equipment manufacturing.

Job opportunities

  • Manufacturing industries
  • Metalworking shops
  • Automotive repair and maintenance
  • Construction and mining companies

Training and education

Aspiring machinists should enroll in vocational or technical schools that offer programs in machine tool technology, blueprint reading, and mathematics. Additionally, completing an apprenticeship or on-the-job training is critical to gain hands-on experience and master the skills required for this profession. A machinist’s job typically requires exceptional problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software.

Salary and benefits

Job TitleMedian Salary (2019)
CNC Programmer$54,130
Tool and Die Maker$54,660
Robotics Technician$54,980

Most machinists work full time, and some may work irregular hours or be on call for emergency repairs. The job also typically comes with benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and access to continuing education and training for professional development.

The Skills Required to Become a Successful Machinist

Being a machinist is more than just operating machines. Not everyone is cut out for this career, as it requires a unique set of skills. Below are the skills that will make you a successful machinist:

  • Math skills: Machinists must have a strong foundation in math, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. They use these skills to understand blueprints, make precise measurements, and perform calculations.
  • Attention to detail: Precision is critical in machining. Machinists must pay close attention to every detail in order to produce high-quality parts that meet every specification.
  • Mechanical aptitude: Understanding how machines work is essential for machinists. They must be able to identify problems and determine the best way to fix them.

Beyond these fundamental skills, there are other competencies that make a machinist stand out:

Communication skills: Machinists must be able to communicate effectively with other workers, including engineers, supervisors, and quality control personnel. They must also keep detailed records of their work and be able to explain their processes and results.

Critical thinking: A machinist must be able to solve problems quickly, making decisions on the spot when required.

Computer skills: With advances in technology, many machines in manufacturing facilities are now controlled by computers. Machinists must know how to use specialized software to operate and program these machines.

Math skillsMachinists must have a strong foundation in math, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
Attention to detailPrecision is critical in machining. Machinists must pay close attention to every detail in order to produce high-quality parts that meet every specification.
Mechanical aptitudeUnderstanding how machines work is essential for machinists. They must be able to identify problems and determine the best way to fix them.

By possessing the above skills, anyone can become a successful machinist. With hard work, dedication, and the willingness to constantly learn and improve, you can build a rewarding career in this field.

Qualifications and Education for Machinists

For those interested in a career as a machinist, there are a few qualifications and education requirements to consider. Machinists are skilled trade professionals who manufacture and produce mechanical tools, parts, and equipment. They often use CNC machines, lathes, and other tools to shape and cut metal and other materials to specific measurements and tolerances. Here are some of the key qualifications and education requirements for becoming a machinist:

  • High school diploma or equivalent: Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for entry-level machinist positions.
  • Technical training or apprenticeship: Machinists typically receive technical training or apprenticeship from a vocational or technical school or from on-the-job training. This training can take anywhere from a few months to several years and covers topics such as machine tool technology, blueprint reading, and CNC machine programming.
  • Math and technical skills: Machinists must be proficient in math and have strong technical skills to operate and program CNC machines and other equipment. They must also have a keen eye for detail and be able to read and interpret complex mechanical drawings and blueprints.

Many machinists also pursue additional certifications or degrees to advance their careers. Some of these include:

  • NIMS certification: The National Institute for Metalworking Skills offers certification programs for machinists and other manufacturing professionals. These programs help demonstrate a machinist’s proficiency in various skills and specialties.
  • Associate’s degree: Some machinists pursue an associate’s degree in machine tool technology or manufacturing technology to gain more comprehensive training and broaden their career options.
  • Bachelor’s degree: Machinists who have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering or engineering technology may be able to advance to supervisory or management roles.

The Role of Continuing Education for Machinists

Continuing education is critical for machinists, as technology and techniques continue to advance in the field. Machinists must stay up-to-date on new tools, materials, and software that can improve their output and efficiency. Many machinists pursue continuing education options such as:

  • Industry and trade conferences: Attending conferences and seminars can help machinists stay informed on the latest developments and trends in the industry.
  • Software and tool training: Machinists can benefit from training on new machine programming software or new tools and equipment that can improve their output.
  • Certifications and licensing: Continuously earning certifications and licensing in various skills and specialties demonstrates a machinist’s willingness to learn and adapt to new technologies and processes.

A career as a machinist requires dedication to learning and honing technical skills. Pursuing education and training opportunities can help machinists improve their craft, stay up-to-date on industry advancements, and advance their careers.

Certification/LicenseIssuing OrganizationDescription
NIMS certificationNational Institute for Metalworking SkillsIndustry-recognized certification demonstrating proficiency in various machining skills and specialties.
Journeyman MachinistState labor department or trade organizationsCertification obtained through apprenticeship or on-the-job training demonstrating proficiency in various machinist skills and techniques.
Professional EngineerNational Society of Professional EngineersLicensing obtained through a bachelor’s degree and passing an exam demonstrating an engineer’s ability to design and oversee mechanical systems and processes.

Overall, qualifications and education for machinists can vary depending on an individual’s career goals and experience. Pursuing technical training and continuing education opportunities can help machinists improve their craft and advance their careers in this exciting and constantly evolving industry.

Salaries and Benefits for Machinists in Different Industries and Locations

When considering a career as a machinist, it’s important to take into account the potential salaries and benefits that come with the job. While the median annual salary for a machinist in the United States is $44,420, there are many factors that can impact earnings, including the industry and location. Here’s a closer look at some of the salaries and benefits you can expect as a machinist in different industries and locations.


  • Aerospace and defense: Machinists in this industry tend to make some of the highest salaries, with a median annual income of $53,540. This is due in part to the high level of precision and expertise required to produce specialized parts for aircraft and other defense equipment.
  • Manufacturing: Machinists who work in manufacturing can still earn a solid salary, with a median annual income of $43,370. This industry is one of the largest employers of machinists, as it covers everything from making car parts to precision surgical instruments.
  • Oil and gas: Machinists who work in this industry often earn higher salaries than those in other manufacturing fields, with a median annual income of $49,720. This is because the specialized parts and equipment needed for drilling and pipeline operations require a high level of precision.


The location in which a machinist works can also have a significant impact on earnings. Here are a few examples:

  • California: Machinists in California tend to earn some of the highest salaries in the country, with a median annual income of $52,950. This is largely due to the state’s high cost of living and its concentration of aerospace and defense manufacturers.
  • Texas: Machinists who work in Texas can expect a median annual salary of $41,640. The state is home to a significant oil and gas industry, making it a prime location for machinists with experience in this area.
  • Michigan: This state is home to a large number of manufacturing companies, which has helped boost the median annual salary for machinists to $45,340.

Machinist Employment Benefits

Aside from salary, machinists can also take advantage of a variety of employment benefits, which can include health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 74% of machinists have access to employer-provided health insurance, and roughly 77% have access to a retirement plan. Additionally, many machinists can look forward to paid vacation and sick days, as well as the potential for bonuses and overtime pay.

IndustryMedian Annual SalaryPercentage with Health InsurancePercentage with Retirement Plan
Aerospace and defense$53,54082%83%
Oil and gas$49,72078%80%

Overall, becoming a machinist can be a lucrative career choice, particularly for those with specialized skills or experience in specific industries. By carefully considering factors like industry and location, machinists can find opportunities that offer competitive salaries and benefits that meet their needs.

Advancements and Career Progression for Machinists

For those entering the field of machining, it is important to understand the potential for career growth and advancement. Machinists are in high demand across various industries, and with the right skills and experience, there are many opportunities for upward mobility. Here are five key areas to consider when it comes to advancements and career progression for machinists:

  • Specialization: With experience, machinists can specialize in a particular area of machining. This can lead to higher pay and more opportunities for advanced positions.
  • Supervisory Roles: Experienced machinists can move into supervisory roles, leading teams of machinists and managing production schedules.
  • Quality Control: Experienced machinists can transition into quality control positions, ensuring that products are manufactured to meet strict quality standards.
  • Engineering: Machinists with advanced skills and experience can move into engineering positions, working on designing and developing complex machinery and parts.
  • Business Ownership: After gaining experience and building a strong reputation in the industry, some machinists go on to start their own businesses, creating job opportunities for others.

Skills and Training for Career Advancement

In order to advance in the field of machining, it is important to continue learning and honing skills. Machinists looking to progress in their careers should consider pursuing additional education and training programs. Here are some key areas to focus on:

  • CNC Programming: Learning CNC programming can open up many opportunities for career advancement in the machining field.
  • Advanced Machining Techniques: Continuously learning and adopting new machining techniques can make a machinist a valuable asset to any company.
  • Marketing and Sales: For those looking to start their own businesses, learning marketing and sales skills is important for attracting clients and growing their customer base.

Salary and Benefits for Advanced Positions

Machinists in advanced positions can expect to receive higher pay and more comprehensive benefits packages. In addition to salary and benefits, employers may also offer bonuses and profit sharing programs for those in supervisory or management positions.

Opportunities for Growth in the Machining Industry

IndustryGrowth Potential
AerospaceExpected to grow 6% from 2019-2029
Medical Device ManufacturingExpected to grow 7% from 2019-2029
Automotive ManufacturingExpected to remain stable

While the automotive manufacturing industry is expected to remain stable in the coming years, the aerospace and medical device manufacturing industries are anticipated to grow, providing many opportunities for machinists to advance their careers.

In conclusion, a career in machining has a lot of potential for growth and advancement. With continued education and training, machinists can move up the career ladder and enjoy higher salaries and comprehensive benefits packages. Additionally, with the anticipated growth in industries such as aerospace and medical device manufacturing, there will be many opportunities for machinists to advance their careers in the coming years.

The role of technology in modern machinist jobs

In the past, machinists relied mostly on manual tools and machines to perform their jobs. However, the rise of technology has revolutionized the industry, and modern machinists now work with advanced tools and machines that have greatly improved their efficiency and productivity. Here are some of the ways that technology has impacted modern machinist jobs:

  • CAD/CAM Software: Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software has become a staple in modern machinist jobs. It allows machinists to design and program parts quicker and more accurately than ever before, reducing the likelihood of errors and saving time.
  • CNC Machines: Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines have completely transformed the manufacturing process. These machines are capable of automatically performing multiple operations with speed and precision, freeing up machinists to focus on other tasks.
  • Laser Cutters: Laser cutting technology has given machinists the ability to cut through a variety of different materials with incredibly precise cuts at high speeds. This technology has streamlined the manufacturing process, reduced waste, and helped machinists tackle a broader range of projects.

With all of these advancements in technology, machinists must be proficient in both traditional tools and modern machines. The industry is evolving, and modern machinists must possess a wide range of skills to succeed. They must also be well-versed in computer programming and have an exceptional understanding of computer science.

Additionally, technology has made it easier for machinists to collaborate with other members of a manufacturing team. With the help of cloud-based software, team members can share designs and work together on projects anytime and anywhere.

Advantages of technology in modern machinist jobsDisadvantages of technology in modern machinist jobs
– Increased efficiency and productivity
– Greater accuracy and precision
– Ability to work on a broader range of projects
– Streamlined manufacturing processes
– Greater reliance on technology, causing machinists to become deskilled over time
– High initial costs of purchasing and maintaining modern machines and software

Overall, the role of technology in modern machinist jobs cannot be underestimated. While there may be some challenges to overcome, the benefits are clear. With industry experts predicting continued advancements in the field of 3D printing and other types of manufacturing technology, the future certainly looks bright for machinists who can keep up with the fast-paced technological evolution.

The Future of Machinist Careers in a Changing World

As the world changes, the role of a machinist is also changing. With the rise of automation and advancements in technology, some may wonder if machinist careers are still worth pursuing. However, the reality is that the demand for skilled machinists is still strong, and the industry is evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace.

  • 1. Advancements in Technology – While some may see technology as a threat to machinist careers, it also presents opportunities for growth and innovation. Machinists who are adaptable and willing to learn new technologies will find themselves in high demand.
  • 2. Aging Workforce – As the current generation of machinists retire, there will be a need for new workers to fill these positions. This presents an opportunity for a new generation of skilled workers to enter the industry and make it their own.
  • 3. Reshoring – Some companies are beginning to bring manufacturing back to the United States, which means more opportunities for machinists. This trend is creating a need for skilled workers who can operate and maintain advanced machinery to increase production and reduce costs.

In addition to these trends, the rise of 3D printing and other additive manufacturing technologies is also creating new opportunities for machinists. As these technologies become more mainstream, machinists who are proficient in them will be highly sought after.

As Table 1 demonstrates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of machinists will grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is consistent with the overall projected growth of employment across all occupations in the same period.

OccupationMedian Annual Wage, 2019Projected Employment Change, 2019-29Percent Employment Change, 2019-29
All occupations$39,8106,000,0004%

In conclusion, while the world continues to change and evolve, the need for skilled machinists will always remain. With advancements in technology, an aging workforce, and a changing manufacturing landscape, the opportunities for machinists are vast and varied. The future is bright for those who are willing to embrace change and adapt to new technologies and practices in the industry.

Is a machinist a good career?

1. What does a machinist do?

A machinist is a skilled tradesperson who uses machinery to create parts and components used in manufacturing. They may use lathes, grinders, drill presses, and other tools to shape metal and other materials.

2. How much does a machinist make?

The average salary for a machinist in the United States is around $45,000 per year. However, experienced machinists with specialized skills can earn significantly more.

3. What education is required to become a machinist?

Most machinists complete a vocational or technical training program that teaches them the basics of machining and how to operate different types of machinery. Some employers may also require an apprenticeship or on-the-job training.

4. What are the job prospects for machinists?

The job outlook for machinists is positive, with an expected growth rate of 3% between 2018 and 2028. As manufacturing continues to evolve and become more advanced, skilled machinists will be in demand.

5. Are there any hazards associated with being a machinist?

Yes, machinists work with heavy machinery and tools that can be dangerous if not handled properly. They must follow strict safety protocols and wear protective equipment to minimize the risk of injury.

6. What are the opportunities for advancement in this career?

Experienced machinists may have the opportunity to become supervisors or managers in their field. They may also specialize in a particular type of machining, such as CNC programming or tool design.

7. Is a machinist a good career for someone who enjoys working with their hands?

Absolutely. Machinists use their hands to create precise parts and components that are used in a variety of industries. If you enjoy working with your hands and have an eye for detail, a career as a machinist may be a perfect fit for you.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the machinist profession. As you can see, it’s a rewarding career with excellent job prospects and opportunities for advancement. If you’re interested in pursuing this career, we encourage you to get started by researching vocational or technical programs in your area. Thanks again for reading, and we hope to see you back here soon!