General machinist trainees learn to use machine tools to make precisely shaped and sized components for contractors, aeronautics or car manufacturers. Machinist programs teach students to use precision equipment to make metal and plastic parts for many types of products, including aircraft. The certificate programs include a significant amount of hands-on training. Associate programs typically include general education courses along with classes in blueprint reading, machining equipment and tool operation.
Program fields in aircraft machining include machine tool technology, mechanical design and fabrication and computer numerical control machining technology. Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED.
Certificate Programs in Machinist Training
Students learn to make precise measurements, follow blueprints and operate a variety of machine tools in order to create parts for medical equipment, appliances and aircraft. These 1- to 3-semester programs are offered under various names, such as machining, machinist, machine tool technology and computer numerical control technology. They involve a significant amount of hands-on practical experience. Students work with sheet metal, tools (like milling machines, drill presses and lathes) and process control to ensure that finished products are of a consistent quality. Other training that helps students create parts to specifications set out in engineering drawings includes:
- Metal fabrication
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Associate's Degree Programs in Machining
These 2-year programs are extremely hands-on. Course topics like technical writing, computer fundamentals and quality control prepare graduates for careers in aircraft machining. Welding, CNC programming and technical communication are all covered in these programs. The following topics are also commonly taught in machinist programs:
- Applied math
- Blueprint reading
- Operation of tools
- Resource management
- Workplace first aid
Machining professionals find work in the manufacturing industry, at companies ranging from small shops to large organizations, like Boeing. Graduates of associate's degree-level training programs are qualified to work as:
- Machine tool operators
- Tool and die makers
- Quality control specialist
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast a 6% employment increase from 2014-2024 for machinists (www.bls.gov). This is about average growth for all occupations. A high number of machinists are expected to retire or transfer their expertise to another post within the manufacturing industry. In 2015, BLS reported machinists earned a median annual salary of $40,550.
Interested students are able to enroll in Bachelor of Science programs in topics like manufacturing engineering technology or aerospace engineering. Programs take four years to complete and require applicants to have graduated high school.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills certifies standards in metalworking through a series of credentialing tests. Applicants must pass both a practical portion and a theory examination in order to receive their credentials.
Aspiring aircraft machinists can learn the skills they need by enrolling in a general machinist training program at the certificate or associate's degree level. These programs prepare graduates for work not only as machinists but also tool and die makers, machine tool operators and quality control specialists.