Engine Machinist: Job Description & Career Requirements

Mar 15, 2019

Learn what education and training are required for a career as an engine machinist. Find out about salary and employment potential, as well as some alternative career options.

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Career Definition of an Engine Machinist

Engine machinists apply technical knowledge and understanding to the tasks of building and repairing commercial and automotive engines. Engine machinists may work with gasoline, electric, or diesel engines. Cutting and shaping metal to create or repair engine parts is a typical duty associated with this career.

Education Associate's degree, apprenticeship, certification
Job Skills Mechanical aptitude, math, drafting, hand-eye coordination
Median Salary (2017)* $42,600 per year (all machinists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 2% (all machinists)

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

An associate degree is the usual educational path to begin a career as an engine machinist. These machinists may also enter the field through an apprenticeship program, certification, or community college coursework. Secondary school coursework should include emphasis on such subjects as drafting, metalwork, technology, mathematics, and blueprint reading.

Skills Required

Mechanical and mathematical skills are key ingredients in a career as an engine machinist. Good eyesight and hand-eye coordination are also important. Engine machinists usually work as part of a team, which requires effective communication skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Career opportunities for machinists are expected to grow by 2% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported that the median annual salary for machinists, including engine machinists, was $42,600, or $20.48 an hour, in May 2017.

Alternative Career Options

Other jobs similar to an Engine Machinist that might appeal to you include:


While engine machinists create parts for engines out of metal, tool makers use computer-aided design (CAD) programs and computer-numeric control (CNC) programmer machines to create tools for cutting and shaping materials, such as metal. These workers need basic computer skills to be able to operate the CAD programs and CNC machines. These skills can be learned through 2-year degree programs offered by community colleges. Toolmakers can complete apprenticeships to learn their craft. It takes many years of experience to become a master toolmaker. In May 2017, the BLS reported that tool and die makers had a median hourly wage of $25.23. Although these workers earn more per hour than machinists, this BLS expects this career field to shrink by about 5,200 jobs, or 7%, from 2016 to 2026.

Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers

Other career options for those interested in working with metal and machinery are the jobs of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers. Although each of these careers requires slightly different skills, they all require technical competence and some postsecondary technical training. Welders use torches to heat and join metal pieces, while cutters may use the same torches to cut metal pieces apart. Solderers and brazers use molten metal as a glue to attach metal pieces. Jobs for these workers are expected to increase by 6% from 2016 to 2026, which is a fast as average rate of growth. In May 2017, the BLS reported that these workers had a median annual salary of $40,240, or $19.35 an hour.

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