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How to Become an Engineering Machinist: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become an engineering machinist. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in machining.

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Should I Become an Engineering Machinist?

Engineering machinists create precision industrial parts by using machine tools to cut, shave and bore metal pieces. This job entails adjusting machine parts, measuring completed products and calculating dimensions. These workers are required to follow safety guidelines when working around potentially hazardous machine tools.

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Career Requirements

Education Level None required, though some machinists complete postsecondary training
Certification Various organizationss offer voluntary certification
Experience Entry level; formal apprenticeships and long-term job training are common
Key Skills Stamina; attention to detail; math and analytical skills; ability to work with computerized measuring machines as well as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology; ability to use tools such as power grinders, gauges and calipers
Salary $47,365 (Median from 2015 for machinists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com, O*Net OnLine.

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

Some engineering machinists enter the work force through formal apprenticeship programs. Entrance into these programs is competitive, and apprenticeship candidates typically need a high school diploma as well as a trigonometry and algebra background. Apprenticeship programs combine job training with classroom study at vocational-technical schools and community colleges. Individuals in these programs may learn about topics such as blueprint reading, machining principles and programming. Machinist apprenticeship programs, typically sponsored by a manufacturer or union, may take 4-5 years to complete.

Alternatively, an increasing number of engineering machinists receive their training in a formal postsecondary program. Some community and technical colleges offer associate's degree programs in machining technology, which include coursework in computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinery, blueprint reading, manufacturing geometry and calculations/measurements. Engineering machinists who choose this training path often do so after obtaining entry-level employment and receive on-the-job training simultaneously.

Step 2: Stay Abreast to the Latest Technology Advances

Many computer-based systems are used in the machine industry, and it's essential for machinists to stay informed of such advances. Knowledge of CAD and CAM systems, for example, can be beneficial to heavy machine operators.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Certification is available for individuals seeking better job opportunities or other professional benefits. Candidates may seek certification through colleges, training facilities or other establishments. For example, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) offers more than 50 credentials related to metalworking, such as multiple levels of machining and screw machining designations. To earn NIMS certification, candidates must pass a theory test and a performance test.

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