Mill Machinist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a mill machinist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and technical skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Mill machinists work with a client's specifications to produce manufacturing parts, which requires machine operating skills, accuracy, and adherence to safety procedures. A high school education and an accredited certificate are also mandatory for this job.

Essential Information

Mill machinists operate industrial devices that generate manufacturing parts. Many work in the aerospace industry. Essential skills are technical knowledge, computer programming experience, and precision. Most mill machinists have a high school diploma and a certificate from a technical college.

Required Education Technical school certificate
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* -20.6% for milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders of metal and plastic
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $38,250 for milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders of metal and plastic

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description for Mill Machinists

A mill machinist operates equipment such as milling machines, end mills, revolving lathe tools, and drill presses, to produce manufacturing parts out of metal, aluminum, steel, or plastic, often for the aerospace industry. Using blueprints provided by a company's engineers, mill machinists assess specifications and configure equipment to produce batches of parts.

The work requires technical knowledge and precision, since mill machinists take measurements to adequately setup the devices. They may be responsible for procedures such as cutting, squaring, milling, drilling, tapping, and boring. While some machines are operated manually, others have computer numerical control (CNC) capabilities. When programmed using CNC codes, machines do not have to be operated by hand.

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Additional Duties

Mill machinists use measuring tools such as gauges, calipers, indicators, and micrometers to perform tool changes and radius offsets. In addition to setting up, loading, and programming equipment, they're responsible for its smooth operation. An incorrect measurement or inaccurate cut, for example, could ruin an entire batch of production and negatively affect company profits. Mill machinists also perform maintenance and look for potential problems such as a poorly fitting piece or an overworked machine.

Education Requirements

Interested candidates can earn a high school diploma or equivalent followed by a certificate from an accredited technical college. Coursework may cover machine tools, mill operations, and CNC programming. Prospective mill machinists should know basic math and geometry, while elementary engineering principles may also be helpful.

Successful mill machinists are team players who pay attention to detail, can analyze a problem quickly, and troubleshoot effectively. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders for metal and plastic was $38,250 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Besides learning the basic duties on the job, training occurs through technical school, whereupon a certificate must be earned. No professional education is needed, just a technical set of skills. Job growth is expected to decline 20.6% through 2024.

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