Machinist Video: Educational Requirements for a Career in Metal Fabrication

Machinist Video: Educational Requirements for a Career in Metal Fabrication Transcript

Do you like to solve problems and work with your hands? You may want to consider becoming a machinist. Machinists use heavy machinery, such as lathes and metal mills, to form metal according to drawn schematics. Metal fabrication requires obsessive attention to detail and significant on-the-job training, but the career possibilities are impressive.


Metal fabricators, more commonly known as machinists, work with machines to shape metal for tools, engines and other industrial needs. The demands within this career field can range from simple production to interpreting incredibly complex metal designs.

Job Skills and Duties

Machinists use tools like lathes and milling machines to form metal with absolute precision. Since different metals have different properties, machinists must learn how to adjust machines accordingly when working with steel, aluminum or titanium. They must also learn how to read blueprints before they can properly calculate how a project should be started and completed. Accuracy is essential to making the right cuts. Most machinists are also responsible for monitoring equipment, maintaining tools and performing tasks on computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

Training Required

A machinist's training can range from apprenticeships to formal schooling. Most machinists learn the bulk of their trade on-the-job. As apprentices, individuals often work for up to four years under an experienced machinist before beginning to work on their own. Aspiring machinists who want faster entry into the field often turn to vocational schools and community colleges, where diploma and degree programs exist. Many of these programs implement the national standards developed by the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Students who attend approved programs can be granted a NIMS credential. A journeyworker certification can also be obtained from State apprenticeship boards once an apprenticeship has been completed.

Well Known Jobs within This Field of Expertise

Machinists can end up working in many different industries. Some fabricators work in manufacturing plants to make screws, bolts and similar mass-produced metal fixtures. Others focus on creating one-of-a-kind items. In the aerospace industry, fabricators work with aluminum, shaping wings and tooling various aeronautical parts. In the automotive industry, machinists mill metals into engines, pistons and other automotive parts based of a schematic.


Regardless of where they work, machinists and metal fabrication specialists enjoy working with their hands. The most successful machinists are dedicated to the craft and willing to learn new technologies.


Bureau of Labor Statistic Occupation Outlook Handbook - Machinists

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