Become a Machinist
If you have thought about a career in manufacturing, or perhaps more specifically as a machinist, we can walk you through the process to get more information to explore or prepare for this career.
Below are information and links to help walk you through the steps you need to help you learn and plan for your future. Links are also provided to reach out to other resources to learn more and help you connect to training, employers, and other resources for your career.
The future is yours. All you need to do is take the first steps. There are no barriers except those you create for yourself. Anything is possible if you take steps to move forward. You're taking those steps now by learning more and making your plans.
Start at $50,000 a year?
Your salary depends on several things. However, machinists typically start between $22-27 per hour depending on your qualifications, your location, your employer, etc. You can earn more with overtime, additional certifications, and promotions.
You also have benefits from most employers, such as health insurance, dental, vision, life insurance, 401(k) or other retirement plans, bonuses, and others. These are typically valued at 25-35% of your salary (in addition to what you make in your base pay).
If you do it right, you can find ways to pay for your training and walk into your career with little or no debt. Starting your training in high school or immediately after high school means you can jump right into a high paying career with great potential.
After 5-years, most machinists have typically been promoted to a Machinist 2 or similar role. The requirements and titles differ by employer. It is not uncommon to make between $25-30 per hour or more, again depending on qualifications and location. Machining is a great career with a great future.
Step 1: Career Interest
If you already know a career as a Machinist is for you, go ahead to the next step. If you are still not sure, let's talk.
Do you like to make things with your hands?
Does making things for aerospace, medical, auto, or other industries interest you? Does the idea of taking ideas from paper and creating something excite you?
Do you like using the latest in technology?
Are you ready to use the latest equipment and machinery? Do you want to be a part of making machinery for high-tech equipment, aerospace, rockets, and drones? Do you want to program and run computer programs that operate robotics and other machines?
Are you skilled?
Are you good at math, problem-solving, and innovating? Do you want to be known for your unique talents? Do you want to turn your ideas into usable parts and solutions?
Do you want to use "cool tools"?
Do you want to use the latest tech in machinery? Does Advanced Manufacturing sound exciting? Do you want to use state-of-the-art tools and cutting-edge strategies?
If you answered "yes", manufacturing may be right for you.
You may consider taking a Career Assessment to determine if Manufacturing is for you.
If you know Machining is right, let's move on.
Step 2: Explore Machining
Next - let's further explore a career as a Machinist. As a CNC machinist, you are a critical member of an entire industrial engineering team. You are a builder, fabricator, mechanic, craftsperson, and quality assurance specialist all rolled into one.
Machinists set up and operate various computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.
CNC machinists work with heavy machinery from setup through completion.
CNC machines cut, grind and drill raw materials to be used across many manufacturing areas.
Machinists oversee these machines and make adjustments that control the speed, how the material feeds, and the path of where to cut.
Here are some examples of what a machinist does:
Here are a few other resources to learn more about Machining and other related careers.
Learn about up to 141 careers in manufacturing, average salaries, education pathways, and other information to pursue a career in the industry.
Career OneStop (Machinist Information Overview)
Washington Careerbridge (Machinist Info Overview)
Washington Careerbridge (Manufacturing Cluster)
Examples of Jobs in Machining
Here are just a few examples.
CNC Machine Operator
Run high-tech precision cutting machines to make tools and parts.
From an operator, many are put in charge of setting-up CNC machines. This includes understanding GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerancing) and changing the CNC machine’s controller.
As a Programmer, you create code that tells the CNC systems how to make the part you need. This includes programming, designing parts, and optimizing performance. Often, you will also inspect your parts.
You may want to lead and manage others. Managers train employees, enforce safety rules, assign tasks, and oversee employee work.
CNC machinists are in high demand, especially those with programming skills and knowledge of advanced machinery. It’s a fantastic job with opportunities all over the country.
Examples of Jobs in Manufacturing
Here are just a few examples.
Fabricate, create, and maintain equipment and parts. Build and repair.
Develop a skill set to become an expert in a specific field and provide tech services.
Ensure quality standards in production to maintain production & profits.
Design equipment, parts, buildings, cars, etc., using high-tech design software.
Automate CNC machines, robotic functions, and production processes.
Bring final products to life as you combine parts to deliver final products.
Become the most important person in manufacturing by knowing a little about everything.
Videos About Machining
Videos Provided by CareerExplore NW.
Videos About Machining
Videos Provided by CareerExplore NW.
Step 3: High School
If you are interested in Machining, you don't have to wait until after high school to prepare for your career. There are several opportunities to get started today to get you ahead and ready for work. Here are a few.
Consider exploring a pre-apprenticeship program such as one provided by the Machinists Institute or AJAC.
MIYA (Machinists Institute Youth Apprenticeship)
Click the link to contact MI to learn more about enrolling in a Youth Apprenticeship to begin your Machinist journey while you're still in high school.
Click the link to contact AJAC to learn more about enrolling in a Youth Apprenticeship to begin your Machinist journey.
Dual Credit/Running Start
You may look into programs aligned with your local community college that offer dual credit options. These allow you to earn college credits toward an Associate's Degree or Certificate program while in high school. Contact your counselor for more information.
Want to earn high school credit while you work? And possibly be paid too? Consider a WBL program where you can work for an employer for credit. You may work during the school day as a part of your CTE program. You get credit, the employer gets an employee, you both win. Talk to your high school counselor for more information.
If you live near a skills center, you may be able to concentrate on a specific program to accelerate your learning and preparation. You can concentrate on a career in machining (or another trade) and get closer to being workforce ready by graduation.
There's nothing better than experience. Did you know you can work on the production floor as early as 14 or 16? Finding a summer job in manufacturing can help you get further faster.
Step 4: Pathways
There are different pathways you can take to a career in machining. Here are a few of them.
Community College Programs
Several options exist at community colleges in the state, such as the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Machinist/CNC Technology or the Certificate in Industrial and Manufacturing Technology.
Click for Information about options available through Spokane Community College's Machinists Program.
You can receive training through an apprenticeship program to become a qualified Machinist. Check out these apprenticeship programs:
Industry Recognized Certificates
Certificates and IRCs may be available depending on the nature of the position you seek. Examples of IRCs include:
You may choose to complete a certification right out of high school. You may also find a job first and return with your employer's help to complete the certificate.
Direct-to-Employment / On-the-Job Training
You may find that getting an entry-level job right out of high school is your best option. If you took courses or earned certificates in high school, this makes sense - as a workforce-ready candidate, you are ready to work.
If you are not as prepared, you may still choose to go right to work. Many employers have on-the-job training programs that help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to become a highly skilled professional. They may also offer several professional development programs that allow you to return to school or earn credentials later.
Step 5: Employment
Remember - there are no shortcuts! It's up to you to gain the qualifications needed to get the job you want. When you get them, you also need to be ready to compete for the job to show your employer that you can add the value they need to meet their goals.
Be sure to check out our resources to help you improve your Career Skills preparation to know what employers are looking for. Spend the right time preparing your "tools" for the job hunt, such as your resume, cover letter, and interview skills. It's not just what you know and can do...it's what you can demonstrate to your employer that you have and can bring to the job.
As you consider a job in Advanced Manufacturing, you may wonder what types of knowledge and skills are commonly expected or required. We have provided several resources to help you know what employers expect in general. For those who are interested in machining or manufacturing, these resources may help.
The following site has information specific to competencies that are essential to workplace success. (From CareerOneStop.org)
Industry Models - Competency-Based Models
Advanced Manufacturing - Competency Model
"Building Blocks" of Competencies" -Understanding what goes into a competency-based skills model.
NIMS/ANSI/NTMA Duties & Standards for Machining Skills:
O*NET OnLine Machinist Resources