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A Machinist’s Life

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

So you’re considering a career in machining? Excellent. Precision machinists are critical to modern life for their role in making the essential components for today’s technologies. There’s no shortage of opportunities for employment, engagement, and advancement in this profession.


Here’s the lowdown on the highlights of such a trade.


What machinists do

  • Plan and prepare for projects by reviewing blueprints and specifications.

  • Set up and operate a variety of machine tools to cut or grind metal, plastic, or other materials according to precise specifications.

  • Inspect machined parts and tooling to maintain quality-control standards.

  • Make precision metal parts utilizing machine tools like lathes, milling machines, and machining centres, typically in large volumes of a single part, but also in specialized small quantities of unique or special parts.

  • Some machinists are involved in machine maintenance, repairing or creating new components for old machinery.

What machinists need

  • A strong foundation in mathematics (particularly trigonometry), blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting.

  • A general understanding of the properties of various metals (including their requirements around lubrication, expansion, heating, and cooling).

  • A sound and thorough understanding of the use of machine tools.

  • Excellent mechanical aptitude, problem-solving skills, comfort with jobs that require extreme precision and accuracy, and an ability to work in partnership with computer-control programmers, since many new machine tools are computer numerically controlled (CNC).

How machinists get qualified

  • A vocational diploma in machining is usually required to enter this occupation, and a vocational attestation in machining on numeric control (NC) machine tools is an asset, particularly for promotion to positions as inspectors and machining forepersons.

How machinists progress

Machinists can be in regular receipt of on-the-job promotions to the roles of:

  • CNC programmers

  • Tool and die makers

  • Mould makers

  • Supervisors or administrators

Experience in small workshops helps workers advance to better-paying positions in large companies.

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