Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and machining centers, to produce precision metal parts. Although they may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. They use their knowledge of the working properties of metals and their skill with machine tools to plan and carry out the operations needed to make machined products that meet precise specifications.

Job Outlook and Growth Potential:

Despite projected slower-than-average employment growth, job opportunities for machinists should continue to be excellent. Many young people with the necessary educational and personal qualifications needed to obtain machining skills may prefer to attend college or may not wish to enter production occupations. Therefore, the number of workers obtaining the skills and knowledge necessary to fill machinist jobs is expected to be less than the number of job openings arising each year from employment growth and from the need to replace experienced machinists who transfer to other occupations or retire.

Employment of machinists is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations over the 2002-12 period because of rising productivity among these workers. Machinists will become more efficient as a result of the expanded use of and improvements in technologies such as CNC machine tools, autoloaders, and high-speed machining. This allows fewer machinists to accomplish the same amount of work previously performed by more workers. Technology is not expected to affect the employment of machinists as significantly as that of most other production occupations, however, because machinists monitor and maintain many automated systems. Due to modern production techniques, employers prefer workers, such as machinists, who have a wide range of skills and are capable of performing almost any task in a machine shop.

Wages and Earnings Potential:

Median hourly earnings of machinists were $15.66 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.15 and $19.45. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.57, while the top 10 percent earned more than $23.17. Median hourly earnings in the manufacturing industries employing the largest number of machinists in 2002 were:

Metalworking machinery manufacturing $16.75
Other general purpose machinery manufacturing $15.91
Machine shops; turned product; and screw, nut, and bolt manufacturing $15.45
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing $15.18
Employment services $9.41

Copyright © 2014, Ohio's 2-Year Council of Deans and Directors of Engineering & Industrial Technologies

Career information from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition and member schools.