Are you good with details? In school, did math come easier to you than some of the other subjects you had to deal with? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it may be time to consider enrolling in technical schools so you can receive the training you need to be a machinist or tool and die maker.
What will you do?
If you’re interested in becoming a machinist or tool and die maker, you’ll do just what these job titles suggest – you’ll use machines to create tools, as well as instruments and precision metal parts. While machinists and tool and die makers share certain duties, it’s important for you to know what makes them different from one another.
What are machinists’ and tool and die makers’ responsibilities?
As a machinist, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says you’ll use blueprints, computer files and other detailed information to produce machine parts that suit certain specifications. You’ll need to be good at following directions, as you’ll need to make sure the items you’re creating are what you’ve been tasked with creating.
If you become a tool and die maker, you’ll also be studying blueprints so that you set up your machines to produce tools and dies that are free of defects and align with predetermined specifications.
What types of items will you make in either profession?
With the knowledge and skills you acquire in technical training schools, you’ll produce precision metal parts, such as simple bolts, hydraulic parts, anti-lock brakes, car pistons and bone screws for orthopedic implants. In this line of work, you’re also likely to create your fair share of one-of-a-kind items.
Meanwhile, toolmakers tend to create precision tools, as well as the types of toolholders that people use to craft materials like metal. Die makers are responsible for making dies and molds that help form ceramics, plastics and other materials into desired shapes.
How do you enter this line of work?
The road to becoming a machinist or tool and die maker is a little longer than it is for other technical careers, as the BLS says it takes four to five years. During this time, you’re likely to spend time in a technical school program and receive plenty of on-the-job training.
Despite the training you’ll receive, it definitely helps to have a mix of technical, analytical and mechanical skills.
What does the future hold?
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for machinists are expected to rise a little slower than they will in other fields, with an 8% growth projected through 2020. No change is predicted for tool and die makers during the same time frame.
If you’re lucky enough to land a job as a machinist, you can expect to make anywhere between $25,055 and $59,238 each year, according to PayScale. Tool and die makers can make even more – anywhere from $36,296 to $71,698.
So do you think you have what it takes to land a job as a machinist or tool and die maker? If so, tell us what appeals to you about this line of work in the comment space below.