Machinists set up and operate precision metal cutting and grinding machines, lathes, milling machines, drill presses and grinders in order to cut or mold materials such as plastic and metal.
As modern machine tools are often computer-driven, a Machinist can also be involved in programming and operating high-tech equipment. Machinists make parts and do repair work, custom fabrication and mass production manufacturing.
Without the expertise of Machinists, many products we use in a variety of goods would not have the quality and safety they should have for consumers.
In addition, the job prospect for Machinists is among one of the many in demand within the skilled trades. Machinists work in the automotive, aerospace and transportation sectors, in machine shops, and for manufacturing companies, however career opportunities can be found in a number of other industries as well.
Common job titles
- Automotive Machinist
- General Machinist
- Machine Tool Set-up Operator
- Machinist Apprentice
- Maintenance Machinist
The job profile of a Machinist Technician
A Machinist’s daily activity can range from interpreting engineering blueprints and studying samples to measuring different materials from which they will create parts. A Machinist plays an integral role in the building process of new products and also operate a series of machine tools that range from computer-controlled to precision and drilling tools.
As you can see, being a Machinist encompasses an eye for the practical while also having a bit of creativity to envision what your next creation will look like.
What skills are required?
- Knowledge of/experience with computer numerically controlled (known as NC or CNC) machine tools as well as more traditional machining tools
- Skills in mathematics, electronics, controls and programming, metrology and reading blueprints
- Good manual dexterity, a sense of observation and an ability to visualize the objects to be produced
- Principles of machine shop safety
- Ability to select machinable metals and plastics and the machining tools and abrasives appropriate to their machining characteristics
How do I become a Machinist?
There are a number of routes you can take to become a Machinist. The completion of secondary school in combination with work experience is sufficient for some jobs, while a four-year apprenticeship program may be required for others.
For certification, having work experience that exceeds four years and completing some college-level courses is typically needed. For inter-provincial certification, four years of training and a passing grade on a Certificate of Qualification exam is required.
There are also options for obtaining trade certifications in specific fields for Machinists. For example, if you’re interested in working in the automotive sector in Ontario, you can opt to achieve an “Automotive Machinist” certificate.
Which schools offer Machinist training?
For more information on apprenticeship training programs in your area, visit the website of your provincial or territorial apprenticeship office:
Where do you go from here?
With additional training and certification, Machinists can become technical specialists, such as Tool and Die Makers, or move up the ranks to become an Inspector – someone who reviews and reports on others Machinists’ work.
Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery