Machinists
51-4041.00

Set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments out of metal. Includes precision instrument makers who fabricate, modify, or repair mechanical instruments. May also fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or maintain industrial machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, mathematics, metal properties, layout, and machining procedures.

Sample of reported job titles: CNC Machinist (Computer Numeric Controlled Machinist), CNC Machinist (Computer Numerically Controlled Machinist), Gear Machinist, Machine Repair Person, Machinist, Maintenance Machinist, Manual Lathe Machinist, Production Machinist, Tool Room Machinist

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Calculate dimensions or tolerances, using instruments, such as micrometers or vernier calipers.
  • Machine parts to specifications, using machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, shapers, or grinders.
  • Measure, examine, or test completed units to check for defects and ensure conformance to specifications, using precision instruments, such as micrometers.
  • Set up, adjust, or operate basic or specialized machine tools used to perform precision machining operations.
  • Program computers or electronic instruments, such as numerically controlled machine tools.
  • Study sample parts, blueprints, drawings, or engineering information to determine methods or sequences of operations needed to fabricate products.
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines during the machining process.
  • Maintain machine tools in proper operational condition.
  • Fit and assemble parts to make or repair machine tools.
  • Align and secure holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, or materials onto machines.
  • Confer with numerical control programmers to check and ensure that new programs or machinery will function properly and that output will meet specifications.
  • Operate equipment to verify operational efficiency.
  • Evaluate machining procedures and recommend changes or modifications for improved efficiency or adaptability.
  • Diagnose machine tool malfunctions to determine need for adjustments or repairs.
  • Design fixtures, tooling, or experimental parts to meet special engineering needs.
  • Dispose of scrap or waste material in accordance with company policies and environmental regulations.
  • Confer with engineering, supervisory, or manufacturing personnel to exchange technical information.
  • Lay out, measure, and mark metal stock to display placement of cuts.
  • Separate scrap waste and related materials for reuse, recycling, or disposal.
  • Check work pieces to ensure that they are properly lubricated or cooled.
  • Support metalworking projects from planning and fabrication through assembly, inspection, and testing, using knowledge of machine functions, metal properties, and mathematics.
  • Install repaired parts into equipment or install new equipment.
  • Dismantle machines or equipment, using hand tools or power tools to examine parts for defects and replace defective parts where needed.
  • Test experimental models under simulated operating conditions, for purposes such as development, standardization, or feasibility of design.
  • Set up or operate metalworking, brazing, heat-treating, welding, or cutting equipment.
  • Prepare working sketches for the illustration of product appearance.
  • Establish work procedures for fabricating new structural products, using a variety of metalworking machines.
  • Install experimental parts or assemblies, such as hydraulic systems, electrical wiring, lubricants, or batteries into machines or mechanisms.
  • Advise clients about the materials being used for finished products.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 94% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 89% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 61% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 78% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 62% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 69% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Time Pressure — 57% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 42% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 46% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 62% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 56% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 56% responded “40 hours.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 40% responded “Very important.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 38% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 39% responded “Very important.”
  • Contact With Others — 36% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 54% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 38% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 33% responded “Important results.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 41% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Physical Proximity — 26% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 37% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 31% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 43% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 27% responded “Every day.”
  • Level of Competition — 36% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Consequence of Error — 25% responded “Fairly serious.”
  • Degree of Automation — 49% responded “Moderately automated.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
Education
Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related Experience
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.
SVP Range
1-2 years of preparation (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

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Knowledge

  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 36%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 33%
     
    responded: Post-secondary certificate required
  • 17%
     
    responded: Some college, no degree requiredmore info

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

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Interests

Interest code: RCI
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$22.95 hourly, $47,730 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
363,000 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Average (5% to 10%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
41,200
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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