Job description

Machinists create, modify and repair metal parts, instruments and tools such as hydraulic parts, antilock brakes and automobile pistons. They produce these items by reading blueprints and sketches and by operating computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools. Machinists are responsible for monitoring the feed and speed of machines, ensuring parts meet specifications and testing completed products for defects.


    • Create, modify and repair metal parts, instruments and tools
    • Read and follow blueprints and sketches to produce items
    • Refer to computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files
    • Operate mechanically controlled and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools
    • Drill, shape, align, smooth, secure and grind machine parts
    • Observe the feed and speed of machines
    • Evaluate and test products for defects
    • Present completed items to customers

Skills and qualities

Manual dexterity
Attention to detail
Physical stamina
Computer software

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Some machinists choose to change paths and become tool and die makers. With enough experience, skills and knowledge, these professionals may also advance their prospects and embark on careers in inspection, quality control or production planning.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Some evenings and weekends

Machinists are typically based in product manufacturing plants. This role involves working around noisy machinery that can sometimes be hazardous. Machinists must, therefore, follow precautions to avoid injuries, such as wearing protective gear. This includes safety glasses to stay protected from flying pieces of metal, earplugs to diminish machinery noise and masks to prevent exposure to fumes.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High school

On-the-job training

Study time

12 months

Entry requirements for machinists usually include a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employment opportunities are increased for those who have participated in apprenticeship programmes at a community college or technical school.

Training for this position is provided on the job and can take up to a year. Aspiring machinists should also be experienced in using the required CAD/CAM technology and CNC machine tools.

While not required, machinists can complete a certification programme at institutions to enhance job opportunities.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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