Becoming a Career Machinist
Machining is by far more interesting than what most people know. From the challenges of implementing new complex equipment in the shop, to CNC programming, or even making complex parts in one setup. It is definitely a career choice that most don’t know how advanced it can be, especially the machining of today. Now, we can make parts in one setup that were once made in many setups on multiple pieces of equipment over a long time frame. My career is a success story in manufacturing technology as I have embraced the technology of today.
I started my career in metalworking when I was in high school after I enrolled in the Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship program. It is a program that is a partnership between the school, state, and industry. I learned all about machining from both high school shop classes and while working in a machine shop. It proved to be an excellent foundation for my career. The shop that I worked at turned out to be an excellent learning environment. The mentors were great, they encouraged me to go on in my career and do great things.
After high school I enrolled in the Tool & Die Making Program at my local technical college. While attending school full time during the day, I worked at a tool & die shop during the night. At that time, the shop was responsible for the making of die cast dies for an American motorcycle company. After technical college graduation, I was signed on as an Apprentice Tool & Die Maker. The apprenticeship was for a term of 5 years, which equals 10,400 hours. With all of the time I put in, I finished the apprenticeship in 2 years and 4 months. During my employment there, I was able to learn almost every aspect of the shop. From die fitting and assembly, to CNC machining and CNC programming; they kept me busy. The highlight of my eight years at that tool & die shop had to be the high speed machining that I helped implement. Imagine going from cutting on a mill at 30 to 50 inches per minute to 2,300 inches per minute with the new technology.
Here are a few steps to career success that I encourage you to consider as part of your machining career:
Get a Technical Degree – A solid educational foundation is a critical building block, you will make a lot more money in your career if you follow through with a Technical College education.
Serve a State Sponsored Apprenticeship – This is an excellent way to learn the skills of the trade and climb the pay scale also. It also will ensure that you are viewed as a professional in your career. By finishing an apprenticeship and becoming a journeyman, you will be put in a position to make a good wage for the rest of your career.
Never Stop Learning – Enroll in at least two specialized classes per year. It is an excellent way to build a great resume also, as it shows future employers that you are a dedicated career professional.
Become Proficient in Working with Others – This is the most important factor of the six steps. You will have more opportunities presented to you if you have the ability to work with everyone effectively.
Gain the Ability to Turn Manufacturing Issues into Career Opportunities - Some may look away from the major issues that hinder the shop. These are the challenges that build a great resume, so ask your boss how you can help fix the major issues they encounter throughout the shop.