What does a Machinist do?

A machinist operates computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, such as lathes and milling machines, to cut and produce precision parts for machines, instruments, and tools. Machinist repair or produce parts using both manual and automated equipment with precise measurements. Essentially, a machinists' goal is to ensure effective production operations and optimize procedures. A machinist typically works in manufacturing plants.

Most machinist have at least a high school diploma, however, a completed apprenticeship or vocational training is preferred. Successful machinists possess excellent mathematical and analytical skills and have great manual dexterity.

What responsibilities are common for Machinist jobs?
  • Review samples, drawings or instructions to understand specifications of output
  • Take measurements and mark material for cutting or shaping
  • Plan the sequence of necessary actions for the completion of a job
  • Select appropriate machines (e.g. lathes) and position or load material for a job
  • Monitor machine while working to adjust the feed, maintain temperature and identify issues
  • Determine and program size of batches and speed of machine
  • Monitor output to ensure consistency with specifications and discard defects
  • Perform routine machine maintenance and repair minor damages
What are the typical qualifications for Machinist jobs?
  • Vocational school or apprenticeship preferred
  • Excellent manual dexterity, accuracy and attention to detail
  • Great verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience in using and/or programming manual, semi-automated or automated tools and machines (lathes, grinders etc.)
  • Ability to use precision tools (e.g. calipers) to take accurate measurements
  • Ability to read blueprints, schematics and manuals
  • Knowledge of metal properties and other material
  • Outstanding mathematical skills and analytical abilities
  • Physical stamina and strength to lift heavy items
EducationAssociate's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.0 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.0 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Machinist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$62,422 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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$43K
Median: $62K
$91K
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Machinist Career Path

Learn how to become a Machinist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Machinist
$62,422/yr
L3
L4
Machinist IV
$58,945/yr
L2

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
7%
2 - 4
34%
5 - 7
7%
8+
52%
Not including years spent in education and/or training
See Career Path

Machinist Insights

Read what Machinist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
DonsonDonson
CNC Machinist
Feb 10, 2021

“Donson provided me with excellent training and still do this day I am learning great skills!”

FEMA CorporationFEMA Corporation
CNC Operator
May 19, 2022

“Continuous improvement meetings that normally create positive momentum toward better and faster ways to do your job.”

Kansas City National Security CampusKansas City National Security Campus
General Machinist
Jun 14, 2021

“It's miserable and the only reason so many people work here is because the pay is almost TOO good.”

L.A. GaugeL.A. Gauge
CNC Machinist
Aug 20, 2021

“My opportunity to work for LA gauge was perfectly what I needed to further my career as a career machinist”

ARCH Cutting ToolsARCH Cutting Tools
CNC Machinists
Jun 1, 2022

“There is never a shortage of hours so your guaranteed 40 hour weeks plus optional overtime.”

Libra Industries
CNC Machinist
Jul 9, 2021

“I took a very low initial wage because I’m not afraid to work my way up.”

Norfolk Naval ShipyardNorfolk Naval Shipyard
TOOLMAKER
Jul 31, 2022

“A good place to start your career as a Journeyman in your selected field of endeavor.”

O.C. TannerO.C. Tanner
Machinist
Feb 1, 2022

“Can't really say much on cons but the pay is a little out of date.”

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Machinist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a Machinist

When working as a Machinist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are CNC Programming, Mechanical Drawing, Gages, CAD/CAM and Tolerance.

The most similar professions to Machinist are:
  • Welder
  • Machine Operator
  • Mechanic
  • Millwright

The most common qualifications to become a Machinist is a minimum of a Associate's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.

Related Careers

Welder
$61,669
No skills overlap
Machine Operator
$42,524
38% skills overlap
Mechanic
$68,929
No skills overlap
Millwright
$75,472
13% skills overlap

Machinist jobs