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Machinist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Sets up and operates a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments. 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.

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster Manufacturing Production pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Calculates dimensions or tolerances, using instruments such as micrometers or vernier calipers.
  • Machines parts to specifications, using machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, shapers, or grinders.
  • Sets up, adjusts, or operates basic or specialized machine tools used to perform precision machining operations.
  • Aligns and secures holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, or materials onto machines.
  • Measures, examines, or tests completed units to check for defects and ensure conformance to specifications, using precision instruments, such as micrometers.
  • Monitors the feed and speed of machines during the machining process.
  • Maintains machine tools in proper operational condition.
  • Studies sample parts, blueprints, drawings, or engineering information to determine methods or sequences of operations needed to fabricate products.
  • Operates equipment to verify operational efficiency.
  • Checks work pieces to ensure that they are properly lubricated or cooled.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • CNC Machinist -- Interprets blueprints, manuals and other work instructions and studies sample parts to determine dimensions of finished work pieces and CNC equipment setup requirements. They then set the machine and load it with the correct cutting tools to shape parts f
  • Millwright -- Installs, dismantles, or moves machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints, or other drawings.
  • Precision Instrument Maker -- Assembles, calibrates, installs and overhauls mechanical precision instruments and equipment.
  • Tool and Die Maker -- Makes, repairs and modifies custom-made, prototype or special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures and gauges using various metals, alloys and plastics which require precise dimensions.
  • Wind Turbine Machinist -- Specialize in the production of metal and plastic parts for wind turbines.
  • Aircraft Machinist --
  • Electrical Machinist --