Fully qualified machinists possess the knowledge and abilities to set up and machine using conventional, portable and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines that cut or grind metal and other materials into products with precise dimensions. These machines include lathes, milling machines, saws, grinding machines, drilling machines, boring machines, line borers and portable milling machines.
Machinists work from drawings, specifications and their own measurements to calculate dimensions, tolerances and types of fit. Precise measurements are critical to machinists’ work. They must be knowledgeable about the properties of metals and non-metallic materials.
Machinists may work in industries where machines are manufactured, repaired or used. These may include industries that manufacture machinery equipment, motor vehicle or aerospace parts. Machinists produce precision parts that are used in all aspects of manufacturing. They may also work in shipyards, rail yards, refineries, pulp and paper mills, mines, smelters, metal fabricating and repair shops. Shiftwork is common in some companies. Machinists tend to work indoors.
Safety is important at all times. There are risks of injury working with moving machine parts, sharp edges, flying debris and extreme temperatures from heated or chilled materials. Precautions are required while working with manufacturing chemicals and airborne irritants.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are: communication skills, mechanical aptitude, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, an ability to work independently and knowledge of mathematics and physics. The work often requires considerable standing and the handling of heavy objects. This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of other tradespeople such as tool and die makers, mould makers, welders and industrial mechanics (millwrights).
Experienced machinists may move into supervisory positions. With additional training, they may transfer their skills to related occupations such as tool and die maker, mould maker, industrial mechanic (millwright) or CNC programmer.