Job and Die Setters
Most setup operators work in factories that make cars, trucks, planes, and other types of machinery. While they work in every state, most jobs are located in the midwestern, northeastern, and far western sections of the United States. Most are found in or near major metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Detroit. Since many manufacturers have moved operations outside the United States, fewer jobs of this nature are available than in years past.
Job seekers should apply directly to machine shops or factories. Workers begin as machine tool operators to gain skill and experience. After several years as a machine operator, and if enough proficiency has been shown in this entry-level position, the next step is to apply for a job setter training position. Or, inquire whether the manufacturer or industry you're interested in working in has an apprenticeship program. Metal die and job setters can seek an apprenticeship through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.
Most employees consider advancing from setter to shop supervisor a natural step. Some also further their careers by taking classes at a technical school or a two-year college. This may help them advance to more skilled work, such as numerical control tool programming or tool designing, which is more lucrative than operating machines. Skilled setup operators might also consider opening their own shops. To be successful, however, workers should prepare themselves by acquiring business and computer skills.
Tips for Entry
Sharpen your problem-solving skills. Workers in this job often have to be able to figure out what is causing a problem or defect in a machine or product and correct it.
Eye-hand coordination is important for job and die setters. Perform exercises to keep your coordination tuned.
Stay physically active and fit. Job and die setters are on their feet most of the day and may be required to lift and move heavy objects. Staying fit will allow you to perform the job efficiently.