Most of the approximately 383,470 precision machinists employed in the United States work in small machining shops or with manufacturers that produce durable goods, such as products and parts for industrial machinery, aircraft, or automobiles. Maintenance machinists work in practically all industries that use production machinery. Although machinists work in all parts of the country, the largest number of employers are found in areas where manufacturing is concentrated, such as the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast.
To find job leads, you should try searching online employment sites and newspaper classified sections, or contact potential employers directly to ask about opportunities. Other sources of information are state employment offices, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship, and union headquarters, such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers or the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. If you receive formal postsecondary training from a community college or technical school, you may find job assistance from the school's career counselors or career services offices.
After several years of developing their skills, precision machinists have many advancement opportunities. They may choose to specialize in niches such as tool and die design or fabrication, sales, or instrument repairing. In large production shops, machinists have the opportunity to become setup operators or layout workers.
Those who have good judgment, excellent planning skills, and the ability to deal well with people may advance to supervisory positions, such as shop supervisor or plant manager. With additional education, some machinists may become tool engineers. Finally, some skilled and experienced workers eventually go into business for themselves.
Tips for Entry
Try to find a summer job in a machine shop or manufacturing operation to gain firsthand experience about the job skills of precision machinists.
Enroll in a machinist apprenticeship program sponsored by a local union or manufacturer.
Attend a community or technical college to receive training as a machinist.