Most precision metalworkers are employed in independent job shops where tools and dies are tailor-made for a variety of manufacturers. These shops are generally located in the Midwest, Northeast, and West. The largest concentration is in Michigan. Precision metalworkers also work in industries that manufacture machines and equipment for metalworking, automobiles, and other motor vehicles, aircraft, and plastics products.
There are various sources for information about apprentice programs and job openings for prospective precision metalworkers. These include the state employment offices; local employers, such as tool and die shops and manufacturing firms; various metalworking trade associations; and the local offices of unions, such as the United Auto Workers or the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Additionally, high school, vocational school, and technical institute students may get help from their teachers or the career services office at their schools.
After completing apprenticeship training, workers often need several more years' experience to learn the most difficult and specialized skills. Well-qualified, experienced workers may have several avenues of advancement open to them. There is a shortage of precision metalworkers, so opportunities are plentiful for those who have good experience. Some may choose to move into a larger shop for more pay or accept a supervisory position. Others may decide to become a tool designer or specialist in programming computer numerical control tool machines.
Another possibility for some tool makers is to become a tool inspector in an industry that requires a particularly high degree of accuracy in components. Many workers go into business for themselves, opening their own independent job shops to make items for manufacturing firms that do not maintain their own tool-making or die-making department.
Tips for Entry
Visit a machine shop in your area and talk to the metalworkers about their jobs.
Work with your career office to find a position at a machine shop after high school.
Enroll in an apprencticeship program sponsored by a union or manufacturer.