What does a Machinist do?

A machinist operates computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, such as lathes and milling machines, to cut and produce precision parts for machines, instruments, and tools. Machinist repair or produce parts using both manual and automated equipment with precise measurements. Essentially, a machinists' goal is to ensure effective production operations and optimize procedures. A machinist typically works in manufacturing plants.

Most machinist have at least a high school diploma, however, a completed apprenticeship or vocational training is preferred. Successful machinists possess excellent mathematical and analytical skills and have great manual dexterity.

What responsibilities are common for Machinist jobs?
  • Review samples, drawings or instructions to understand specifications of output
  • Take measurements and mark material for cutting or shaping
  • Plan the sequence of necessary actions for the completion of a job
  • Select appropriate machines (e.g. lathes) and position or load material for a job
  • Monitor machine while working to adjust the feed, maintain temperature and identify issues
  • Determine and program size of batches and speed of machine
  • Monitor output to ensure consistency with specifications and discard defects
  • Perform routine machine maintenance and repair minor damages
What are the typical qualifications for Machinist jobs?
  • Vocational school or apprenticeship preferred
  • Excellent manual dexterity, accuracy and attention to detail
  • Great verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience in using and/or programming manual, semi-automated or automated tools and machines (lathes, grinders etc.)
  • Ability to use precision tools (e.g. calipers) to take accurate measurements
  • Ability to read blueprints, schematics and manuals
  • Knowledge of metal properties and other material
  • Outstanding mathematical skills and analytical abilities
  • Physical stamina and strength to lift heavy items
EducationAssociate's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.0 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.0 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Machinist make near United States?

$55,204 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Machinist Career Path

Learn how to become a Machinist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Senior Machinist
Machinist IV

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Machinist Insights

Read what Machinist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
FEMA CorporationFEMA Corporation
CNC Operator
May 19, 2022

“Continuous improvement meetings that normally create positive momentum toward better and faster ways to do your job.”

Kansas City National Security CampusKansas City National Security Campus
General Machinist
Jun 14, 2021

“It's miserable and the only reason so many people work here is because the pay is almost TOO good.”

L.A. GaugeL.A. Gauge
CNC Machinist
Aug 20, 2021

“My opportunity to work for LA gauge was perfectly what I needed to further my career as a career machinist”

Baker HughesBaker Hughes
CNC Machinist
May 16, 2023

“Pay scale is not clearly defined nor what determines you reaching the next pay grade.”

ARCH Cutting ToolsARCH Cutting Tools
CNC Machinists
Jun 1, 2022

“There is never a shortage of hours so your guaranteed 40 hour weeks plus optional overtime.”

Norfolk Naval ShipyardNorfolk Naval Shipyard
Jul 31, 2022

“A good place to start your career as a Journeyman in your selected field of endeavor.”

O.C. TannerO.C. Tanner
Feb 1, 2022

“Can't really say much on cons but the pay is a little out of date.”

US Marine CorpsUS Marine Corps
May 14, 2022

“I had the opportunity to learn a good skill that I otherwise may not have pursued and I actually enjoyed the job.”

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Machinist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a Machinist

When working as a Machinist, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are CNC Programming, Mechanical Drawing, Gages, CAD/CAM, and Tolerance.

The most similar professions to Machinist are:
  • Welder
  • Machine Operator
  • Mechanic
  • Millwright

The most common qualifications to become a Machinist include a minimum of a Associate's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 years of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.

Related Careers

No skills overlap
Machine Operator
38% skills overlap
No skills overlap
13% skills overlap

Machinist Jobs