A Day in the Life of a Machinist

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If you’re mechanically-skilled and uninterested in spending four years working towards a college degree, you might consider becoming a machinist. As of 2021, the average machinist earned $44,813 per year. That’s a solid number for a position that you can train for on the job.

But before you commit to becoming a machinist, you should spend some time learning about what the job entails. Doing so is an essential part of determining whether it’s right for you.

There are several different ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to take a look at what a typical machinist’s day looks like. That’s why we’ve put together the following information. Below, you’ll learn more about what machinists do on an average day and what it takes to become one. Keep reading to learn more.

Where do machinists work?

Machinists usually work in factories. But they can also work in places like machine shops and toolrooms.

There are some pros and cons to these settings. On the plus side, machinists tend to work in the same location each day. If you get hired, you probably won’t have to deal with being away from home for extended periods or having to travel for work very often.

However, the locations that machinists work in can also be loud, chaotic, and dangerous. You’ll likely get used to this aspect of the job as the years go by, but it’s something to keep in mind before getting into the line of work. If noise isn’t for you, then becoming a machinist might not be either.

Is a machinist’s job dangerous?

Machinists spend their days working closely with heavy equipment. This presents some dangers that you should be aware of before committing to a career. For example, heavy machines can shift while in use. This can cause serious crushing injuries to people who aren’t careful around the machines.

Additionally, heavy machines can be unforgiving while in use. Many rely on chains and gears that can catch loose articles of clothing or hair. If this happens, the person could be seriously injured before the machine can be turned off.

New industrial technologies are being developed to reduce the risk of human injury in the workplace. But that risk still exists, so you will always need to practice caution while working as a machinist.

A day in the life of a machinist

Learning about an average day in the life of a machinist can be a great way to figure out whether the job is right for you. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you might spend your days if you get hired in this role.

CLOCKING IN AND GETTING STARTED

Machinists begin their days at a normal time, somewhere between 8:00 and 9:30 in the morning. However, a machinist may be asked to work later hours or even an overnight shift depending on their employer’s needs.

Once the machinist has clocked in, they’ll put on their safety gear. This typically includes safety glasses and ear protectors to safeguard your ears against the noisy workplace. A machinist may also need to wear steel-toed boots to keep their feet safe from the heavy objects they work with.

After these two tasks are accomplished, the machinist will look at their assignments for the day and begin gathering the tools and materials they need to accomplish those tasks.

WORKING ON THE DAY’S TASKS

The daily tasks that a machinist completes can vary considerably from one day to another. They may include things like:

Machinists need to be comfortable quickly shifting their focus from one task to another. Their days may begin with a straightforward list of tasks to complete. But that list can quickly change depending on how the day goes and whether anything unexpected occurs.

Generally, a machinist will spend the majority of their day working on tasks like these and responding to anything unusual that comes up throughout the day. Like all employees, machinists get to take a lunch break and several shorter breaks throughout the day.

FINISHING UP FOR THE DAY

Machinists usually work forty hours each week. Most have a standard 9:00-5:00 schedule. However, a machinist may sometimes be asked to stay at work later than 5:00. 

This typically happens when there’s an unresolved problem with a machine. When that happens, a machinist will need to stay at work until either the issue is resolved or a replacement arrives to relieve them.

But assuming that nothing is going wrong at the time, a machinist will begin finishing up their tasks for the day around 5:00. They’ll put away any tools that they were using, change out of their safety gear, and clock out of work for the evening.

Can you train to be a machinist on the job?

The majority of machinists train for the role through apprenticeship programs. These can be very lengthy to complete, with some requiring upwards of 6,000 hours of supervised work experience to finish.

Additionally, many machinist apprenticeship programs have an in-class component. You may need to spend as much as 700 hours in the classroom to finish your machinist apprenticeship.

Given the number of hours required by apprenticeship programs, most people take 3-4 years to complete them. That may seem like a long time, but keep in mind that you’ll be getting paid for all of the work that you do. 

For many people, that will be preferable to pursuing a four-year college degree without being paid for the training you complete.

Is becoming a machinist right for you?

There are a few things that you should consider before deciding whether becoming a machinist is right for you.

SALARY EXPECTATIONS

The average machinist makes about $44,000 per year. But as you gain experience, you will be able to qualify for roles that pay more. For example, the average annual salary for a level III machinist is $65,230

Before committing to becoming a machinist, you should decide whether this level of salary will work for you long-term. If it doesn’t, then you may want to look into other employment opportunities instead of becoming a machinist.

WORKING CONDITIONS

It’s also important to spend some time considering whether the working conditions of a machinist align with your preferences. Factories and manufacturing facilities can be noisy, dangerous places. Some people thrive on that type of chaos and energy. But others may quickly grow tired of it.

If you’re not sure about this, then you may want to look into getting an entry-level job that takes place in a similar setting. You can work this to develop a familiarity with manufacturing facilities and factories that will give you a better sense of whether becoming a machinist is right for you.

YOUR SKILLSET

Machinists rely on their mechanical expertise to operate, repair, and maintain various types of heavy machinery. If you’re someone who struggles to use hand tools effectively, then it could be very hard for you to develop the skills you need to excel as a machinist.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on this career path if you’re not already mechanically-skilled. Rather, you may just need to spend a bit more time on your training process if you don’t already have some of the skills that machinists need.

YOUR WILLINGNESS TO TRAIN

You’ll likely need to complete an apprenticeship to start finding machinist jobs in your area. As discussed above, these can take as long as four years to complete. 

Are you willing to invest that amount of time into becoming a machinist? Or, if you have to spend that time training to be something anyway, would you rather train to become something else? These are questions that you have answers to before you start down the path of becoming a machinist.

Getting hired as a machinist is easier with Surehand

If you’ve decided that being a machinist is right for you, then consider using Surehand to get hired as one. We make it much easier to find skilled industrial jobs in your area.

To get started, all that you need to do is download our app and create a free profile with your employment information. Once you’ve done that, we’ll automatically begin connecting you with industrial employers who are looking for machinists with your type of experience.

Getting your first job as a machinist could be as simple as creating a free profile with Surehand. So why wait? Download our app today to get started.

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