How Do I Become a Manual Machinist?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A manual machinist is primarily responsible for the manufacture of a variety of items in many different industries. To become a manual machinist, you should begin making preparations during high school and then move on to some formal classroom training from a community college or trade school. An apprenticeship program should be completed along with your formal education to gain practical work experience. Professional certification will assure prospective employers that your skill and training are current. For career advancement, you may also want to receive automatic machinery training after you become a manual machinist.

If you intend to become a manual machinist, make certain that you possess the physical qualities needed for this career. You must be very detailed-oriented and able to perform your work with perfect accuracy. Classes in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and physics should be taken during high school to prepare for this career. Blueprint reading and metalworking courses as well as basic computer classes will also be helpful in preparing you for trade school if they are offered.

Enrolling in a trade school or community college to learn the basics of this trade will enable you to receive instruction in the use of various machining tools, such as drill presses, milling machines, and lathes. Instruction in shop drawing and blueprint reading in addition to a number of other skills that will be required of you on the job site will also be offered. Although formal classroom training is not required by all employers, a degree or certificate can significantly increase your employment outlook.

The majority of training needed to become a manual machinist comes from hands-on experience in a machine shop. You should participate in a comprehensive apprenticeship prior to beginning this career that typically lasts from two to four years and allows you to gain valuable work experience. You will learn the procedure for machining various work pieces under the supervision of an experienced professional. Many trade schools incorporate some type of apprenticeship into their overall training program.

Professional certification should be pursued after completing your education and apprenticeship in order for you to advance further in this career. A professional certification from a recognized organization will assure prospective employers that your skills and knowledge are up-to-date with current standards. In the United States, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills offers a well-recognized professional certification for qualified candidates, and also offers several different specialty credentials for various achievement levels.

Consideration should also be given to learning computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining after you have become a manual machinist, as many manufacturers are replacing their manually-operated machinery with automated CNC equipment. It might be helpful to acquire these additional skills for future employment purposes. Some employers may be willing to pay the tuition costs for this additional training.

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      Man with hands on his hips