Take a minute to look around you. Almost every object you see – whether that be a computer, a car, or a coffee machine – contains parts that are created by a machinist.
Machinists work in manufacturing, setting up and operating a variety of machines (such as lathes and computer-controlled tools) to produce precision metal parts. They are some of the most essential professionals in the modern manufacturing industry, with one of the most dynamic day-to-day jobs. Much like sculptors or woodworkers, machinists use high-tech cutting machines to shape materials – metal, plastics, composites, even wood and ceramics – into something new and useful.
Becoming a machinist is no longer just a matter of muscle. Today, machinists must have great skill, creativity, and computer literacy, in addition to their strength. Employers are seeking machinists who can think on their feet, work well with others, and who have mastered their technique through hands-on training. Machinists should also know their way around the industry’s cutting-edge equipment.
If you are interested in becoming a machinist in Connecticut, know that the requirements will vary by employer and job title. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinists should have, at minimum, a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some employers will require machinists to have completed coursework beyond high school. Useful subjects for aspiring machinists to study include:
- Blueprint reading
- Manufacturing mathematics
- Technical drawing
- Design specifications
- Computer-aided machining
Many machinists learn through on-the-job training, however, not all employers provide it. Aspiring machinists who wish to work with high-tech, computer-aided equipment should consider more formal instruction before applying to a job. Specialized, CNC machining training is generally recommended.
CNC is short for Computer Numerical Control machining, a hi-tech process in which pre-programmed software controls the movement of production machines. CNC machinists operate these technologies, integrating mechanical design skills, technical skills, and math to create specific parts.
According to a recent survey, close to 90 percent of Connecticut manufacturers state that CNC machining is one of the most important and valued skills to their company today. Yet not all these employers offer training in CNC – they expect new hires to come already trained and certified. It’s no wonder about one-third of manufacturers in Connecticut have trouble hiring machinists today – especially those with knowledge of CNC.
In addition to knowledge of CNC and other advanced processes, what else should machinists know? The BLS suggests that machinists be experienced in “using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines” – the tools that modern machinists use, and that define the evolving machining industry. You see, manufacturing is no longer defined by heavy machinery and dark factory settings. Today, manufacturing is clean, lean, green, safe, and very high-tech – not to mention, machinists have one of the most cutting-edge jobs there.
Important Qualities in Becoming a Machinist
If you are interested in becoming a machinist, it is important to come equipped with the right skillsets. The qualities that employers are looking for in candidates, in addition to the knowledge areas listed above, include:
- Analytical skills.Machinists must have a good understanding of technical blueprints, models, and specifications to craft precision parts.
- Manual dexterity and concentration.Machinists’ work must be accurate – or else, the part may not fit the way it’s designed to. Some machining parts demand accuracy within .0001 of an inch.
- Math skills and computer application experience.As noted above, machinists must be experienced in using computers to work with industry software, CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines.
- Mechanical skills.Machinists must know how to operate milling machines, lathes, grinders, laser and water cutting machines, and other machine tools safely and effectively.
- Physical stamina.Machinists will often stand for extended periods of time, lift heavy materials, and perform repetitious movements.
- Technical skills.Machinists must know their way around computerized measuring machines and metalworking processes, including stock removal, chip control, heat treating and plating.
Become a Certified Machinist in Connecticut
In this day-and-age, where technology is driving the manufacturing industry forward, it’s recommended that aspiring machinists earn credentialing in CNC. A CNC machining school will prepare you to pursue the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credential as a CNC Operator or CNC certification.
Depending on your interests, goals, and commitment to machining, there are usually several options for training at the college level. For example, Goodwin College offers a few levels of CNC training programs: one at the associate degree level, certificate programs that can be completed in 2-3 semesters, and an accelerated program that can be completed in as few as 22.5 weeks.
The journey to becoming a machinist – specifically, a CNC machinist – is interactive, innovative, and very hands-on. CNC training in college will give you experience working with state-of-the-art milling and turning machines, industry-leading software, and the fundamental knowledge of manufacturing processes, materials, and technique. This isn’t a fall-asleep-at-your-desk kind of classroom. It’s an environment that will give you a taste of what the modern machining industry is all about.
To learn about becoming a machinist in Connecticut, or about the CNC operator school at Goodwin College, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call 800-889-3282 to learn more.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.