Machinists: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

Machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments. Includes precision instrument makers who fabricate, modify, or repair mechanical instruments. May also fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or maintain industrial machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, mathematics, metal properties, layout, and machining procedures.

  • Calculate dimensions or tolerances, using instruments such as micrometers or vernier calipers.
  • Machine parts to specifications, using machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, shapers, or grinders.
  • Set up, adjust, or operate basic or specialized machine tools used to perform precision machining operations.
  • Align and secure holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, or materials onto machines.
Read more about what does a Machinist really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$45250 per year

Average hourly wage
$22 per hour

Machinists with little to no experience tend to make between $27050 and $34130 while the more experienced ones can earn over $54830 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
HI $32 $66,840
AK $31 $64,220
DC $30 $62,950
DE $27 $55,210
NM $26 $53,930

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Machinist is to move to a higher paying state like HI. Right now, the highest paying states for Machinists are HI, AK, DC, DE and NM.

However, a higher pay at HI doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at HI might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Machinist is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
High School Diploma (or GED)

We asked other Machinists what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Post-Secondary Certificate followed by a High School Diploma.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Machine Tool Technology/Machinist
Machine Shop Technology/Assistant
Read more about how to become a Machinist and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Machinist.

Suitable for people who likes practical and hands-on work
Suitable for people who wants to work in a supportive work environment
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Demand for this career is growing fast
Not suitable for people who likes to help and teach others
Salary is below average

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

65% of Machinists said they were satisfied with their job and 47% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Builders and The Organizers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery..

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Learn more about Machinists

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