Would I be a good candidate for a machinist apprenticeship?
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  1. #1
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    Default Would I be a good candidate for a machinist apprenticeship?

    I've been eyeing a machinist apprenticeship in the city I just relocated to (closer to family), and I think I would be a pretty good candidate. My long term goal is to be an ME in a larger shop environment, and I'm currently taking classes toward that end. I have two years experience in fabrication at a shop back home doing an informal apprenticeship, and I spent a year in Alaska in plant maintenance. I think I have a pretty solid framework in fabrication and how that fits into the needs of various operational environments. I prefer the shop environment, and was encouraged by some of the machinists in my old shop to pursue an apprenticeship in that trade.

    Just wondering what the expectation is for incoming apprentices. Is it ok that I'm wanting to expand and refine my skills as opposed to starting from scratch? Does my experience in other technical fields help or hinder me?

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    Any experience in a shop/fabricating environment is a help but be prepared to change your methods/habits when presented with better methods/habits. The first order of priority is safety, this should be considered as the first and last reason for anything you do regardless of what you may have learned to do before. What helped me to learn the trade was the purchase and study of Machinery's Handbook. It's dry reading, lots of seemingly uninteresting numbers and equations, but it's the reference for tool relief angles, material properties, standards, and most other things you'll encounter for manual machining. My copy is the 20th edition and does not have "G" code for CNC work, don't know if newer editions contain this but you'll eventually need to know this as well. What you'll need to know will depend upon the type of work you want to specialize in. Stamping dies require different skill sets than molds, different than production CNC work, than prototype R&D work, than machine tool building, than etc. If you have a chance to enter a formal apprenticeship it will help you more than just working your way through the menial, repetitive, button pushing jobs that are typical of entry level jobs. This is not to disparage entry level work, it in itself is quite instructional, but they can resemble indentured servitude. Take whatever jobs you can find for the experience, learn them, and move on when the time comes. You'll need to invest in tooling/instruments for shops that do not supply measuring equipment although many shop supplied instruments are somewhat battered (why I bought my own). It may also help to find a grouchy old man in a shop and try to learn from him, I learned more than a few things from grouchy old men. Your lack of experience should not be considered a hindrance, everybody here had to start somewhere. Good luck, there's a wealth of information on this site from the members so stop here often.

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    "..was encouraged by some of the machinists in my old shop to pursue an apprenticeship in that trade."

    That answers your question right there. People who work with you telling you that you have the makings for the job.

    If they are the typical cantankerous, cynical hardasses I have known and become, all the more so for their endorsement.

    Leave your ego in the car, ears and eyes open. Learning and studying does not stop at quitting time.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AD Design View Post
    Any experience in a shop/fabricating environment is a help but be prepared to change your methods/habits when presented with better methods/habits. The first order of priority is safety, this should be considered as the first and last reason for anything you do regardless of what you may have learned to do before. What helped me to learn the trade was the purchase and study of Machinery's Handbook. It's dry reading, lots of seemingly uninteresting numbers and equations, but it's the reference for tool relief angles, material properties, standards, and most other things you'll encounter for manual machining. My copy is the 20th edition and does not have "G" code for CNC work, don't know if newer editions contain this but you'll eventually need to know this as well. What you'll need to know will depend upon the type of work you want to specialize in. Stamping dies require different skill sets than molds, different than production CNC work, than prototype R&D work, than machine tool building, than etc. If you have a chance to enter a formal apprenticeship it will help you more than just working your way through the menial, repetitive, button pushing jobs that are typical of entry level jobs. This is not to disparage entry level work, it in itself is quite instructional, but they can resemble indentured servitude. Take whatever jobs you can find for the experience, learn them, and move on when the time comes. You'll need to invest in tooling/instruments for shops that do not supply measuring equipment although many shop supplied instruments are somewhat battered (why I bought my own). It may also help to find a grouchy old man in a shop and try to learn from him, I learned more than a few things from grouchy old men. Your lack of experience should not be considered a hindrance, everybody here had to start somewhere. Good luck, there's a wealth of information on this site from the members so stop here often.
    I have the machinery’s handbook, albeit a very old edition. I’ve skimmed through it and read several of the sections in depth. I learned a lot about steels I did not know. Great book. Thank you for your reply. I’m putting in my application. Just hope they are in a position to take me on! Look forward to learning this trade


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