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    Default Breaking into Machinist market as beginner

    Too long, don't want to read:
    I am looking to become a machinist. I have some basic hand tools, but barely any experience outside of a high school shop class, and a full time job I can't quit. I can do nights/weekends if that is what it takes. My local area does not offer any good vocational schools that I could find, and the cost of living is high and work ethic in general in Miami is extremely poor. I want to move up north but would like to do that with a trade I can live off of. What do you suggest? I am about to just find a list of all the machine shops in my area, and email each one asking if I can work nights, and weekends sweeping floors or whatever, in exchange for getting experience.

    Toilet time version:
    I am 26, male, not married, with a mediocre job. I don't like my job, but it is steady, and easy, if a tad annoying because of dealing with lazy people. I have a degree in computer networking. I have always been into making stuff, took all 6 woodworking and machine shop classes in high school as well as an autocad class, and mechanical drawing. I would like to learn machining. I can do the basics, at least I could in high school. I built a 3D printer from scratch, not a kit but actual pieces, modeled it out in fusion360. Working on building a CNC milling machine, I have the frame done but I am having trouble finding a spindle within my budget that will be rigid enough to let me to cut metal. I have been reading a lot of posts on this forum and get the feeling that a lot of machinist jobs are actually just people doing assembly line automation, or button pushers. I don't want a job like that. I wouldnt mind as an entry level, but not forever. I am extremely good at problem solving, and I want to put that to use. The job I am in now is basically a button pushing job, and looking at my coworkers, mostly older people who have either given up on life or are about to retire with a shitty pension, I don't want to become that. I live in Miami, where for what I am paying for a 2 bedroom apartment I could have a 3 bedroom house with a yard and garage in most other parts of the country. I moved here a couple of years ago. Luckily I live with my girlfriend, who honestly may as well be my wife a long as we have been together, and we split the bills. Otherwise I would never be able to afford to work on projects like I have been. I am willing to work for free in exchange for experience. I don't care if it is sweeping floors and emptying chip bins, or whatever it takes. Another concern that i have is my area doesn't have a particular high amount of people I would call 'masters' working here. Especially in my field, people who have been doing it their whole lives that I would have thought have a wealth of knowledge and tips I could exploit, turn out to barely know more than I do. The work ethic here seems to be, enough to get by is good enough, and I don't like that. My dad was an electrician, a master electrician, and he seemed to know everything about the trade. He knew the NEII (i think thats what its called) hand book in and out and always had a solution for problems. I was an apprentice for a year working with him before I started college. I was born/raised in Texas, and went to high school/college in Colorado. I was always told to strive to become the best, and that doing enough to just get by isn't enough. I am sort of realizing that I need to find a career before I get too old. Computer networking is fine, but I just chose that because I had to choose something. I did learn a lot of very useful skills like programming, and a general wealth of knowledge on computers that I use almost every day to fix problems, but I am not passionate about it like I am about making stuff, particularly out of metal. I have been doing it as a hobby for a while and am sure it is the career path I want to take, shame it took me this long to realize that.

    My questions to you; how do I break in to the career with no formal training or school?

    Once getting my foot in door, how do I learn? I am assuming it depends on companies training policy. I don't know if unions exist for this type of occupation, I assume they do, but Unions in south florida are pretty weak.

    If anybody knows of reputable companies in Miami area I would love to know their company name, they are first ones I will be calling.

    Just to clarify, when I say I want to be a machinist, I mean I want to learn how to program CNC machines(mill, lathe, EDM, water jet), run manual machines like lathes, mills, all of that. If I go to a good company being able to do all of that well, I think I have a pretty good chance of getting hired.

    Any advice is appreciated, even if its rude. I don't know jack about the trade but I am willing to learn.

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    TL;I didn’t Read: You have a mediocre job and you want to become a machinist? Talk about a lateral move.

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    Don't be discouraged. If you have a passion for a vocation, money will take care of itself. I am about to retire from welding/fabricating after 40+ years, I've always loved to build machines. Operating mills, lathes, cutting equipment is just a means to an end, don't obsess about those tools. People pay me good money to solve their mechanical problems, there is more work out there than I can ever complete. It is simple, if you can solve their problems, whether it is a broken A.C. unit, ruptured pipeline, rebarrel a rifle,or weld a broken truck frame, they will be happy to pay you if you can solve their problem. Find a business that does work that interests you, tell them you want to prove yourself, work cheap for a short time. It is hard to find good workers in any business, you can make yourself valuable. The whole point of a successful business is solving problems of people who have the money to pay you. Look up Mike Rowe.

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    Never confuse your career with your hobby. . . . .ever! You work for money and play for fun. The quickest way to ruin a perfectly good hobby is to make it a profession. I'm an engineer and have been my whole life. The best you can do is earn a living. Engineers never get rich and most find even making a decent wage a struggle. Even if you elect to being a hobby machinist, it takes a lot of money for your machines and tooling. That money must come from your earned income and of that, your disposable portion. My point is simple, do not place the cart in front of the horse.

    If you elect to become a service provider of any kind, the best you can do is sell 40 hours a week and a bit more, that's it, there is no more. If you want to make serious money, you have to sell other peoples services and 10% the action, because the product depth is infinite. All you have to do to verify this is to look around. The evidence is in your face.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Mech View Post
    TL;I didn’t Read: You have a mediocre job and you want to become a machinist? Talk about a lateral move.
    Hmmm I dunno aboot that eh

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    Hmmm I dunno aboot that eh
    Maybe the guy you quoted is an average machinist making average wages?/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    Maybe the guy you quoted is an average machinist making average wages?/
    I’m not a machinist- that decision was made long ago. “Average” wage for a machinist in this country is little more than the poverty line. The gentleman above mentioned being an engineer and never getting rich. That being the case, a machinist’s salary doesn’t come close to an engineer’s, so draw your own conclusion. But tell us more about you being a super-machinist and making bank.

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    The machinists who work for me make more than the engineers.

    All you machinists working at the poverty line PM me please. We pay 6 figures for those who can program and set up. And our corporate chef will make you breakfast and lunch every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Mech View Post
    I’m not a machinist- that decision was made long ago. “Average” wage for a machinist in this country is little more than the poverty line. The gentleman above mentioned being an engineer and never getting rich. That being the case, a machinist’s salary doesn’t come close to an engineer’s, so draw your own conclusion. But tell us more about you being a super-machinist and making bank.
    I am not arguing that average (take that how you will) machinist wages are crap. But I never said me. I know I make good money for what I do. Made even better money 2 jobs ago, and got paid to travel to the other side of the world "as a machinist"

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    How far would you be willing to commute? I can name a company that would take you in with zero experience, and train you up as a button pusher. You'd have to work hard to become more than a button pusher, but you'd get the baseline experience while getting higher than average pay, full benefits (including 401k w/ match, free insurance, free lunch every day, free gym membership, and more), and working in a new, clean, top of the line facility with all new machines. It'd be a drive, but there's lots of people living in Miami and working there.

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    Here's what I can tell you, and hopefully it will help you. You're 26 years old, and you're here, asking for guidance, because you want to improve yourself. That is an awesome start, and more than what I've seen from most in your age group. I have run my own very successful business for 29 years, and learned how to do by running someone else's very successful business before that. I caught a break at a very young age because a wealthy and successful guy saw something in me that was lacking in most of his other employee's.....DRIVE.

    Do not let other people's negative bullshit get in the way of your goals. This forum is a great place to gleam information about machining, but you have to wade through 10 tons of absolute horseshit and negativity to learn who the forum members here are actually going to take the time and help you. You have to IGNORE all the other negative posters here, because they are stuck neck deep in their own misery, and their negative attitudes will never allow them to become as successful as they want to be. Automatically, that makes them believe that success if a fairy tale. I'm here to tell you that life gives back what you put into it, and the sooner you can block out all the negative BS, and focus on your goals, and doing whatever is necessary to achieve them, then you will be well on your way, regardless of your age.

    Negative people are rarely successful at anything, because they lack the discipline to improve themselves, and they lack the drive to do what it takes to haul themselves out of the river of negative BS they have waded into. Avoid them at all costs, and you will be well on your way.

    Pep talk over, and I will state again that is is great that you put yourself "out there" and asked for guidance. Hopefully, a few of the successful machinists here will help you out with wise words of advise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    Never confuse your career with your hobby. . . . .ever! You work for money and play for fun. The quickest way to ruin a perfectly good hobby is to make it a profession. I'm an engineer and have been my whole life. The best you can do is earn a living. Engineers never get rich and most find even making a decent wage a struggle. Even if you elect to being a hobby machinist, it takes a lot of money for your machines and tooling. That money must come from your earned income and of that, your disposable portion. My point is simple, do not place the cart in front of the horse.

    If you elect to become a service provider of any kind, the best you can do is sell 40 hours a week and a bit more, that's it, there is no more. If you want to make serious money, you have to sell other peoples services and 10% the action, because the product depth is infinite. All you have to do to verify this is to look around. The evidence is in your face.
    Sorry, gotta throw the flag on this one

    Starting salary for an engineer most places around the country (definition used: Bachelor's degree in an engineering field) is higher than median earnings for the country. Salary 10 years in averages somewhere around the median FAMILY income. Also, saying "engineers never get rich" is also not true, because it's common for engineers to take this thing they have called "marketable skills" and turn that into a functional business.

    To the OP, my old man has a saying he's fond of. "Money follows passion. If you are chasing money, you will always be chasing it. If you follow your passion, you will find money along the way." Do something that drives you to be your best, constantly seek improvement for improvement's sake, and you will find yourself in a stable position. Sounds like you've gotten a couple leads already here, so best of luck to you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Auto View Post
    The machinists who work for me make more than the engineers.

    All you machinists working at the poverty line PM me please. We pay 6 figures for those who can program and set up. And our corporate chef will make you breakfast and lunch every day.
    That's fantastic- I can do both and far more, have more BS to deal with at the day job which would make the move to PA worth it for that type of work. With the understanding that may not be able to divulge too much, which industry do you mainly serve? Great opportunity there.

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    Any advice is appreciated
    Regardless of what you want to call yourself, if it involves making stuff from metal using machine tools you should consider becoming fluent in CONCEPTS - and they can be found in abundance in the practical pubs now quite ancient.

    Of course it requires actually reading and understanding - I don't know if that is gone out of style yet or not

    A few

    http://vintagemachinery.org/pubs/1617/5795.pdf

    A treatise on milling and milling machines .. : Cincinnati Milling Machine Company : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

    American Machinist Grinding Book: Modern Machines and Appliances, Methods ... - Fred Herbert Colvin, Frank Arthur Stanley - Google Books

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    Thank you all to everybody that posted, it helped me quite a bit. It gave me a lot to think about. I definitely thought about the making my hobby a job problem, but that is a risk I am willing to take. I am passionate about building things, and learning this trade will only make that easier. There will always be new things to build, just never enough time.



    @johnoder, thank you for the links! I printed off the first one already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkfan9 View Post
    Here's what I can tell you, and hopefully it will help you. You're 26 years old, and you're here, asking for guidance, because you want to improve yourself. That is an awesome start, and more than what I've seen from most in your age group. I have run my own very successful business for 29 years, and learned how to do by running someone else's very successful business before that. I caught a break at a very young age because a wealthy and successful guy saw something in me that was lacking in most of his other employee's.....DRIVE.

    Do not let other people's negative bullshit get in the way of your goals. This forum is a great place to gleam information about machining, but you have to wade through 10 tons of absolute horseshit and negativity to learn who the forum members here are actually going to take the time and help you. You have to IGNORE all the other negative posters here, because they are stuck neck deep in their own misery, and their negative attitudes will never allow them to become as successful as they want to be. Automatically, that makes them believe that success if a fairy tale. I'm here to tell you that life gives back what you put into it, and the sooner you can block out all the negative BS, and focus on your goals, and doing whatever is necessary to achieve them, then you will be well on your way, regardless of your age.

    Negative people are rarely successful at anything, because they lack the discipline to improve themselves, and they lack the drive to do what it takes to haul themselves out of the river of negative BS they have waded into. Avoid them at all costs, and you will be well on your way.

    Pep talk over, and I will state again that is is great that you put yourself "out there" and asked for guidance. Hopefully, a few of the successful machinists here will help you out with wise words of advise.
    Wow, I think you're full of shit. You have automatically assumed all negative advice comes from unsuccessful people. Without knowing anything about the individual responder simply makes you truly stupid. Negative advice is very valuable because it just may prevent a bad career decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    Wow, I think you're full of shit. You have automatically assumed all negative advice comes from unsuccessful people. Without knowing anything about the individual responder simply makes you truly stupid. Negative advice is very valuable because it just may prevent a bad career decision.
    Haha ya what I was thinking. The guy quoted may very well have gotten lucky and has no clue.

    I caught a break at a very young age because a wealthy and successful guy saw something in me that was lacking in most of his other employee's.....DRIVE.

    OR, alternatively, you GOT LUCKY.

    I am not arguing against being a go-getter and all that, but some people just get lucky, no two ways about that. Matter of fact, I know a girl/woman that preaches this same thing (go get'um and all), but FACT- she was in car accident and got a settlement, which allowed her to "start her business". Not saying she was lucky with the car accident, just from the money standpoint.

    Anywho, I know I am a good machinist/programmer (25+ years in the trade working with others), not saying I am the best, or the fastest, just *good*. I know people who have made more money than me their entire lives because -

    a) got lucky
    b) knew someone
    c) dated the boss's daughter
    d) etc

    Just a fact of life, oh well... I'm sure someone who was dealt a 4 card suite for a royal flush and then drew that card needed will come and tell me I am FOS! haha

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I am not arguing against being a go-getter and all that, but some people just get lucky, no two ways about that.
    "I'm a great believer in luck, I find the harder I work the more I have of it" So true. Attributed to various sources, I always think of it as a Stephen Leacock line
    Last edited by Mcgyver; 08-29-2019 at 07:17 AM.

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    I'm pretty sure I got to where I am because of being lucky and good...basically I'm good to be lucky and lucky I'm good.

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    I am about to just find a list of all the machine shops in my area, and email each one asking if I can work nights,
    An e-mail is really easy to piss away and ignore.. A FACE to FACE, at least will get you an acknowlegement. They still don't HAVE to talk to you, but they are more likely to talk to you, since you just happen to be standing right there...

    If you sent me an e-mail, I'd probably ignore it. If you showed up on my doorstep and told me what you want, and why you want it.. And then asked if I was hiring.. different story. I may still tell you NO..

    BUT!! BUT!!!!

    You are standing there, and you have a desire, and you aren't a jerk, And I may know a shop or 5 that may need somebody..

    E-mail is an awesome tool. But the written word doesn't go nearly as far as a face to face. If you aren't comfortable about what to say or what to do, or are just "uncomfortable".. Ask. And the tips will flow forth.

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