what skills are most valued in the industry today
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  1. #1
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    Default what skills are most valued in the industry today

    (if this post isn't in the correct forum please alert me and I'll move it, or what ever is required)

    I'm 21 and have been working at my first job shop for almost a year now, I'm getting to a point where a few opurtunities are opening up to me, that will hopefully provide me with a new location to work and will offer up alot more opportunities for growth and learning.

    While I'm happy for this im still unsure exactly which skills I should be focused on. I understand there is setup and programming for Mills, lathes, grinding and swiss lathes. but I don't know if these are the skills I should focus on this early in my career, or if there are just some things I should simply avoid entirely that'll pidgeon hole me into something so niche I'm just plain screwed, or if there's something else just as critical that'll secure me a future as a machinist for years to come.

    I'd really prefer to work with manual bridgeports but I'm being told they are almost all but phased out by some and then by others that learning a Bridgeport is one of the best things you can do.

    I'd like to be pointed in a direction that'll lead me to working with manuals doing onesies twosies or atleast in something that isn't purely production, I'm open to CNC aswell even tho is not preffered as I can't deny that they are the cutting edge tech and will most likely be the position that's most secure and profitable in 10 years time. I'm fine taking a hit to income if it means I'm getting good skills that'll last me the 40+ years I hope I get on this planet.

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    If you're like many of us, those fellows who say "get a job in a different field" won't even register on your radar because you love making things and working with your hands. So if that's the case, learning to use manual machines can be a plus, as it's much easier to get a feel for how much the tooling and machines can take in terms of pushing them hard since you can feel the pressure on the handles yourself.

    If that's something that you would like to pursue, then your best bet is probably to find a job shop that does a lot of one-off and repair work. I wouldn't limit yourself to a shop with just manual Bridgeports though. Look for a place that has as wide a variety of machines as possible. You may not get to run them at first but you'll get the opportunity later if you prove yourself to be a diligent and competent worker.

    All that said, the CNC world is fast catching up in terms of much more rapid programming. If you get a good base skill set as a machinist and learn to run a variety of machine tools, it would absolutely be a good idea to go in that direction eventually. They are getting to the point that they can compete on onesie-twosie and even repair work with a competent programmer/operator.

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    To be a machinist in the world of CNC-<everything>, probably the most important non-traditional skill to add is some computer programming.

    By this. I do not mean just G-code, although that's what is most commonly used to program CNC machines. I mean a general programming language, like C/C++ (the full enchilada) or something like Python or Java. Understanding any of these languages will make G-code and the like easy.

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    The will and ability to constantly learn and improve yourself is a quality that is very valuable as is taking pride in your work, even if you're a button pusher making 1,000 parts a day.

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    Willingness to work for $2/hr ...

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    I'm biased, but if you get the opportunity to learn swiss, do it. It's a niche, sure, but that means if you get good at it, you will be in high demand. Everything you learn in a Swiss applies to basically all other aspects of machining, so you can move around pretty easily as necessary.

    Definitely learn as much manual machining as you have the opportunity to, but don't let that limit you, unless you luck into a union position with Delta or similar, you likely won't land a cushy manual job.

    The more you learn, the more you earn.

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    85% Showing up on time.

    10% Paying attention.

    5% Willingness to do the difficult task; continually rise to your personal level of incompetence [aka: Learning]

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    CNC work is a mix is lower skill to high skill. pay rate reflects that
    .
    many places do not need many manual machinist and many do not pay much like <$20./hr
    .
    obviously if running a mulimillion dollar CNC, machining parts that cost $1,000. to $50,000. most places pay enough to keep competent workers. finding people to hire and training for particular machines and making particular parts can literally take years and the pay rate reflects that.
    .
    literally many CNC operators are making $70,000 to over $100,000 / yr with overtime and benefits, but obviously some making $15/hr might only make $31,200/yr
    .
    usually 10x more cnc jobs than manual machinist jobs but both have quite a range in pay. not everybody making low or high pay. depends where you work and what you are doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    ... I mean a general programming language, like C/C++ (the full enchilada) or something like Python or Java. Understanding any of these languages will make G-code and the like easy.
    While all in favor of expanding your knowledge I do not see how being a C++ wiz or being able to read a x86 hex dump helps in a job as a machinist.
    Python even seems high, some other low level like Basic maybe if you are going to write macros (perhaps the ability to program in the very old versions of Basic actually fit this task better)
    CNC programming is not computer programming. It is a sequence of movement commands with weird shortcut codes for names.

    Most start on a mill or a lathe, the jump is confusing at first. At some point you get that ah-ha moment in X-Y-Z and how they are the same just one is sitting on its side.
    Then there are different controls and flavors and oh-my grinders.
    The more machines you can get time on the better.

    Bob
    (Joe, by the way, FORTH is a great programming language. Maybe one of the best ever for system control...... Those with a history will understand this comment.)

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    cnc programming varies depending on particular machines. sure read the 1000's of pages of the machine manuals for the particular machines you run
    .
    also learn to use Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel and Word, some high schools teach this but not all. almost all technical jobs require ability to read and write work instructions or procedures.
    .
    some kids are good at playing computer games but often have poor ability at using a computer for doing actual office stuff.

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    I'm only 24 and have also been working for an industrial manufacturer. Though I work in marketing. My advice is that any skill set is something that you are constantly learning from. Everyday you should work and develop a set of skills that you believe will help you in the long run. Any skill or craft you should try to learn everything that you can. Soak it up like a sponge. That way if someone asks if you know how to do XYZ you can most definitely say yes.

    Focus on skills that YOU believe are important whether its learning more about production or even learning new things here are there from each department. Take it one a thing at a time if you are wanting to learn a multitude of skill sets.

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    sometimes you are not given opportunity to learn different things where you work or things you want to learn
    .
    thats why i took night school classes at a local college and it helped me find a slightly different job 6 years after i took the cnc classes. often college classes in a real classroom you talk to other students and teachers and "network". you learn about other companies and jobs in the area. literally had teacher in class ask students if anybody needed a cnc programming job that he had info on.

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    Show up on time, do something while you are there, and study hard to pass your drug test. This will get you past 90 percent of your competition. As far as specialization, find your gift, and do what you are gifted in. It will show, if you are under the right people. It took me 20 years, no, 30 years to learn how to get under the right people. Bosses, and customers who believe in you, and the gift in you, are much more important and rare than learning what it takes to run this machine, or make that part. Such information is available in books,
    manuals, and online when you need it. Pitty the person who has no one who believes in him, when he needs him.

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    Don't listen to Tom...

    Or listen to him once, and then skip his future posts... Despite his count of 10K posts, he really has only posted the same 10 things 1K times each.

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    in my opinion too many trying to sell stuff.
    .
    i have seen this world wide the salesman talk trying to convince someone they need to buy something
    1) to get a job,
    2) get ahead in a job,
    3) keep up with the competition, be one of the best, etc
    .
    you want to get ahead in a job. usually better to ask a old timer (fellow worker) for some job advice. its usually free and they are not going to be trying to sell you stuff (normally its free advice)

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    No matter what path you choose to follow, learn to weld. Stick, TIG, wire, braze, solder, learn it all, or as much as you can. Any career in metal technology will benefit from this skill. It lends automatic credit in many situations. Just my observation over the years.

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    As someone who learned welding about 10 years into their career, being able to add metal back when you remove too much can save a lot of heartache if it is an allowable option. Also being able to weld stuff saves a lot of time and effort over drilling, tapping, and bolting stuff together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sealark37 View Post
    No matter what path you choose to follow, learn to weld. Stick, TIG, wire, braze, solder, learn it all, or as much as you can. Any career in metal technology will benefit from this skill. It lends automatic credit in many situations. Just my observation over the years.
    .
    i learned to weld 100x faster by asking a welder to show me how. literally he would show me how, then i did with him watching, then talking and showing what i needed to do better showing how. and it was free. didnt require buying anything
    .
    hard to describe. but obviously in a shop where no welding is being done or only one welder obviously not much need to learn welding if thats not your job or needed for your job. so learning to weld depends on where you work and if its in demand to learn welding

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    read job postings like found on Craigslist. it will show what jobs are in demand and what the employer is looking for.
    craigslist: buffalo, NY jobs, apartments, for sale, services, community, and events
    .
    for example i cannot remember anybody hiring a machinist asking if they could write computer programs and it is very rare to ask if you can weld. more likely to ask if you can read or write cnc programs and read and create Microsoft Powerpoint and Excel files that often work instructions are created on.
    .
    really job postings often go into a lot of detail listing on a whole page on what they are looking for
    .
    and its free

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    Maybe the ability to think your way through a problem using the tools you have at hand.

    Probably make more running a hotdog cart.

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