Why would anyone go into the Machining trade?
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  1. #1
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    Default Why would anyone go into the Machining trade?

    I'm in my second year of my apprenticeship and since I've started all I've heard is the shortage of skilled workers and how much money I'm going to be making if I stick with it. Why would any kid want to join this trade? Here lately I've been asking myself why I ever wanted to join the trade. I'm a smart guy, 27 on the act, 3.9 GPA in high school, had scholarships lined up at multiple schools, but chose to go for a trade. 2 years in, I'm seeing the reality. Why would anyone my age want to stand for 12-14 hours a day, working to close tolerances, for mediocre pay over going to college? No doubt about it, this is not an easy job, I wasn't expecting it to be. But when you're there for 12-14 hours and everything you make is needed yesterday, and you only make 13 dollars an hour while the shop rate is 139, college sure sounds like the better option. Every young guy that works with me is in his 20's and feels twice his age. How are we going to feel when were 50? Our shop does a lot of industrial repair and is a 24/7 shop so we get a lot of "hot" work which the customer needs ASAP. We also do a lot of huge stuff no one else wants to take in. So far I've been denied 2 raises, on account of me not making the company money. How can they claim that when they pay me 13 an hour and charge the customer 139? Anyway, my point is, what many who complain about the skill labor shortage don't realize is that until the pay for skilled labor is above the many other high paying easier jobs, there will always be a shortage. There are tons of other jobs that are easy to get that pay well and are less stressful, and less demanding.
    That's the end of my rant, what are your thoughts?
    What are some of the shop rates at the shops you guys work at?
    What fields did those of you go into that left the trade?

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    You don't need a new trade, you need a new job.

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    I agree with the new job part. I don't see any problems with the trade, it's even better when you have 8-10 years experience of machining and get your engineering degree.

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    You want a job that really sucks? I was an HVAC & plumbing contractor for 30 years. Dealing with the dumbest people on earth: home owners. Oh, and the most conniving bldg. contractors you can imagine. On the plus side, flashing a stack in the dead of winter on an icy 2 story roof. I miss that job like a sore dick! It's warm and toasty in my shop.

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    A lot of those kids that went to school dont have a job at all. Well, unless you count starbucks and applebees.

    And a mountain of debt.

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    Two things:

    Quit worryin' about "shop rate".

    Make yourself more valuable to the company........THAT'S how you get a raise.

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    If you like manufacturing, go back to school and get a mechanical or electrical engineering degree WHILE YOUR STILL YOUNG. Dont get a 2 year degree either, get a Bachelors. My 2 cents

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalltime View Post
    Two things:

    Quit worryin' about "shop rate".

    Make yourself more valuable to the company........THAT'S how you get a raise.
    What are some ways to make myself more valuable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevblev View Post
    What are some ways to make myself more valuable?
    Skills and being able to solve tough problems quickly!

    Do stuff where they can't AFFORD to not have you working there. Be the GO TO GUY!

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    " Originally posted by stevblev"

    Im in a predicament here.
    High School Info:
    3.9 GPA
    Advanced and College Credit courses
    27 on first and only ACT
    Had machine shop for 2 yrs, before it was moved, and loved it
    Senior Co-Op Student

    Work:
    Got a great opportunity at the best machine shop in Louisville last November, been working there as a Co-Op (sweeping floors, cleaning, etc.)
    I love the Company and the people i work with, they have great benefits, great retirement.
    Going to be in a 4 year Apprenticeship. I make great money (10 an hour right now) i got up to 12 in May with a raise every 6 months. Supposed to be at 21 at the end of 4 years.
    40 hours a week with overtime, go to school 1 day a week for 5 hours.
    Problem is, no one seems to like working there and i dont know why, they love the company, but dislike their job and say i should be an engineer instead of a machinist. I am a hands on type of guy and i like what i see in the shop, but im thinking about trying to go to JB Speed School for Mechanical Engineering. After my apprenticeship (21 an hour) im supposed to get a 5 percent raise a year.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? I dont know if i want to be a Machinist, or an Engineer. Should i go to school for Engineering while working nights at the shop as a Machinist?

    I just dont want to look back 10 years from now as a Journeyman Machinist and say "Damn, i wish i would have went to school to be an Engineer." If i do my apprenticeship and go to school at the same time, i can have the option to do either.

    the back up plan is the main reason i started wondering about getting a degree. Money is no problem at the shop i work at. if i go to their road crew, i can easily make 120k plus. we have some of the best benefits in the area, its a great place, but i think im going to do the degree, mainly for the respect. To put this in perspective, the President of the company FOUND me, he asked me to take a tour of his plant, and he asked me to work for the company. All because i showed initiative on going to college.

    Im very lucky to have gotten the opportunity i have. Everyone talks very highly of the company, and the president knows that his skilled tradesmen are the heartbeat of the company. His son is VP of Engineering, and he gave me his number so that he can tell me a little advice

    Anyone have anything to add?


    Stevblev. above is a post you made a year or so ago. you seem excited with your new job. Take a look at yourself and find out what has changed. It might just be time for you to get that Engineering degree. I can almost guarantee the company you are working for didn't change it's your perception that has. Don't worry about that shop rate , the company also has to pay for all that equipment , tooling, everyone's screw ups ect.
    Last edited by upnorth5axis; 12-21-2013 at 11:38 AM. Reason: mark who posted

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    I get it, you need more money for the same effort and same skills and same capital investment. It doesn't work that way. $13 x 14 hr = $182/day. $182 x 5/day/wk = $910/wk. $910/wk x 50 wk =$45,500/yr. This is close to the avg wage for attorneys with two years of experience. Lawyers do dull repetitive work. They deal with ungrateful employers, clients, and are subject to abuse and criticism. Their school costs in the tens or hundreds of thousands with no guarantee of return on dollar investment. Quit your crying and get back to work. Find out how people get rich and follow their example.

    If you want to be rich, get after it. Your dream will be rewarded if you are diligent and focus on what you want. So far your efforts have yielded $45,500/year. Money for nothing and your chicks for free is a lyric from a song.

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    the only thing thats worth adding here is that i have two engineering degrees and went to become a machinist. now there are tons of machinist that know their stuff way better than i do and there are tons of engineers that can recite tons of memorized equations. however there are very few that understand both sides of the spectrum. if you have both the mechanical hands on of machining, and the book smarts of engineering the world is at your feet. you can do whatever you want.

    also from what i can tell, in my few years on this planet. the idea guys are the ones who get paid and make money. it doesn't matter what industry your in, its the idea that sells and gives you something to sell. hence this is also where all the risk is. you're right, you're not going to make shit working for someone else. this is apparent to me after having a few different engineering jobs. you always want more and its not enough. my cousin is in the financial sector and the same thing applies there. he came up with an idea of how to juggle and make more money, and his boss really appreciated it and now he's heading his own division, of whatever he actually does. but he had the idea. i started my own shop because i had some ideas. some of the down right suck and i didn't make any money, some of the are good and i'm make a little money. still looking for that million dollar idea, but who isn't. morale of the story, your not going to get rich bitching about your job. you don't like it move on learn somehting new and have an idea and take some risk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevblev View Post
    What are some ways to make myself more valuable?
    If you can, Try to excel on a given machine, Like a lathe. Get GOOD on the thing. Be the guy who doesn't roll his eyes at a big/difficult project. Be the guy who LIKES those challenges.

    When you get good enough on that machine, ask to move on to the a mill, or the surface grinder. Make it a goal to be well versed on EVERY machine in the building.

    That's a valuable employee.

    And buy some GOOD Redwing shoes/boots......They make all the difference for those of us that stand all day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by upnorth5axis View Post
    " Originally posted by stevblev"

    Im in a predicament here.
    High School Info:
    3.9 GPA
    Advanced and College Credit courses
    27 on first and only ACT
    Had machine shop for 2 yrs, before it was moved, and loved it
    Senior Co-Op Student

    Work:
    Got a great opportunity at the best machine shop in Louisville last November, been working there as a Co-Op (sweeping floors, cleaning, etc.)
    I love the Company and the people i work with, they have great benefits, great retirement.
    Going to be in a 4 year Apprenticeship. I make great money (10 an hour right now) i got up to 12 in May with a raise every 6 months. Supposed to be at 21 at the end of 4 years.
    40 hours a week with overtime, go to school 1 day a week for 5 hours.
    Problem is, no one seems to like working there and i dont know why, they love the company, but dislike their job and say i should be an engineer instead of a machinist. I am a hands on type of guy and i like what i see in the shop, but im thinking about trying to go to JB Speed School for Mechanical Engineering. After my apprenticeship (21 an hour) im supposed to get a 5 percent raise a year.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? I dont know if i want to be a Machinist, or an Engineer. Should i go to school for Engineering while working nights at the shop as a Machinist?

    I just dont want to look back 10 years from now as a Journeyman Machinist and say "Damn, i wish i would have went to school to be an Engineer." If i do my apprenticeship and go to school at the same time, i can have the option to do either.

    the back up plan is the main reason i started wondering about getting a degree. Money is no problem at the shop i work at. if i go to their road crew, i can easily make 120k plus. we have some of the best benefits in the area, its a great place, but i think im going to do the degree, mainly for the respect. To put this in perspective, the President of the company FOUND me, he asked me to take a tour of his plant, and he asked me to work for the company. All because i showed initiative on going to college.

    Im very lucky to have gotten the opportunity i have. Everyone talks very highly of the company, and the president knows that his skilled tradesmen are the heartbeat of the company. His son is VP of Engineering, and he gave me his number so that he can tell me a little advice

    Anyone have anything to add?


    Stevblev. above is a post you made a year or so ago. you seem excited with your new job. Take a look at yourself and find out what has changed. It might just be time for you to get that Engineering degree. I can almost guarantee the company you are working for didn't change it's your perception that has. Don't worry about that shop rate , the company also has to pay for all that equipment , tooling, everyone's screw ups ect.
    You are right, my perception has changed. I posted that fresh out of high school pretty much, thought everything was going to be great. Now I'm thinking there's other ways to make the money i want to make without working 60-70 hour weeks and dealing with constant stress.

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    Let's manage expectations first. How much do you want to make now, in 5 and 10 years?

    Can you structure a program, pick tools, design tool paths and write code?

    Are you willing to learn? Can you teach yourself and/or be told only once how something is done and be able to do it and figure out what you missed?

    Are you able to troubleshoot problems? For example: Newly installed Bar feeder is vibrating. What do you check first?

    The most valuable people I've hired are absolutely worth every penny I can afford to give them. They do all these things and oftentimes better than even I can as the owner.

    The MOST valuable trait to me (in the shop) is the ability and willingness to learn fast. I don't care what you know as long as you are teachable.

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    there are no low stress high paying jobs it goes against the very nature of time and space. your efforts will be rewarded with what you put in based on how the universe values your contributions, not how you see them. if your busting your ass at work and don't get a raise chances are good that the boss doesn't value you like you value yourself. the only option is to move on or figure out what the problem is and fix it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalltime View Post
    If you can, Try to excel on a given machine, Like a lathe. Get GOOD on the thing. Be the guy who doesn't roll his eyes at a big/difficult project. Be the guy who LIKES those challenges.

    When you get good enough on that machine, ask to move on to the a mill, or the surface grinder. Make it a goal to be well versed on EVERY machine in the building.

    That's a valuable employee.

    And buy some GOOD Redwing shoes/boots......They make all the difference for those of us that stand all day.

    I'm pretty much our go to guy for our Mazak, I've been running it since early this year. I have asked to train on one of our Hurco cnc mills but they don't want to lose me on the Mazak, I'm putting more work through it than either guy on day shift and I'm one of only 5 people out of 200 that knows how to run it. I'm willing to tackle anything on the Mazak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobF View Post
    Let's manage expectations first. How much do you want to make now, in 5 and 10 years?

    Can you structure a program, pick tools, design tool paths and write code?

    Are you willing to learn? Can you teach yourself and/or be told only once how something is done and be able to do it and figure out what you missed?

    Are you able to troubleshoot problems? For example: Newly installed Bar feeder is vibrating. What do you check first?

    The most valuable people I've hired are absolutely worth every penny I can afford to give them. They do all these things and oftentimes better than even I can as the owner.

    The MOST valuable trait to me (in the shop) is the ability and willingness to learn fast. I don't care what you know as long as you are teachable.
    Now, my wage chart says I should be making at least 15.50. 5 years i would expect at least 24. 10 years id say 30+

    I don't run the Mazak as a button pusher. More then half the time, I'm receiving a broken part from the customer, measuring it, making a print, selecting tooling, writing the program, setting the machine up, and running the part. Just this week I was given a part from a customer (small intricate shaft with lots of groove work) and from there I inspected it, found the problem, measured everything, made a print, cut the stock, roughed out the stock, heat treated the roughed piece, selected my tooling, set up my machine, wrote the program, and finished machined the part. I work on my own with zero help from anyone, I get the job done the best way I know how and so far its worked for me. Very, very little production work going through my machine, most is one off custom parts or making parts to print spec or as per sample.

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    This is why I want to stay in this trade......after 2 years of Tech school for tool/die. I graduated with 0 debt and the beginnings of a career.
    My first job machining was for $6 / hour (1985).......I took a pay cut from the part time warehouse job I had during Tech school...lol. Over the following 5 years I worked at 3 different shops.....each time learning more, each move was for a pay raise and what I felt was a better opportunity. By then I was making $12/hr +..(1990?) and was 23 years old....most of the guys I was in high school with were just getting out of college.
    I wont bore you with all the details but after taking some additional courses at Tech schools, community college and classes offered when new equipment is purchased......I no longer stand at a machine every day.....I program them.....next big decision is whether to go to some solid works classes or go to school for an engineering degree ( I don't like trains though lol). I make more than most of the guys I know who went to college....yes I was on my feet doing manual labor for 20+ years ......yes my pay was low at the start.....It is called paying your dues. No one starts at top $......you have to WORK your way there every day....every shift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevblev View Post
    Now, my wage chart says I should be making at least 15.50. 5 years i would expect at least 24. 10 years id say 30+

    I don't run the Mazak as a button pusher. More then half the time, I'm receiving a broken part from the customer, measuring it, making a print, selecting tooling, writing the program, setting the machine up, and running the part. Just this week I was given a part from a customer (small intricate shaft with lots of groove work) and from there I inspected it, found the problem, measured everything, made a print, cut the stock, roughed out the stock, heat treated the roughed piece, selected my tooling, set up my machine, wrote the program, and finished machined the part. I work on my own with zero help from anyone, I get the job done the best way I know how and so far its worked for me. Very, very little production work going through my machine, most is one off custom parts or making parts to print spec or as per sample.
    If you truly do all that on your own and are being denied a raise from $13/hr it is time to look for a new job plain & simple.


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