Considering career as a machinist
Close
Login to Your Account
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 84
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Maryland
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    2

    Default Considering career as a machinist

    Hi all,

    I'm 17 years old, almost done with high school, and thinking about future career possibilities. I'm currently working as a small engine mechanic, so I work with metal on a daily basis. I'm decently handy with an angle grinder and MIG welder, basic stuff like that. A while ago I was working on a personal project and needed a custom part that would have required a lathe, I never finished the project, but I did develop a bit of a fascination with machining. Being a mechanic is fun, but at first glance being a machinist looks even better. Aside from general input, I do have a few questions.

    • Can I expect to start working more or less immediately in at least some capacity? Or will I need a more than a few months of training.
    • Will being under 18 be a serious barrier to entry?
    • Are there a reasonable number of small companies to work for? My previous experience with working for larger entities has been fairly negative.


    Thanks for any input

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Davidson NC USA
    Posts
    1,478
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    559
    Likes (Received)
    893

    Default

    A year or two at a community college will widen your horizons and improve your options for work in the future. Employers large and small are looking for employees with knowledge, aptitude, and attitude. Just a suggestion for school, take a basic welding course as soon as you can. There is a HUGE body of knowledge around the mechanical trades. Learn all you can. Good Luck

  3. Likes Mcgyver, Casady Machine liked this post
  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,509
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    1040
    Likes (Received)
    4236

    Default

    I believe in most locales being under 18 will keep you from legally working in a manufacturing environment. I started working in a sheet metal shop at 16, but I lied about my age. I even showed the office lady my driver's license, she just wanted to confirm my address for tax purposes and ignored my birth year of 1961 making me 16 in the year 1977. These days you can't do that, you get carded for buying smokes if you don't look 35. A career in machining isn't what it used to be, wages did not keep up with inflation. The best way to financial success in machining is opening your own shop, and or developing and selling your own product. Working for the man and trying to climb the company ladder these days is a tough row to hoe.

    That being said learning is a lot easier now as it was in my day, you have the internet, forums like this one and You Tube. The best way to learn is hands on. We do live in a very litigious society these days, people are afraid of being sued if you hurt yourself in their shop. Even so, I am sure there are many a small operator that would be willing to pay you and teach you off the books. Back in the day, through the years, I employed 3 under 18 guys from friends and family to work in my shop. List your exact location, you could find someone in here to learn from. I wish there was an ambitious teenage young man in my neck of the woods. I don't have a need for a full time helper, but I could often use a hand here and there. Too bad you don't live in Beaverdam Va.

  5. Likes Chazsani liked this post
  6. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,550
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    230
    Likes (Received)
    1370

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    I believe in most locales being under 18 will keep you from legally working in a manufacturing environment. I started working in a sheet metal shop at 16, but I lied about my age. I even showed the office lady my driver's license, she just wanted to confirm my address for tax purposes and ignored my birth year of 1961 making me 16 in the year 1977. These days you can't do that, you get carded for buying smokes if you don't look 35. A career in machining isn't what it used to be, wages did not keep up with inflation. The best way to financial success in machining is opening your own shop, and or developing and selling your own product. Working for the man and trying to climb the company ladder these days is a tough row to hoe.

    That being said learning is a lot easier now as it was in my day, you have the internet, forums like this one and You Tube. The best way to learn is hands on. We do live in a very litigious society these days, people are afraid of being sued if you hurt yourself in their shop. Even so, I am sure there are many a small operator that would be willing to pay you and teach you off the books. Back in the day, through the years, I employed 3 under 18 guys from friends and family to work in my shop. List your exact location, you could find someone in here to learn from. I wish there was an ambitious teenage young man in my neck of the woods. I don't have a need for a full time helper, but I could often use a hand here and there. Too bad you don't live in Beaverdam Va.
    I have to disagree with the wages thing...sure starting out wages will be sub 20/hour but after some years and a few job changes 30+/hour is not far fetched. And then there's overtime...it adds up quickly.

    I get job requests from head hunters weekly and see 25+ regularly.

    Working this Friday(8 hours) and Sunday (7 hours)ill clear somewhere around 900 bucks on top of the 36 hours I worked mon-thurs. If I worked Saturday too it would be closer to 1400 clear but who wants to work every day.

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,141
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    3517
    Likes (Received)
    2682

    Default

    Doubt you could get much work in a shop at 17yo. I started when i was 16 in a neighbors garage shop (under the radar...1983ish) Manufacturing has been good to me. for some owning their own shop is the way to go....big upside potential to it....equally big down side potential. There are some decent wages to be had....gotta keep working at it and keep yourself relevant. I would try to advise you to not get "stuck" on machining.....look at it as manufacturing.....thats one of the things i like about starting in machining...there are many other possibilities within manufacturing that can arise if you keep looking for more.

  8. Likes plastikdreams liked this post
  9. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Republic of Texas
    Posts
    2,607
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I had 15 and 16 year old kids sent to me by the high school back in '78-'79. Two of them stayed with me for 3 years. Went on to pretty damn good machining jobs, doing things that I would have hesitated on. I have one now that has been here since he was 16. He will turn 43 end of this month.

  10. Likes toolsteel, MetalCarnage, ratbldr427 liked this post
  11. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Michigan
    Posts
    11,995
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    4060
    Likes (Received)
    4291

    Default

    Likely it will be hard to find a tool job at 17 .and hard to find any job as few are listed on craigslist. Your best chance is to go out knocking on doors and have a decent story. I want to start with moping the bathrooms and work my way up to master machinist. I can do exactly as I am told and I wont waste ant time on my cell phone or wasting time. I will be here every day on time ready to go to work….and be that guy.

  12. Likes Ox liked this post
  13. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Flushing/Flint, Michigan
    Posts
    8,963
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    483
    Likes (Received)
    7379

    Default

    Not sure your state laws.
    In Michigan you can not operate a machine tool at 17 unless on a co-op program or working in your family owned business.
    You can come in as a maintenance guy or do things like hand deburring, inspection or packaging.
    This not a bad way in.
    Bob

  14. Likes toolsteel liked this post
  15. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Texas
    Posts
    2,531
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    2060
    Likes (Received)
    1125

    Default

    If you enjoy building stuff AND don't mind a little monotony, Machining can be an excellent rewarding career. It's one where the more you know, the better you will do, but that doesn't necessarily mean getting college credit will make you desirable. You can start out pushing buttons and as long as all your parts come out correctly, you'll do well. From there, learn set-up and trouble shoot operations, learn a bit of design and engineering basics, all stuff to make you more independent and able to get positive work done fast.

    I have a co-worker who got out of a 2 year tech school program 5 years ago and he's now our go-to machinist and is even teaching a couple other guys. He does well because he enjoys the work, and is humble about his ability while also avoiding messing around.

    Might also help to narrow down the field of what you want to do. I think some guys get into machining cause they like being creative, but they end up pushing a button building 1000's of the same thing and it burns them out. Some guys excel at dealing with all the annoying fickle manual work that comes through a shop like one-off parts, broken taps, and real mind blowing problems, while other guys do better at the million part job. Some guys only want to work on +/- .00005 tolerances, others just like running the machines.

  16. Likes dsjansen, MetalCarnage liked this post
  17. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,509
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    1040
    Likes (Received)
    4236

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    I have to disagree with the wages thing...sure starting out wages will be sub 20/hour but after some years and a few job changes 30+/hour is not far fetched. And then there's overtime...it adds up quickly.

    I get job requests from head hunters weekly and see 25+ regularly.

    Working this Friday(8 hours) and Sunday (7 hours)ill clear somewhere around 900 bucks on top of the 36 hours I worked mon-thurs. If I worked Saturday too it would be closer to 1400 clear but who wants to work every day.
    I have no idea how old you are and how long you have been in the trade. I started working for the man in an apprenticeship program in 1979 and was paid $5.85 an hour, and that was out in the sticks where the cost of living was low. My last job working for the man was in 1994 in the high rent district of Orange County Ca. Where I was paid $28.12 an hour. Both those jobs were non union. Throwing those numbers in an inflation calculator in today's dollars I started as an apprentice for $20.66 and finished up at $48.65 an hour. That would be in non union shops.
    Anyone who thinks machinist wages have keep up with inflation flunked math, plane and simple.

  18. Likes boosted, rbregn, macds, Mike1974 liked this post
  19. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Missoula Mt
    Posts
    429
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    15
    Likes (Received)
    165

    Default

    If you are real good at math, have a well controlled mind for detail, dont mind overtime, but keep in mind 99.9% right is a total failure...Phil

  20. Likes kustomizer, SND, jancollc liked this post
  21. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Idaho
    Posts
    1,660
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    296
    Likes (Received)
    614

    Default

    Is there a JC with machining classes near you?

  22. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    California
    Posts
    578
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    8
    Likes (Received)
    195

    Default

    I would strongly urge you to get a college degree (engineering if you have the inclinations) if at all possible, even if you do it part-time while continuing to work....just opens up many additional opportunities as you learn what you like doing career wise.

  23. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, New Hampshire
    Posts
    9,589
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    2249
    Likes (Received)
    6644

    Default

    First off, you write very well for a young person, and that's a big help in making a good first impression (and sorry if that sounds patronizing, but many kids are stuck in "text-speak").

    If you like mechanics and machining, perhaps you could look into machine repair. There's a huge need for truly competent repairmen, and if you don't mind (or especially, love) travel you could be all over the country fixing machines, setting up robotic cells, training, etc.

    With the right company, wages will be significantly higher than most machining jobs, too.

    I would also check out engineering fields, unless you're really eager to get out of the school environment. Even so, keep your eyes open with mechanical and electronic engineering subjects, there is NO downside to knowing more, and it can really help when understanding aspects of machining or repair.

    Good luck, and keep reading this forum, it's a great resource. And let us know what you wind up doing!

  24. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Country
    SWITZERLAND
    Posts
    1,037
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    125
    Likes (Received)
    426

    Default

    You are right that being a mechanic is fun, or rather a joy. You are wrong with being a machinist, that is not fun. Do avoid to take jobs with houses full of CNC equipment, you will only be an appendix to the machines. I am 58½ years now and until six weeks ago have had to work under a 55 years old boss who has no idea of CAM. The fool has TopSolid installed on computers but all programs are typed by hand. Since I was on social welfare I was forced to sign the contract. Wage was fine but money can’t buy me satisfaction. All the worse, if you see ways to make parts ten times faster than you have to do.

  25. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,550
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    230
    Likes (Received)
    1370

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    I have no idea how old you are and how long you have been in the trade. I started working for the man in an apprenticeship program in 1979 and was paid $5.85 an hour, and that was out in the sticks where the cost of living was low. My last job working for the man was in 1994 in the high rent district of Orange County Ca. Where I was paid $28.12 an hour. Both those jobs were non union. Throwing those numbers in an inflation calculator in today's dollars I started as an apprentice for $20.66 and finished up at $48.65 an hour. That would be in non union shops.
    Anyone who thinks machinist wages have keep up with inflation flunked math, plane and simple.
    Late 30s got my first job as a CNC button pusher in 2010. How far your wage goes is very much dependant on where you live. Here in the socialist republic of New Jersey 25 an hour makes it but you won't be getting ahead unless you are really smart with your money, which is totally possible. Now somewhere like south Carolina 25 an hour is going to go way farther. Degrees are fine and dandy, but if you want to make it in this field you need to have the aptitude and ability.

  26. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Maryland
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    2

    Default

    Thanks for all the input so far. Until recently (around the start of the pandemic) I was dual enrolled at community college working on a degree in mathematics. I decided I didn't want anything to do with colleges after the exam proctoring scandal. Which is actually what led to my working as a mechanic. So it's unlikely I'd go back.

    To whomever asked for my location, I'm less than 10 minutes away from Bel Air.

    I'd really like to know how to get my feet wet as it were, I've literally never seen a lathe or mill (beyond toy sizes) outside of youtube videos. How do I get at least a tiny bit of hands on experience before looking for a job?

  27. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, New Hampshire
    Posts
    9,589
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    2249
    Likes (Received)
    6644

    Default

    If you were doing well on the Math degree path, then I hope you'll reconsider (at some point) not wanting to pursue formal education.

    As to experience with tools, look for a "Maker Space" in your area that offers tutoring in use of the equipment (which needs to include cutting tools, not just an array of 3D printers).

    Or network within your family and acquaintances to find out if anyone has a home shop who'd be willing to do some training, perhaps in exchange for some work around the house or an oil change on their car.

    Heck, bite the bullet and look for a junior college or equivalent that offers shop training.

  28. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    783
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    151
    Likes (Received)
    266

    Default

    Nice to hear there's at least one Gen Z'er interested in this! You are choosing a potentially very good career path. I have just one thing to add: don't let the age thing mess with you! When I was your age (when newspapers were around a lot more), I used to read "Dear Abby" (it's now her daughter doing this gig online). One guy wrote in, he was about 40, and wanted to become a doctor. His main issue was, "Dang, I'll be 50 when I'm finally a doctor, I'll be so old! Is that worth it?", given all the education, internship, etc.

    Here's Abby's reply: "How old will you be at 50 if you DON'T become a doctor!?".

    Don't worry about the age thing (not to imply that you are, but just in case it's an issue), actually don't "worry" about anything (again, hopefully you're not). Just concentrate on doing what you like and you'll get there. And don't fret about making career changes at some point, those can only make you better.

    Good luck and take care!
    The Dude

  29. Likes charlie gary liked this post
  30. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    Oregon
    Posts
    434
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    78
    Likes (Received)
    256

    Default

    Most machinists make well below the median pay for their regions. I am always amazed by the people who work in this field and think the wages are okay. It always feels like they need to convince themselves...

    Personally I would run from manufacturing at any level. Margins are low, pay is not great, and conditions usually suck compared to a lot of other fields.

    I am in my mid thirties, and have considered starting over many times. However, I own a shop, I do enjoy making things, and am pretty damn good at it. You can do well in this trade, it's just hard, and you better be really into it.

  31. Likes rbregn liked this post

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •