A machinist sets up and operates a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments.

Are you skilled with tools and repair work? Interested in working with large machines in an exciting environment? As a machinist, you’ll occupy a skilled position on the production floor, operating complex machinery as part of a larger manufacturing system.

Machinists work with more advanced equipment than machine operators, so you’ll need to have some previous experience on an assembly line or working with mechanical tools and machines. Your job will be to start, run, and stop the machine in accordance with engineer-designed technical drawings, always checking to make sure the machine is functioning properly. You’ll change the settings on the machine if necessary and read data from gauges and screens. If the machine malfunctions, you’ll know exactly how to fix it.

In addition, you’ll examine the work pieces that come off of the machine using measurements and visual cues. If a product appears defective, you’ll report it and modify your equipment to fix the problem. You may need to perform physically difficult tasks like securing additional parts onto the machine or loading raw materials into it.

Becoming a machinist requires previous experience, and many companies look for formal training and certifications on a resume. Look for programs that offer hands-on experience to really impress potential employers.

Also Known As:

Precision Machinist, Gear Machinist

“I decided to become a machinist because I love to work with my hands and make tangible things. My father was a machinist and I remember being in awe seeing the parts he would make out of piece of metal.” -Kyle Hughes, Barber-Nichols Inc.

Critical Skills


  • Dimension/Tolerance Calculation
  • Machine Monitoring and Control
  • Mathematics
  • Monitor Specifications
  • Operational Condition Maintenance
  • Precise Alignment
  • Production and Processing


  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Communication - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking/Oral
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Operation and Control
  • Problem Solving
  • Quality Assurance
  • Repairing
  • Teamwork
  • Troubleshooting
  • Working with Technology

Key Responsibilities

  • Calculate dimensions or tolerances
  • Machine parts to specifications using machine tools
  • Set up, adjust, or operate basic or specialized machine tools
  •  Align and secure attachments and materials onto machines
  • Measure, examine, or test completed units to check for defects
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines during the machining process
  • Maintain machine tools in proper condition
  • Study sample parts, visuals, or engineering information to determine production methods and sequences
  • Operate equipment to verify operational efficiency
  • Check work pieces to ensure that they are properly lubricated or cooled                                               

Special Requirements

  • Heavy Lifting Ability


  • Aerospace
  • Engine Repair
  • Fabrication
  • Oil/Gas Rigs
  • Wind Energy

How to get this job

Gain small engine repair certificate software and hardware knowledge.

Next Steps for this job

Experience in engine repair, customer service, demonstrate communication skills.

Specific job titles and duties vary by employer so check for details.