15 Pros and Cons of Being a Machinist

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Also referred to as a millwright, a machinist is a manual skill.

Working as a machinist leads to tools and products made from milling and drilling.

In this occupation, individuals operate machinery to create new items or to cast tools. 

Not quite a metalworker, woodworker, or blacksmith, a machinist physically handles machinery.

This equipment transforms metals and other hard materials for many manufacturers, ranging from automobiles to computer companies.

See if this is a good job for you, or if you should leave the machinist for Christian Bale.

Pros of Being a Machinist

1. Trades are Good Job Skills to Hone

If you are skilled in a trade that is worth money in the industrial sector, you will have plenty of job opportunities.

Machinists who are good at what they do and are in demand are going to be able to ask top dollar for their time. 

This can lead to great trade and income for someone who is trying to earn a living.

The better you become at being a machinist, the more valued your expertise–and the more money you stand to make.

2. “The Machinist”

Once you get hired as a machinist, you can easily explain to your friends and family that you are like Christian Bale.

You know, that guy who gets really skinny when he plays the machinist in “The Machinist.” 

Instantly, you will likely get strange looks, but you will also be better understood as a worker.

Of course, your job setting will be different in many ways from the movie production set of this movie.

But the overall vibe of working with hard steel and dangerous machines will seal the deal for your new job status.

3. Salary for Machinists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for a machinist was $47,730 in 2021.

This is about $23 an hour and can be improved upon with experience and advanced skills.

Learning how to become a machinist does not require certification or licensing, and you do not have to go to college for a machinist degree.

Therefore, there is a limited barrier to entry and you will not spend years paying back college loans for a degree in machinist technology.

You can start earning and saving, rather than repaying when you enter the job market.

4. You Train in a Skill

Learning how to be a machinist involves making high-precision tools and instruments using sophisticated metalworking technology.

You have to be trained to be good at this job.

This takes time and once you are a machinist, you are always a machinist.

The skill of a machinist goes with you on your resume, which is important to remember even if you change occupations later on.

5. No College Degree

Unlike pilots or doctors, you do not have to get a four-year or master’s degree in order to become a machinist.

This is a trade position that involves technical training and hands-on skills.

If you flunk out of college, you still have the chance of becoming a machinist.

Keep in mind, if you fail college because you are a tad lazy, that streak won’t fly for your work as a machinist. 

6. Building Items Using Your Hands

The job of a machinist is all about making products from start to finish.

This includes building models and prototypes, as well as parts and entire pieces of equipment.

If you enjoy working with machines to build items using your hands, the occupation of machinist may be a perfect match. 

7. Working With Computers

As a machinist, about 25 percent of your projects require the use of a computer.

Computer software and technology, such as 3D plastic printers, are needed to create most products.

You are required to use CAD or computer-aided design software, or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. 

These computer programs provide a visual image of an encoded design that is used to manufacture products.

Individuals with computer skills, CAD experience, or love for working with computers will appreciate the software aspect of being a machinist. 

Cons of Being a Machinist

1. “The Machinist”

Along with requiring sophisticated training and experience, machinists are also sometimes concerned about being confused with “The Machinist.”

This is a psychologically challenging movie that is more about personal demons. 

However, the main character is also a machinist working throughout the film.

If you are not a fan of Christian Bale, well, this is going to be a tough time for you around the water cooler.

Because there will be Bale jokes if you are a machinist. 

2. Occupational Hazards

The work of a machinist entails heavy machines that grind up metal.

Your fingers are no match, to say the least.

There are occupational hazards that go with this job, such as filing metal. 

3. Working in Dangerous Conditions

The machine shop where metalworking and heavy machinery are used is a dangerous place to work.

However, that is the place where machinists bring their ideas or products to life.

Through the use of metal vices, drills, and saws, a sheet of metal becomes fencing or a retro counter trim. 

When working with these types of tools and metal, there is an increased potential of becoming injured on the job.

Money reports the job of an industrial machinist is among the top 10 most deadly in the world.

Workers can be crushed by equipment or when moving heavy objects.

The machines used for this occupation often skip or jump, moving enough to hit or crush humans.

4. Long On-the-Job Training

The job of a machinist requires long on-the-job training, stated the BLS.

You will become an apprentice while in a trade or technical post-secondary school.

This apprenticeship is similar to an internship or externship.

However, as a machinist, you can expect to spend a lot longer in on-the-job training or job shadowing.

Apprenticing takes years until you are capable of working on your own.

5. Physically Exhausting Occupation

The typical day of a machinist is up and standing, mostly in a workshop.

The flooring is never soft enough to handle the load, and work involves holding heavy objects.

As a result, machinists are quickly exhausted, as the movie “The Machinist” suggests.

Employees for machinery companies must be physically fit enough to handle the load or they become hazards to themselves and those around them.

6. Stressful Job Days

Working with heavy equipment that could possibly slip out of place and crush your hand is just part of the day for a machinist.

Talk about stress!

This is difficult to deal with and yet it is how workshops are for machinists who are building with machinery. 

Therefore, you need to have patience and self-reliance, as well as be able to pace yourself, so you are not overstressed on the workshop floor.

If you are stress-prone, a machinist might cause you to have a higher blood pressure than is healthy for you.

7. Must Work in Manufacturing

Are you anti-factory?

Do you scorn manufacturers and distributors?

This might be an issue if you are going to train as a machinist.

That’s because machinists are hired primarily by manufacturers and you may even work in a factory.

Understanding where you will be hired in the future can help you decide if you want to train for that job, i.e., a machinist, today.

8. Not a Lot of Growth

Once you are trained well enough to work as a professional machinist, you are ready to be hired.

You will naturally improve your basic machinist skills, but otherwise, there is little room for growth.

Advanced-level machinists, master machinists, managers, and supervisors are about the only jobs where you can do when working in this field.

If you want to have plenty of room to expand opportunities in the future, the role of a machinist might be too short-sighted. 

Pros and Cons of Being a Machinist – Summary Table

Pros of Being a MachinistCons of Being a Machinist
1.Trades are Good Job Skills to Hone1. “The Machinist”
2. “The Machinist”2. Occupational Hazards
3. Salary for Machinists3. Working in Dangerous Conditions
4. You Train in a Skill4. Long On-the-Job Training
5. No College Degree5. Physically Exhausting Occupation
6. Building Items Using Your Hands6. Stressful Job Days
7. Working With Computers7. Must Work in Manufacturing
8. Not a Lot of Growth

Should You Become a Machinist?

Adults who are good at working with their hands and have excellent vision and reflexes may be good machinists.

This occupation also involves working with metals, such as steel and iron, and can be challenging physically and mentally.

Trying to stretch and bend metal is dangerous, as well, which is an increased risk associated with machinist jobs. 

However, the result is a hand-crafted item, whether it is a tool or a custom work of art, that is formed out of metal.

Machinists are responsible for these types of products, and they must have some creative talent to be able to fabricate items.

Envisioning items and then producing them using heavy machinery is a rewarding reason for becoming a machinist.

Also, the pay is nearly $50,000 on average, which means you can expect to earn a decent living doing this job.

If you can handle the challenges and are ready for the heft of the workload, your career as a machinist offers plenty of benefits.

Along with places to work as a machinist in every US state, there are perks like being able to create industrial metalwork from scratch.

The job of a machinist could be good for someone who is generally creative, likes to work independently, and can perform metalwork.

You will also need to be experienced with computer skills, as computer technology and software are used to generate designs and plans for products.

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Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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