View Full Version : What to Do (Look for new job?)

03-17-2005, 09:52 PM
Hello! I'm currently a 2nd year toolmaker apprentice. (not tool and die maker... up in canada the have a new course for just toolmaker) I work in a shop that does primarily Aluminum Checking fixtures. But.. i'm debating wether to look for something else, or stay wehre i am. I really can't decide. There are a lot of good things about my current job, but i'm beginning to get bored and don't feel i'm learning all i can be.

The good points about the job are great... pay when i'm done apprenticeing is good (anywhere from 21 - 28$/hour), air conditioned shop, Own work bench with granite table, very clean, good atmosphere, most of the people are great to work with, overtime is availible and optional... they expect you to work overtime, and i like it as it gets extra money, and they don't expect like 60 hour minimum week (48 hours is waht wi generally work), it's usually lax ans low pressure environment, and supervisers don't jump on people for talking to others for a minute here or there. Noone steals tools etc.

BUT... i'm beginning to feel very very bored. It seems every job is squaring up some aluminum blocks (actually i don't get to even do that too often, usually my fixtures are blocked up for me already).. and i make some steel pins (4 ways, 2 ways, oblongs, go/nogo's) out of 01 steel, usually always between 3/8's dia, to 3/4's dia, with the odd bigger one over an inch thrown in there. And make small steel plates out of 1/8 flat ground stock. As well as putting bushing holes in etc. Anyone who's doen checking fixtures i guess will know what is involved fully. But basically it is 80% the same for every fixture and the odd time there's something new and interseting.

I've never had to square a block on a grinder to 0002 at my job (as it's all aluminum)... NEVer cut threads... never cut tapers... never do offsets.. never do a lot of things onthe lathe for that matter :P. i don't get much experience with different steels, exept turning 01 on the lathe, and even then, the dia size is aprox the same always.. i don't learn how to do precise things on the lathe, as it's generally just for roughing out for grinding, so +/- whatever you feel like... occasionally yes there is steel work done, but not a lot.

Most of the things i do are never really TOO accurate, save pins, wich have to be ground to +/- .01 mm (.00039 thou), which is a breeze for me now. I rarely use trig for setups... don't do precise lathe work... don't machine many different materials besides aluminum and 01 steel, and basically run bridgeport mills and grinders and the lathe... nothing bigger.

I recently went for a tour of a die shop... and the work itself LOOKS more interesting.. like htey ahd a radial drill there that was MASSIVE... and other mills that were huge... but really is it more so than checking fixtures? I don't know... it could be the exact same thing... once ou know the basic hings 80% of it is repeated and only really 20% is new every job. Plus the atmosphere and work environment doesn't look quite as nice.. thats a real keeper for me at my current job. But i relaly feel i'm not learning enough... or maybe i'm just thinking hte grass is greener on the other side, which is a huge possibility. I don't want to risk losing my current job, as i'm signed as an apprentice and guaranteed (pretty much) consitant work and good pay and a good atmosphere... but.. i don't feel i'm learning enough and am getting bored of the mundane routine of it. I feel right now htat there is soo much more that icould be learning that i am not. Personally i'd rather be working with different steels more often (all steels machine different).. turning different dia's of steel on the lathe (turning a 1" dia piece 2" long, is a lot different setup/process than turning a 5" dia pice 24 inch long for instance)... getting praticed and TAUGHT how to machine bigger things to close tolerences..

The upside is yes, the work itself could get more interesting... BUT... the people could be horrible, the hours could be horrible, the pressure could be horrible, the pay could be worse... etc. Theres so many thing sthat could be worse.

So what would you reccomend? Stay, or look for something else?

Also if i did stay where i am for 6 or 7 years and say went to a die shop.. yes i'd be a licensed toolmaker... but would they still be very ope nto teaching me and showing me things as i had never built a die? (i'd be a quick learner in that case... but i'm assuming they woudln't throw a die at me and say build it!... but htey also wouldn't offer me top $ either i know).

(sorry this was so long! )

[This message has been edited by Derek13 (edited 03-17-2005).]

03-17-2005, 10:10 PM
Only one thing matters at this stage and that is finishing your apprenticeship. Once that is out of the way you must go where your brain tells you to get the widest experience possible in your field.The next four years become your own apprentice ship scheme. Dont forget to include a good level of accounting in that. In the long run you have to eat.
Once you get that extra experience your old firm will more than likely welcome you back with open arms and a better pay check than if you had stayed. You will also know that you can do any job.
Best of luck,but make your own.
Regards Bobby.

03-17-2005, 10:16 PM
great poing bobby.

just my concern is if i wait untill i'm done my apprenticeship, won't a new shop expect more from me than if i am still an apprentice? (ie they'd be more willing to teach me if i' mstill an apprenticE)

[This message has been edited by Derek13 (edited 03-17-2005).]

03-17-2005, 10:17 PM
It's a tough call, walk away from good money and into the "unknown". The boredom can be a killer and the lack of growth in your chosen profession is not good. You didn't mention if you had your own shop. If you're tooled up enough you can learn alot just by doing projects for your self. Square up that steel block to within .0002 in your basement for your own project! As for the boredom at work, you could work just 40 hrs and take in work at home.

Just some ideas that may help strike a balance in your life, hope they help.
Best of luck,

03-17-2005, 10:59 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">air conditioned shop, Own work bench with granite table, very clean, good atmosphere, most of the people are great to work with, overtime is availible and optional... they expect you to work overtime, and i like it as it gets extra money, and they don't expect like 60 hour minimum week (48 hours is waht wi generally work), it's usually lax ans low pressure environment, and supervisers don't jump on people for talking to others for a minute here or there. No one steals tools etc.</font>

Geez! You've died and gone to heaven!

03-17-2005, 11:13 PM
Forgot to add:
The cream always floats to the top. I look for people that WANT to work. That is, the one's that ASK for more work or responsibility. The guys that are satisfied with a set load are seldom qualified to advance.

otto luck
03-17-2005, 11:35 PM
The most important task is to get your card. Every shop specializes in one way or another, there is no one shop that does it all!. An employer does look for experience within there work realm, but more importantly, an employee that has a good work history and is honest. Tell them what your experience is, be honest, they will sense if your right for the job!. After your thru with the Toolmaker appren., find a shop to add a year on to it and get the Die part of it in!. Thats how I did it!, but I did'ent care for Die work, so I keep that part quiet!. Go Or The Card---

03-17-2005, 11:40 PM
I'll start with a question. The lack of different work, is it because there is none of the other types of work done there at all? Or are your employers not putting it your way? There should be a scope of reference for your toolmakers apprenticeship. Have you talked to your supervisor about this? Here in New Zaland there is usually a list of things that an apprentice must achive to a competant level and the employer has to make sure that these things have been done. This is a good scheme as it means an apprentice should end up being fairy well rounded in most aspects of the trade they apprenitced too. If this is not happening I would be concerned.
It would be a pitty if they can't give you the variety you require as they seem to do very well an most other area's as an employer. If they can't give you different work I would see if they will allow you to do some projects of your own that will fill this need. After all they did agree to train you. Another aproach would be along the lines egpace discribed, start acumulating your own workshop and choosing projects that you find challenging. I guess I agree with Bobby that finishing your apprenticeship should remain high on your priority. Your current employer seems to be getting most things right, you just need to find a way around the lack of variety and boredom issue. I think it is worth trying to improve the current situation before jumping ship. Belive me there are employers out there that don't get anything right, then it is time to jump.


03-17-2005, 11:46 PM
Agree with you on both posts CCWKen.


03-18-2005, 12:01 AM
All good advice there Derek.

If I may add; Look to yourself and HONESTLY analyse your attitude and work ethic; then look to your employer, are they providing all the training and to the level required to turn out a good tradesman.
When you believe that you have the answers to the above and some questions of your own then approach your employers and discuss your concerns openly and without rancour.
You may be surprised.

cheers, ken

03-18-2005, 12:03 AM
Finish your apprenticeship! If you think you'll learn all there is to know in your apprenticeship, you're wrong. You will just scratch the surface (pardon the pun). Once you complete your apprenticeship and obtain your ticket, nobody can take it away from you. You can go on learning and developing new skills, and always have the ticket to open new doors for new jobs. I agree with CCWKEN. Employers want people that want to learn and aren't afraid to say "I don't know, but I'll find out". I worked with an old Professor that said "It's most important to know what you don't know". There will always be something you don't know. IMHO, working with good people is worth it's weight in gold. Finish your ticket. Then keep finding out what you don't know.

03-18-2005, 12:24 AM
You are in a good position,so make it better. Look around the shop and see if you can find a bit of kit,that the shop needs but hasnt got. theres stacks of things in the THSM for projects.
Get materials from the scrap box and make it for the shop on the shop machines in break times. This way you can ditch your mistakes,get practise on those materials and jobs that work does not provide and earn a few browny points on the way. Your boss will notice. In olden times you had to do this anyway. even if you only get a boot in the rear you will be noticed and you can get your point of view heard.
Best of luck.

Smoking Crater
03-18-2005, 01:40 AM
I would stay with it if I were you. Learn/Practice new or different operations on your own machines at home and document your achievements. If opportunities present themselves you will have an inside track for them. I'm a little biased, as I just lost my job. Whatever you do, do it AFTER your apprenticeship is completed.

03-18-2005, 03:07 AM
Get your card and tell your employer you want to move to another department. Don't
quit your present job until you find another.
I quit my job awhile ago because I knew job
cuts are coming in August and I wanted to get a jump on things before all the other
people who will be getting the axe are on the street too.
Be prepared for some harsh lessons in job hunting,i.e.( reduction in salary, no certificate/diploma no job and my favorite,
"yes, we see that you have the proper credentials, experince and qaulifications
but we can't hire a white guy, we have to be fair you know").
The best I can say is to tell a potential employer the you are a minority, ex-felon,
slightly retarded and have thoughts about becoming a woman and wish to donate half your check to world peace, you should have
job in no time. good luck.

03-18-2005, 03:13 AM
As a young man staying two years per job location can only benefit you. Each shop has differant types of work. The tool and die industry has changed a bunch. Old school verses new school the die guys call it. No longer everything form ground ect. Now its cnc and edm. Now the toolmaker must make everything fit properly. That is where a lot of knowledge and skill comes in. I have been in a die shop for a year and a bit. I thought I was a decent machinist. Compared to lots of guys in our shop I am a slowpoke. Im amazed how fast they do things. Im steady and a nose to the grindstone type of worker. I am getting a lot faster but i still suck compared to the top tool and die guys in our shop. Very high skill level. You getting into a die shop can only benefit you. Changing jobs every 2 to 3 years is good I feel in the pursuit of machining knowledge. Good Luck.Madman (Mike)

Your Old Dog
03-18-2005, 07:27 AM
You should always be looking to better yourself. However, when you're in the stream of life just don't jump till you have another stone to head for! I find it keeps the employer a little humble. Find a new job, turn in your notice and then you'll get to kick it around with the boss and sometimes promotions come of that ! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif You could actually end up with the job you want if it actually exist at your plant. But you had better mean what you say once you tip your hand. Not a good idea to bluff as you might find yourself swimming like hell just to keep your head above water.

Advice given to me by a Supervisor over 30 years ago. "Don't chase the buck while looking for a career. If you got the passion the money will come." Theres a lot of dirt poor Phd's out there and a lot of wealthy high school grads with passion. Hope that makes sense to you.

Good luck, nice to see a young man with ambition. My guess is you ain't got your face pierced with a lot of nails and such. (PC: not that there's anything wrong with boring holes thru your body. We do it in steel, why not ourselves right?) http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

[This message has been edited by Your Old Dog (edited 03-18-2005).]

03-18-2005, 08:42 AM
"As long as you are willing to learn there will be someone willing to teach" told to me by an 85 year old machinist.

I would stick it out until your finished and making $$$$,then put together a full blown shop at home.Reason I say this is you sound a lot like me,a person who really wants his own business.

03-18-2005, 09:41 AM
You have a lot of good advice here in this thread Derek. These gents have been in the same situation as you. I might be able to give you some thoughts from a different angle.

I will give away a little of what I do and pass a thought along. I am a Manufacturing Engineer that also manages a tool room. I don’t know everything, but the group that works for me comprises a huge quantity of experience and information. (Very similar to this BBS) Working as a team is how we get the job done. This is what makes our shop work well.

I don’t know your superior or how the company operates, but I will say this; I appreciate it when one of the associates working in our group approaches me and lets me in on some information that they have been bored or things are a little too plain. It gives me a chance to move things around and mix it up a little bit. I get in a rhythm as well and many times I will give similar jobs to the same guy without thinking.

When the associates that I supervise approach me with this type of information it helps me do my job better and I feel comfortable about decisions that I make or things that I need to say in big meetings with the top management. When these lines of communication don’t exist, things start falling apart and I get uncomfortable. I feel like I have to pull double duty, hawk over all of the work being done and I know that the fellows that I work with dont appreciate it when I pace the floor waiting on the work to finish.

Now remember, there are boring jobs that need done in every shop. That’s just how it is. Also, you are in training. You are bound to get a lot of the basics, but this is a good thing. The basics create the foundation to build the other information and experience on. (bla bla bla, all of the same stuff you have heard before http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif )

In the end, think about this a bit. Your supervisor is there to remove obstacles for you. That is to say, he/she should have your next job ready or be watching ahead to make sure there is the correct material available for your job, etc. Next, have a good talking relationship with your boss; this will make him feel comfortable with you at work. And I can’t begin to tell you how this effects how I manage. When I’m comfortable with an associate, I know that I can assign them the work at hand, and it will get done.

Don’t bring complaints to your boss without solutions. When someone approaches me with a complaint and a solution, I know that they are thinking and not just complaining. Much easier to work together and solve the problem quickly. Again, this will make your boss feel comfortable with you. In turn, this can help you in your quest for more of a challenge.

On leaving a current job, something I have noticed in talking with other supervisors in different companies, don’t quit your job until you have a job lined up. For multiple reasons, some mentioned in this thread previously. Mainly, I find that other employers look harder at people without jobs than at those whom are currently employed and looking for better employment. Seeing as though I have to interview, I was curious about this and asked about the reasoning. I was told that if a fellow is not working, it could imply that he is unemployable due to attitude, working ability or some other thing that an employer can’t control or fix. More than just one person has relayed this to me. Three different friends in similar situations have noted this to me.

Lastly, if an employee approaches me with the information that he or she is leaving, it gives me a chance to make their current job work better for them. Giving me a chance to make a change is better than dropping the bomb on me and just leaving. Remember that bit above about your manager removing obstacles for you? There have been a few times that I could not make the situation better due to pay freezes or the employee really getting a good deal somewhere different; and at that point, good for them. They have tried to make their life better and I can’t complain about a fellow that does this.

Hope this helps you a bit. Big decisions take time to make. Keep thinking about it and don’t burn bridges, you might get a good opportunity to return. And it does sound like a good place to work.

03-18-2005, 10:26 AM
Why not just ask your present employer for more work/opportunities?

Ken put it well about people asking to do more. Your company is investing in you. Asking for more opportunities is showing you respect that investment.

Have a heart-to-heart with your supervisor. Make it clear to him that you are interested in learning new things and increasing your value to the company. The word value should be in italics.

Remember, everyone hires for the same job, no matter what it is; from surgeon to ditch digger. You are a problem solver. People are paid for the "programming between their ears." You sound like you want to increase your tool chest of knowledge and experience and that is very important to becoming a competent problem solver.

Showing a genuine interest toward self-improvement and your worth to your company goes a long way. If you present a convincing argument to your supervisor that you are ready to take on new challenges, chances are you will get what you ask for.

If you don’t get what you ask for, politely ask why and what you must first do to get to that point. Listen to his feedback and consider things that you may be weak at and corrective actions. Work with your supervisor to map out a clear set of steps and goals to get where you want to be. Make each step small enough to realize, but not so easy as to not challenge you. Once both you and your supervisor have a road map for your development it will be much easier to see and realize progress, step by step.

Here are a few points (in order of importance) to consider as attributes that an employer considers golden:

1) Willingness: A will to do the job and grow toward new challenges. Ask for new responsibilities when you have fulfilled your present ones.

2) Manageability: A supervisor’s worst nightmare is an employee that can’t be managed or burns up excessive amounts of their time to stay on task.

3) Teamwork: You must be able to work well with others and generate a positive work environment.

4) Dependability: The ability to align to the companies goals and share the company’s values, then execute those goals and values in a consistent way. Integrity.

5) Skill: Skill is the last thing on the list! Surprised? I would rather have someone that scores very high on items 1 through 4 with no or little skill than some cantankerous soul with all the knowledge in the world but is unwilling, unmanageable, undependable, and unpleasant to work with.

Hope this helps give you some perspective. I would start by working with the company you have as much as you can. If you find that they can not fulfill your needs, and then start looking around for someplace that can, but don’t jump ship until you are absolutely sure that you have a better environment to go to. I doubt that you have to do that!

Let us know how it goes and good luck!


Sprague M
03-18-2005, 12:19 PM
What everyone has said. Plus, as an employer, before I look deep into qualifications. I look at work history, some guys bounce from shop to shop because nobody likes them. Some because they get bored. Anything less than three years and I am thinking the previous, especially since I know the conditions of most other shops.
Look for a better position inside where you are, whether it's for better work or better people to work with.


03-18-2005, 01:07 PM

[This message has been edited by Wirecutter (edited 01-28-2006).]

03-19-2005, 09:43 AM
Thank you all very much for your helpful advice! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif