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I want to be a machinist

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  • I want to be a machinist

    Hi, new guy here. Found The Home Shop Machinist on the isles of a local Chapters about 2 months ago. Been reading the forums here for the past 2 weeks.

    I'm about 23 and a Software Engineer by mistake. I don't really like sitting in front of a computer 40 hours a week and I'm thinking about a career change. You'll sooner find me in my garage rather than in front of my computer.

    I would say that I mechanically inclined. I can rebuild a car engine, tap a thread, and even fabricate custom parts from fibreglass.

    I'm looking for a career change and I like working with my hands and I was always fascinated by lathes and mills.

    What kind of schooling would I need to become a machinist? What kind of schooling do you have or is it mostly experience?



  • #2
    Lots of ways you can go on this, just stay away from people who have accumulated a lifetime of bad habits and are eager to pass them on to the new guy.


    • #3
      Being a machinist as with most trades can be learned by schooling or on the job training.Even with schooling you will still have a while before you would what is considered a journeyman.School will teach you theory and the basics that you can use to solve problems for yourself better than just saying "Gee,I wonder what is gonna happen if I do this." When you get in a real shop you will see things you will never see in school.


      • #4
        Check out your local community colleges also


        • #5
          Szatniasz: Have you ever thought of marrying the two?

          Software work in embedded systems for industrial control and custom machinery could allow you to get into both the control and processing (and DSP) end as well as being close enough to turn handles on the machines. A small-ish sized shop which does custom work might be a good place to pursue either or both.

          I have a friend who is a senior/staff ME with a large hard drive company (large company, large drives ) but has as much electronics background as a lot of EEs. He frequently helps the EEs out of their problems while at the same time being the master of the mechanical side. The paycheck shows it too


          • #6
            I applaud you (clap,clap,clap)...

            I teach machine shop at a community college..I would welcome you with open arms...My classes are getting smaller and smaller each semester...It is very hard to recruit people into this trade..

            My advice is to take some courses at your local community college..After just one semester, you could gain a wealth of knowledge...I don't know how much money you are making right now, but expect a substantial rate decrease...New machinists tend to start out with relatively low wages, but you can make a good living with a few years under your belt...Sacrifice a little money, and soon it will pay off...

            Experience is everything to an employer..not just schooling..try to get your foot in the door somewhere, a lot of the time they will even pay for your schooling..

            good luck,


            • #7
              I agree on combining the two; like building machines in a custom automation shop.
              Being able to build it and do the control software would be a great combo. Also the difference in wages for a software eng. and a entry-level machinist will be a shock.

              Good luck and keep making chips, Jon
              Jon Bohlander
              My PM Blog


              • #8
                Good advice, thank you all.

                What type of wage difference are we talking about? I currently make about $35K a year.


                [This message has been edited by Szatniasz (edited 02-10-2004).]


                • #9
                  wages could start out between $20-25K a year for the first year...thats making roughly 10-12 an hour..

                  I don't know how the wages are in Canada..or anywhere else in the US..

                  Around here, good top notch machinists make about 18-25 an hour...



                  • #10
                    If you make $35k/yr you are way underpaid as a Software Eng. The lowest pay I know of is $45k for a fresh out.

                    I'm a software consultant. And while I like computer work in general, doing it professionally generally sucks. Slap it together so it sort of works and rush it out the door is the mantra in the industry. If you like to do a good job and take pride in your work you should generally stay away from software. It is definitely not my first choice of occupation. It just pays much more than other jobs, which in turn allows me to support my expensive inventing habbit.

                    You might as well bolt from the computer gig and get to school for machining. The lost income won't be as big a factor as you might think.

                    There is one significant difference between the world of software and that of machining: In machining, you have to do the job right the first time or pay a steep price, in software no one cares, you just fix the bugs in the next release and charge the customer for the privilege of doing so. You may find it difficult to make the jump from the software mindset to that of a machinist. If you don't have a lot of patience, and a bit of perfectionist in you, I don't think Machinist would be a good fit.

                    my $0.02


                    • #11

                      You are sure right about rushing software to market. I spent most of last year beta testing a major new version of a package that will go un-named. It was released to manufacturing in about June complete with severe known problems, against my strongest advice and that of the other beta testers. They then spent the next five months fixing those problems while selling the defective release.
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                      • #12

                        Yeah, could you imagine a customer comming to you for to machine a shaft, you make it 0.010 oversize, and when they bring it back, you charge them to fix it? You would be out of buisiness in a week. But, this is the norm in the world of software. Fortunately, they pay well for such nonsense.


                        • #13
                          I am not sure where Stoney Creek is, but Toronto has a Model Engineers club, as does Hamilton. Just a thought.



                          • #14
                            CNC machinist are inside nice warm dry shops working, I as a electrician work outside in the weather with switchgear, switchyards where the voltage is so high it stands the hair up on your arm.

                            Plenty of robotics related software that needs fixing that was done by young non-mechanical engineers. That is the largest growing field.



                            • #15
                              <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by dnsbss:
                              Check out your local community colleges also</font>
                              Around here (Conestoga College, in Waterloo, Ontario), there are two streams of training for machinists:

                              One is a formal work-release apprenticeship, under government direction, leading to examinations and journeyman status. You must have company sponsorship for that, and you aren't allowed to take the provincial/interprovincial exams without several thousand hours (7,500hr ?) of documented industrial apprenticeship.

                              The other is what Conestoga College called "Machine Tool Setup & Operate". This does not require concurrent apprenticeship. It involves eight hours of classes per week - half theory and half hand-on machining. The full cycle of courses to gain the MTSO Certificate takes about 2.5 years, though students can double up by taking two sessions each week and finish in about 1.25 years. However, the certificate will be in either lathe or mill - there's not enough time in a normal sequence to do both. Local industries have been know to advertise for "machinist apprentices *or* "MTSO students" in the Kitchener area, so the MTSO route seems to be gaining support. A completed MTSO Certificate is reckoned to be more or less equivalent to completing the first year of a four-year apprenticeship - perhaps a bit more. MTSO grads could step into an industrial machine shop without completely embarrassing themselves and they could be immediately useful.

                              I'm enrolled in the MTSO program - for hobby purposes - I couldn't afford to be a working machinist/apprentice at this stage in my life. In California, at DeAnza College, I had started on something similar called the "Experimental Machinist" program which also did not normally lead to an apprenticeship, but was for people who could turn out reasonable experimental pieces on lathe or mill for an electronics lab, or just wanted training for their machining hobby.

                              [This message has been edited by NAIT (edited 02-11-2004).]