10 Pros and Cons of Being a Machinist (With Salary and Duties)

Updated September 30, 2022

A career as a machinist can be a rewarding path if you're interested in working with your hands and creating pieces using machining skills. Machinists are responsible for using equipment to create parts, and they may specialize in certain types of machines. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a professional machinist, it's helpful to understand the pros and cons of the role so you can decide whether it's the right career for you. In this article, we explain what a machinist does and discuss the pros and cons of this career.

Related: What Is a Machinist?

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What does a machinist do?

A machinist is a professional tradesperson who works with metal, wood and plastic to create parts for equipment and machines. A professional machinist may have the following job responsibilities:

  • Using precision measuring instruments

  • Operating lathes

  • Creating new parts for machines, such as hydraulic parts

  • Repairing existing parts on machines

  • Operating grinders

  • Learning new machining technology

  • Reading and interpreting part blueprints

  • Operating millers

  • Modeling parts for machines

  • Testing parts and products

  • Using cutting tools

A machinist may have different titles, including :

  • Mill hand

  • Patternmaker

  • Tool and die maker

  • Turning hand

  • Molder

Related: How To Become a Machinist in 8 Steps

Pros of being a machinist

There are several advantages to becoming a machinist, including:

1. Salary potential

Professional machinists earn an income that's often seen as very attractive to people interested in the field. Those in this role make a national average income of $58,636 per year. This amount may vary based on multiple factors, including your location and employer. Some machinists can increase their salary potential by gaining more years of experience or completing specialized training.

2. Job outlook

The job outlook for those working as a machinist is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for machinists and the related role of tool and die makers are expected to increase 7% from the years 2020 to 2030. This is about as fast as average. This is a steadily growing occupation, so people who are interested in pursuing this type of work may find many job opportunities over the next few years.

Related: How To Become a CNC Machinist

3. Rewarding work

Many people find working as a machinist to be very rewarding, as they can make parts and then see how they work as a larger part of something. Almost immediately upon creating something or repairing it, machinists can see how their work looks and feels and how it contributes to a machine or piece of equipment. Therefore, the work you accomplish as a machinist can lead to a high level of job satisfaction.

4. Benefits

Another advantage of becoming a machinist is the benefits package you can get. Most employers offer attractive benefits packages to machinists. Often, employers offer life insurance and health insurance plans, and they may also offer retirement programs, loan repayment programs and partial or full tuition reimbursement for their schooling.

Related: How To Get Into a Trade

5. Advancement opportunities

In this trade, there are often many advancement opportunities available. As you gain more experience and acquire new skills in the field, you can advance your career and become a top machinist at your place of employment. As you advance in your position as a machinist, you can likely earn a higher income as well, which is an added benefit to the role.

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Cons of being a machinist

There are also potential disadvantages to pursuing a career as a machinist, including those which may impact your physical health and those which may require continuous learning. Some cons include:

1. Physical toll

Being constantly on your feet and using equipment, tools and machinery may cause you to get tired or feel stress on your body. This can take somewhat of a physical toll, which can present exhaustion or discomfort. Taking breaks from work, eating healthily, staying hydrated and relaxing outside of work can help ease any physical stress you may undergo while working.

Related: 16 Jobs in the Engineering Field That Don't Require a Four-Year Degree

2. Risk of injury

As a professional who works with heavy-duty tools and machines, there is a constant risk of injury present. This is common in many trade jobs and may require you to be extra careful and cautious while working. Learning how to use all the tools involved in your role carefully and accurately and asking for help when you need it can help you stay safe while on the job and help to keep your coworkers safe as well.

3. Working conditions

The working conditions for machinists can sometimes be fairly intense. In this role, loud machines may surround you, and there's a chance you may become physically uncomfortable occasionally. Choosing the most reputable company possible to work for and reviewing work environment policies and practices that they have can help in ensuring that your working conditions are the best they can be for the role.

Related: The 6 Best Union Jobs To Consider

4. Constantly changing and new technology

As technology evolves and improves and new machines and equipment launch, machinists are usually responsible for learning how to fix these new products and create pieces for them. Therefore, those in this role usually have to constantly learn how to use new technology, create new technology and repair new technology. While this can be stressful, this can help you keep your machinist skills sharp, expand your knowledge of the field and learn new things.

5. Working inside

Those in machinist roles typically conduct all of their work inside. This can mean that you spend eight or more hours working inside a factory or other manufacturing building, which may get boring or uncomfortable. Those who prefer more outdoor spaces and working conditions may not enjoy working as a machinist. You can combat this by taking regular breaks. For example, you might go for walks outside or take your lunch break outdoors. This can allow you to get fresh air and change your environment during the workday.

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