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Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for machinists are expected to grow by 2%, and should have about 40,900 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
The likelihood of autmoation for ${title} is near the middle of all careers' likelihoods.
Workforce size
Machinists, with 396,200 workers, form a larger workforce than 89% of careers.
Only 4% of machinists have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by machinists
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer machinists have bachelor's degrees than 87% of other careeers.
The median (middle) salary for 57% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for machinists. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most machinists.
This job's median $44KAll jobs' median $39K$43K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Context: Median Salary
Women account for 4% of machinists -- that's a smaller percentage than 88% of other jobs.
Gender of machinists
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For machinists, the median men's salary was 44% more the median woman's salary.
About 13% of machinists are minority, and 13% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of machinists
Pacific Islander
American Indian
Context: Foreign-born workers (13%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Machinists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 51% of machinists, and 70% have company-sponsored health insurance (16% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for machinists
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of machinists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment (87%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (77%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (70%)
  • Time Pressure (68%)
  • Consequence of Error (49%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (44%)
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do machinists earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for machinists, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for machinists compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for machinists (BLS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all machinists, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for machinists compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for machinists (ACS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where machinists work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Machinists (ACS)
Private for-profit (94.5%)
Private not-for-profit (0.9%)
Local government (0.5%)
State government (0.4%)
Federal government (1.4%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (1.2%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of machinists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$46K$46K$61K$37K$53K$47K$56K$57K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of machinists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$44K$60K$86K$43K$52K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for machinists

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$38K$46K$51K$42K$51K$52K$47K$29K$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
020K40K60KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Machinists and gender

With 4% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 88% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
Gender of Machinists
Men (96%)
Women (4%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for machinists tops that, with the median salary for men 44% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Machinists have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 93% of other jobs.


Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race and origin of machinists

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority machinists than for 79% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of machinists
White (84% )
Black (5% )
Asian (5% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
Distribution: Salaries for machinists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$37K$39K$40K$40K$42K$47K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KOtherMultiracialBlackHispanicAmerican IndianAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for machinists by nativity
$43K$46K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by machinists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), machinists typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as machinists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for machinists.

Education attained by machinists
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Details: Education and training recommended for machinists

Machinists typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, whereas tool and die makers may need to complete courses beyond high school. High school courses in math, blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting are considered useful.

Some community colleges and technical schools have 2-year programs that train students to become machinists or tool and die makers. These programs usually teach design and blueprint reading, the use of a variety of welding and cutting tools, and the programming and function of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for machinists

A number of organizations and colleges offer certification programs. The Skills Certification System, for example, is an industry-driven program that aims to align education pathways with career pathways. In addition, journey-level certification is available from state apprenticeship boards after the completion of an apprenticeship.

Completing a certification program provides machinists and tool and die makers with better job opportunities and helps employers judge the abilities of new hires.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for machinists? Below we see the distribution of machinists salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as machinists, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$39K$45K$48K$51K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (10%)High School (46%)Some College (28%)Associate's Degree (12%)Bachelor's Degree (4%)
Certificate/degree pathways
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for machinists

What jobs will most machinists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of machinists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

MachinistsMetal and plastic workersProduction workersComputer control programmers and operatorsAssemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)Welding, soldering, and brazing workersManagers (specialized areas)First-line supervisors of production and operating workersIndustrial and refractory machinery mechanicsTool and die makersDriver/sales workers and truck drivers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for machinists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 9 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as machinists as well as 1% of respondents after working as machinists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for machinists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as machinists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of machinists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Read about machinists
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Machinists typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble manual, automatic, and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools
  • Align, secure, and adjust cutting tools and workpieces
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines
  • Turn, mill, drill, shape, and grind machine parts to specifications
  • Measure, examine, and test completed products for defects
  • Smooth the surfaces of parts or products
  • Present finished workpieces to customers and make modifications if needed

Tool and die makers typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints, sketches, specifications, or CAD and CAM files for making tools and dies
  • Compute and verify dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of workpieces
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble conventional, manual, and CNC machine tools
  • File, grind, and adjust parts so that they fit together properly
  • Test completed tools and dies to ensure that they meet specifications
  • Smooth and polish the surfaces of tools and dies

Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts. Many machinists must be able to use both manual and CNC machinery. CNC machines control the cutting tool speed and do all necessary cuts to create a part. The machinist determines the cutting path, the speed of the cut, and the feed rate by programming instructions into the CNC machine.

Although workers may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. The parts that machinists make range from simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Hydraulic parts, antilock brakes, and automobile pistons are other widely known products that machinists make.

Some machinists repair or make new parts for existing machinery. After an industrial machinery mechanic discovers a broken part in a machine, a machinist remanufactures the part. The machinist refers to blueprints and performs the same machining operations that were used to create the original part in order to create the replacement.

Some manufacturing processes use lasers, water jets, and electrified wires to cut the workpiece. As engineers design and build new types of machine tools, machinists must learn new machining properties and techniques.

Tool and die makers construct  precision tools or metal forms, called dies, that are used to cut, shape, and form metal and other materials. They produce jigs and fixtures—devices that hold metal while it is bored, stamped, or drilled—and gauges and other measuring devices.

Dies are used to shape metal in stamping and forging operations. They also make metal molds for die casting and for molding plastics, ceramics, and composite materials.

Tool and die makers use CAD to develop products and parts. They enter designs into computer programs that produce blueprints for the required tools and dies. Computer numeric control programmers, described in the metal and plastic machine workers profile, convert CAD designs into CAM programs that contain instructions for a sequence of cutting-tool operations. Once these programs are developed, CNC machines follow the set of instructions contained in the program to produce the part. Machinists normally operate CNC machines, but tool and die makers often are trained to both operate CNC machines and write CNC programs and thus may do either task.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of machinists? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
Machinists and tool and die makers must understand technical blueprints, models, and specifications so that they can craft precision tools and metal parts.
Manual dexterity
Machinists’ and tool and die makers’ work must be accurate. For example, machining parts may demand accuracy to within .0001 of an inch, a level of accuracy that requires workers’ concentration and dexterity.
Math skills and computer application experience
Workers must be experienced in using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines.
Mechanical skills
Machinists and tool and die makers must operate milling machines, lathes, grinders, laser and water cutting machines, wire electrical discharge machines, and other machine tools.
Physical stamina
Machinist and tool and die makers must stand for extended periods and perform repetitious movements.
Technical skills
Machinists and tool and die makers must understand computerized measuring machines and metalworking processes, such as stock removal, chip control, and heat treating and plating.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for machinists
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 57% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for machinists. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $44KAll jobs' median $39K$45K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for machinists are anticipated to grow by 2% over the next decade; 74% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for machinists is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most machinists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as machinists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
Number of Machinists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where machinists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for machinists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for machinists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
Median salary ratio: Machinists to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which machinists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Machinists (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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