Bureau of Labor Statistics

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

machinists and tool and die makers image
Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate many different machines.
Quick Facts: Machinists and Tool and Die Makers
2020 Median Pay $47,040 per year
$22.62 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 425,300
Job Outlook, 2020-30 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 29,700

Summary

What Machinists and Tool and Die Makers Do

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate equipment to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

Work Environment

Machinists and tool and die makers work in machine shops and factories. Many work full time during regular business hours. However, working overtime, as well as nights and weekends, may be common.

How to Become a Machinist or Tool and Die Maker

Although machinists typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation, tool and die makers also may need to complete postsecondary courses. Machinists and tool and die makers typically are trained on the job. Some learn through training or apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community and technical colleges.

Pay

The median annual wage for machinists was $45,840 in May 2020.

The median annual wage for tool and die makers was $54,760 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of machinists and tool and die makers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 47,500 openings for machinists and tool and die makers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for machinists and tool and die makers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of machinists and tool and die makers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about machinists and tool and die makers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Machinists and Tool and Die Makers Do

Machinists and tool and die makers
Machinists typically use blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files.

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled equipment to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

Duties

Machinists typically do the following:

  • Read detailed drawings or files, such as blueprints, sketches, and those for computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
  • 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
  • Verify that completed products meet requirements

Tool and die makers typically do the following:

  • Read detailed drawings or files—such as blueprints, sketches, specifications, and those for CAD and CAM—to make tools, molds, 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
  • Test completed tools and dies to ensure that they meet specifications
  • Smooth and polish the surfaces of tools and dies

Machinists use lathes, milling machines, grinders, and other machine tools 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 programs instructions into the CNC machine to determine the cutting path, cutting speed, and feed rate.

Although workers may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or single items. The parts that machinists make include steel bolts, titanium bone screws, and automobile pistons.

Some machinists repair broken parts or make new parts that an industrial machinery mechanic discovers in a machine. The machinist refers to engineering drawings 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 mold metal, plastics, and other 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. CNC 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. 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.

Work Environment

Machinists and tool and die makers
Some machinists and tool and die makers work evenings and weekends because facilities may operate around the clock.

Machinists held about 363,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of machinists were as follows:

Machine shops 22%
Machinery manufacturing 19
Transportation equipment manufacturing 12
Employment services 6

Tool and die makers held about 62,300 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of tool and die makers were as follows:

Metalworking machinery manufacturing 22%
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing 14
Machine shops; turned product; and screw, nut, and bolt manufacturing 5
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 5
Plastics product manufacturing 5

Injuries and Illnesses

Because machinists and tool and die makers may work with machine tools that present hazards, these workers must take precautions to avoid injuries. For example, workers must wear protective equipment, such as safety glasses to shield against bits of flying metal and earplugs to dampen the noise produced by machinery.

Work Schedules

Many machinists and tool and die makers work full time during regular business hours. However, some work nights and weekends in facilities that operate around the clock. Some work more than 40 hours a week.

How to Become a Machinist or Tool and Die Maker

Machinists and tool and die makers
Machinists and tool and die makers typically are trained on the job.

Although machinists typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation, tool and die makers also may need to complete postsecondary courses. Machinists and tool and die makers typically are trained on the job. Some learn through training or apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community and technical colleges.

Education

Machinists typically need a high school diploma or equivalent; tool and die makers also may need to complete postsecondary courses. High school courses in math, blueprint reading, metalworking, and CAD/CAM are considered useful.

Some community colleges and technical schools have 2-year degree programs or shorter nondegree certificate programs that train students to become machinists or tool and die makers. These programs usually teach design and how to read engineering drawings, the use of a variety of welding and cutting tools, and the programming and function of CNC machines.

Training

Machinists and tool and die makers typically gain competency through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship.

Trainees usually learn on the job, which may include technical instruction outside of typical work hours. Trainees often begin as machine operators and gradually take on more difficult assignments. Machinists and tool and die makers must be comfortable using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines. Some machinists become tool and die makers.

Some new workers enter apprenticeship programs, which are typically sponsored by an employer. Apprenticeship programs often consist of paid training on the job and related technical instruction lasting several years. The technical instruction may be provided in cooperation with local community colleges and vocational–technical schools. Workers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter an apprenticeship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Completing a certification program, though optional, allows machinists and tool and die makers to demonstrate competency and may be helpful for advancement. Colleges and organizations, such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), offer certifications and credentials in CNC machine operation, CAD/CAM technology, and other relevant competencies.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must be able to interpret technical blueprints, models, and specifications so that they can craft precision tools and metal parts.

Manual dexterity. Machinists’ and tool and die makers’ work demands accuracy, sometimes to within .0001 of an inch. This level of accuracy requires both concentration and agility.

Mechanical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers may operate milling machines, lathes, grinders, laser and water jetting 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 metalworking processes. They must be able to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and manual and computerized measuring machines.

Pay

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Tool and die makers

$54,760

Machinists and tool and die makers

$47,040

Machinists

$45,840

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Metal workers and plastic workers

$40,770

 

The median annual wage for machinists was $45,840 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,050.

The median annual wage for tool and die makers was $54,760 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,090.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for machinists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Transportation equipment manufacturing $49,370
Machinery manufacturing 45,800
Machine shops 44,790
Employment services 34,250

In May 2020, the median annual wages for tool and die makers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing $69,360
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing 61,230
Machine shops; turned product; and screw, nut, and bolt manufacturing 54,370
Plastics product manufacturing 52,320
Metalworking machinery manufacturing 51,430

The pay of apprentices is tied to their skill level. As they reach specific levels of performance and experience, their pay increases.

Many machinists and tool and die makers work full time during regular business hours. However, some work nights and weekends in facilities that operate around the clock. Some work more than 40 hours a week.

Job Outlook

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Machinists

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

Machinists and tool and die makers

7%

Metal workers and plastic workers

2%

Tool and die makers

2%

 

Overall employment of machinists and tool and die makers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 47,500 openings for machinists and tool and die makers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Employment of machinists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Machinists will be required to set up, monitor, and maintain improved technology systems, such as computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, autoloaders, high-speed machining, and lights-out manufacturing.

Employment of tool and die makers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations. All of this projected employment growth reflects recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020, as overall demand for the services provided by these workers is expected to decline. Advances in automation, including CNC machine tools, reduce demand for tool and die makers to do certain tasks, such as programming how parts fit together.

Employment projections data for machinists and tool and die makers, 2020-30

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Machinists and tool and die makers

SOC Code
Employment, 2020425,300
Projected Employment, 2030455,100
Percent Change, 2020-307
Numeric Change, 2020-3029,700
Employment by Industry
Occupational Title

Machinists

SOC Code51-4041
Employment, 2020363,000
Projected Employment, 2030391,800
Percent Change, 2020-308
Numeric Change, 2020-3028,800
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Tool and die makers

SOC Code51-4111
Employment, 202062,300
Projected Employment, 203063,300
Percent Change, 2020-302
Numeric Change, 2020-30900
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of machinists and tool and die makers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Boilermakers Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

High school diploma or equivalent $65,360
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $54,920
Metal and plastic machine workers Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate equipment that cuts, shapes, and forms metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One $38,270
Sheet metal workers Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,370
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,190

Contacts for More Info

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this occupation, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, or local businesses that employ machinists and tool and die makers. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about machinists and tool and die makers, including training and certification, visit 

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA)

Manufacturing Institute (MI)

National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS)

For information about manufacturing careers, including machinery and tool and die makers, visit 

American Mold Builders Association (AMBA)

Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT)

National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA)

Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA)

Precision Metalforming Association (PMA)

O*NET

Machinists

Tool and Die Makers

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Machinists and Tool and Die Makers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/machinists-and-tool-and-die-makers.htm (visited December 21, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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