Machine Tool & Computer-Aided Manufacturing

If you study machine tool and computer-aided manufacturing, you'll learn how to design and create products based on drawings from engineers. Machinists work with their minds and hands to make parts for the things we use every day. For example, cars, computers, toys, guns, machines, robots, farm equipment, guitars, stage sets and more are all made from parts created by machinists.

As a machinist, you'd work in an industrial setting, using computers and machines to create tools and make the parts that we all depend on.

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Essential Skills and Salary Information

State and National Wages & Employment Trends

Location Pay Period 2011
10% 25% Median 75% 90%
United States Hourly $11.19 $13.56 $16.93 $20.93 $25.17
Yearly $23,300 $28,200 $35,200 $43,500 $52,400
Pennsylvania Hourly $11.68 $14.63 $17.63 $21.55 $26.19
Yearly $24,300 $30,400 $36,700 $44,800 $54,500
United States Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2010 2020
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic 125,100 149,000 +19% 4,780
Pennsylvania Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2008 2018
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic 8,000 7,650 -4% 100

1 Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

Note: The data for the State Employment Trends and the National Employment Trends are not directly comparable. The projections period for state data is 2008-2018, while the projections period for national data is 2010-2020.

Information provided by CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Tasks

  • Measure dimensions of finished workpieces to ensure conformance to specifications, using precision measuring instruments, templates, and fixtures.
  • Remove and replace dull cutting tools.
  • Mount, install, align, and secure tools, attachments, fixtures, and workpieces on machines, using hand tools and precision measuring instruments.
  • Listen to machines during operation to detect sounds such as those made by dull cutting tools or excessive vibration and adjust machines to compensate for problems.
  • Adjust machine feed and speed, change cutting tools, or adjust machine controls when automatic programming is faulty or if machines malfunction.
  • Stop machines to remove finished workpieces or to change tooling, setup, or workpiece placement, according to required machining sequences.
  • Lift workpieces to machines manually or with hoists or cranes.
  • Modify cutting programs to account for problems encountered during operation and save modified programs.
  • Calculate machine speed and feed ratios and the size and position of cuts.
  • Insert control instructions into machine control units to start operation.

Tools used in this occupation

  • Calipers — Dial calipers; Vernier calipers
  • Gauges or inspection fixtures — 0-1 drop indicators; Bore gauges; Dial indicators; Pin gauges
  • Lathes — 5 axis lathes; Computer numerical control CNC vertical lathes; Swiss style lathes; Twin spindle lathes
  • Milling machines — Manual mills; Vertical milling machines
  • Turning machines — Computerized numerical control CNC turning centers; Turning centers

Technology used in this occupation

  • Analytical or scientific software — CNC Consulting Machinists' Calculator; EditCNC software; Kentech Trig Kalculator
  • Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD software; KCDw Software; SolidWorks CAD software; UGS Solid Edge
  • Computer aided manufacturing CAM software — 1CadCam Unigraphics; CNC Mastercam; SmartCAM software; Vero International VISI-Series
  • Project management software — GSupply Solutions ShopTrakker; Kentech Kipware PLN; Microsoft Project
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel

Knowledge

  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Skills

  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Equipment Selection — Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.

Abilities

  • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

Work Activities

  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.

Interests

Interest code: RC

  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.