Careers in Machine Manufacturing Technology

Machine Manufacturing production lab

As a machinist, you will operate metal-removing equipment such as lathes, drill presses, milling machines and grinders, many of which are computer numerically controlled (CNC). You may specialize in operating one type of machine or you may be required to work equally well on several. You will translate blueprints into machine settings and maintain high-quality parts production.

What will I do on the job?

As a machinist, you shape the tools and objects that make up our life, from hammers to housewares; you will operate equipment such as lathes, drill presses, milling machines and grinders, many of which are computer numerically controlled (CNC). Some of the work in manufacturing companies requires machinists to use computers to model and program the parts for these automated machines. Machinists may specialize in the operation of one type of machine, or they may work on a variety of different kinds of equipment, depending on the kind of company they work for. A machinist’s job is often creative in nature, and can give a sense of satisfaction from making things combining your eyes, hands and modern tools. There are many branches of machine manufacturing that an entry-level machinist can pursue, such as general machinist, CNC machine tool operator or tool and die making.

What skills will I use on the job?

As a machinist, you’ll learn important skills in shop mathematics, blueprint reading, precision layout and measurement, basic metallurgy and technical documentation reading. Training in CNC machine programming and operation also adds significant wage-earning potential. Organizational, teamwork and communication skills are also important to a machinist.

Who will hire me?

Excellent employment opportunities exist in the Northwest and throughout the U.S.
Machinists are hired by firms that perform repair, new product design, manufacturing, aircraft, logging and ship repair. Graduates of the PCC Machine Manufacturing Technology program have found work with Boeing, Leupold & Stevens, Oregon Cutting Systems, Freightliner, Leatherman Group and Turk Manufacturing.

How much can I earn?

Hourly wages in the Portland metropolitan area vary depending on the job. For a general machinist, the range is $11.50 to $27 per hour; for a computer numerically controlled machine (CNC) tool operator, pay ranges from $11 to $23 an hour; and for a tool and die maker, the hourly wage ranges from $18 to $29 an hour.