How To Become A Journeyman Machinist

May 9, 2024

This article was originally published on ResourceMFG.

Becoming a journeyman machinist

In manufacturing, every intricate part, component, and machine is the result of the work of skilled machinists. If you have a passion for problem-solving and a desire to create, then becoming a journeyman machinist might be right for you.

Discover the steps to begin and advance a career as a journeyman machinist.

What is a journeyman machinist?

Journeyman machinists are skilled craftsmen who use lathes, milling machines, grinders and other tools to make components. From blueprint to finished product, these professionals use their skills to bring designs to life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 389,000 people employed in the Machinists and Tool and Die Makers sector. Among them, 155,868 are classified as journeyman machinists.

What does a journeyman machinist do?

Typical tasks for a journeyman machinist include:

  • Interpreting technical drawings and blueprints to understand part specifications.
  • Operating machinery to shape and finish components made of metal, plastics or composite materials.
  • Ensuring precise measurements and accuracy to meet tight tolerances.
  • Selecting appropriate cutting tools, fixtures, and machine settings for each job.
  • Performing quality control checks to verify that dimensions and surface finishes meet specifications.

Factory worker using tools for machinist

5 steps to become a journeyman machinist

Now that you know what this kind of machinery worker does, here’s an overview on how to start and advance a career as a journeyman machinist.

1. Obtain the proper machinist qualifications

Typically, becoming a machinist requires a high school diploma or GED. About 36% of journeyman machinists pursue an associate’s degree, and up to 15% earn a bachelor’s degree. A solid educational foundation in mathematics, physics, and technical drawing makes subsequent job training much more manageable.

You might also consider enrolling in a vocational school or technical college or an apprenticeship program for hands-on training in operating machine tools, reading blueprints, and understanding the principles of metalworking.

2. Hone your relevant skills

Seek out opportunities to work on real-world projects and learn from experienced professionals. Throughout your education and training, focus on developing machinist skills such as:

  • Technical proficiency.
  • Blueprint reading.
  • Precision machining.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Mathematical skills.
  • Material knowledge.
  • Quality control procedures.
  • Safety awareness.

3. Pursue certification

Certification as a journeyman machinist can significantly enhance your career prospects. Organizations such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) or Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) offer certification programs that validate your skills and knowledge in areas such as CNC machinist skills, precision measurement, and toolmaking.

4. Gain industry experience

To gain practical experience, look for entry-level positions or apprenticeships at manufacturing companies, machine shops, or aerospace firms. On-the-job experience will allow you to further refine your machinist skills and expand your knowledge of techniques and processes.

5. Keep up with trends and aim for advancement

The field of machining is evolving, so it’s important to attend workshops, seminars, and trade shows to keep your skills and knowledge sharp. And as you gain experience and expertise, you can consider pursuing specialized certifications or training in areas such as CNC programming or advanced tooling.