Career Information for a Degree in Precision Metal Working
Metal working is generally available as an associate's degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.
Associate degree programs in precision metal working prepare students to work with drill presses, lathes, mills and other machine tools used in manufacturing. Most programs include subjects in machine shop blueprint reading, mathematics, metal fabrication and metallurgy. Courses can also teach students to weld or use computer-aided design (CAD) software. Career options available to graduates of these 2-year programs are outlined below.
|Career||Machinist||Tool and Die Maker|
|Education Requirements||Associate's Degree or Apprenticeship*||Associate's Degree or Apprenticeship*|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-22)||9% increase*||1% decrease*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$39,570 annually*||$47,960 annually*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
These workers are responsible for setting up, controlling and monitoring the machine tools used to fabricate metal parts used in a variety of industries. In some instances, the cutting and grinding of metal stock is performed manually, but machinists might also program instructions into computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines in order to automatically regulate the size and speed of a cut. Machinists could also be responsible for fine tuning machines' cutting pieces or examining finished products to ensure they meet the specifications outlined by blueprints and CAD designs.
Tool and Die Maker
Tool and die makers create, maintain and repair the parts used in the machine tools themselves, such as fixtures, molds and gauges. Like machinists, they must be able to turn blueprints and CAD specifications into a series of cutting instructions for CNC machines.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinists earned a median salary of $39,570 as of May 2013. These precision metal workers were expected to experience a nine percent growth in employment opportunities over the 2012-2022 decade.
Tool and die makers earned a median annual salary of $47,960 in the same year. However, the job outlook for these professionals was less favorable. A one percent decrease in employment opportunities was projected over the same 10-year period. However, the BLS reported that the number of new jobs for both types of precision metal workers was still expected to outpace the number of qualified applicants.
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