Tool and die makers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Tool and die makers construct precision tools or metal forms, called dies, that are used to cut, shape, and form metal and other materials. They produce jigs and fixturesdevices that hold metal while it is bored, stamped, or drilledand gauges and other measuring devices.

Dies are used to shape metal in stamping and forging operations. They also make metal molds for die casting and for molding plastics, ceramics, and composite 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. Computer numeric control 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. Once these programs are developed, CNC machines follow the set of instructions contained in the program to produce the part. 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.

Education Required
Machinists typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, whereas tool and die makers may need to complete courses beyond high school. High school courses in math, blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting are considered useful.
Training Required
There are multiple ways for workers to gain competency in the job as a machinist or tool or die maker. One common way is through long-term on-the-job training, which lasts 1 year or longer.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 1% (Little or no change)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
A number of organizations and colleges offer certification programs. The Skills Certification System, for example, is an industry-driven program that aims to align education pathways with career pathways. In addition, journey-level certification is available from state apprenticeship boards after the completion of an apprenticeship.
Median pay: How much do Machinists and Tool and Die Makers make?
$43,160 Annual Salary
$20.75 per hour

Careers for Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

  • Automotive machinists
  • CNC machinists
  • Die makers
  • Gear machinists
  • Jig bore tool makers
  • Machinists
  • Maintenance machinists
  • Manual lathe machinists
  • Metal die finishers
  • Metal gauge makers
  • Plastic die maker apprentices
  • Precision machinists
  • Production machinists
  • Tool room machinists
  • Toolmakers

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