What Machinists Do

Whether in the oil and gas industry or another field, machinists will have very similar duties. Their main responsibilities will be selecting the materials to be used for custom-made tools or pieces, making all appropriate measurements, setting up the equipment to create the tool or piece, and then using the equipment to perform the cuts. Despite the fact that the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts slow growth in the number of machinist jobs, growth should be much faster in the oil and gas industry, due to hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States and the renewed growth in extraction and refining that has been the result of its use.

In Focus: Machine Tool Technology Training


Machinists must be good at using their hands and their brains to perform their work. They must have the technical knowledge and experience with the equipment as well as the ability to look at and analyze piece or tool specs and designs and know how to bring them to life. This means that some people with little education outside of high school can get a job as a machinist apprentice (when these positions are available) and spend between two to four years on the job learning the trade.

Common responsibilities you might see in a job listing include:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must have a GED or a high school diploma.
  • Must have vocational training or work experience.
  • Any required math must have been completed within the last 5 years.
  • To qualify through work experience, the minimum requirement is one year of trade-related work experience. In addition, work experience applicants must have completed four math courses within the last 5 years.
  • Must have Mastercam programming experience with lathes and mills.
  • Machinist will be responsible for all projects and products manufactured.
  • Machinist will fabricate quality parts, meeting production schedules and time lines to deliver products on schedule.
  • Machinist will set up and operate CNC Mills.
  • Machinist must have experience with small to medium parts machining.
  • Machinist accurately reads and understands engineering drawings, CNC programs, and work instructions to ensure proper setup requirements, sequence operations, and dimensions and tolerance levels of finished product.
  • Machinist machines parts to required specifications and delivery schedules.
  • Machinist monitors controls to regulate machining factors such as speed, feed, coolant flow, depth and angle of cut.
  • Performs and documents quality checks during machining operations.
  • Uses measuring instruments or gauges to assure each part meets specifications.
  • Machinist confers with CNC programmers and production management to resolve machining issues.
  • Machinist proposes process improvements, participates in the company quality and health and safety programs, and performs other duties as assigned.
  • Two years of military training is also accepted to meet eligibility requirements.

These are just a few of the responsibilities that the machinist may find on some job postings. As mentioned, there are a few types of machinists, both within the oil and gas industry and outside of it. However, the three most common positions are the apprentice machinist, machinist, and machinist II or machinist foreman, who acts as the supervisor of other machinists.

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