Career Snapshot: What is Machine Tool Technology?
The manufacturing sector has been making a big comeback in Upstate South Carolina, and one of the skillsets in the highest demand is machining and CNC programming. At the moment, there are more jobs out there than there are qualified people to fill them. In fact, the demand for machinists is at an all-time high: some companies are even recruiting nationally for local positions.
Companies are currently hiring everyone they can find with the right mix of skills and experience, and are also quickly hiring graduates from various machine tool technology programs throughout South Carolina. And yet, there still aren’t enough skilled individuals to fill the requests.
What is Machine Tool Technology?
Machine Tool Technology allows a machinist to take raw materials, like metal or plastic, and to produce a specialized finished product by manipulating a set of machines, or by programming a computer to follow a set of specifications.
Machinists are in high demand because the parts they can produce are used in industry to help keep machinery running, and can even be production parts that are used by the consumer.
Machinists have an understanding of blueprint reading and schematics, a knowledge of measurement techniques, and the skills required to operate various types of machinery that will take a part from raw material to a finished product.
These machines can include manually operated machines like lathes, drill presses, milling machines, or grinders, and can progress into what’s called CNC technology, which means "computer numerically controlled".
CNC programmers can write the programs that are used by advanced machines to design a part. When the program is entered into a computer, the computer will tell the machine how to make the part. This is new, up-to-date technology used by virtually every advanced manufacturing company in the world today.
Earnings and Education
Although it’s possible to learn these skills on the job, many manufacturers need their employees to come into the job ready to work, so a baseline level of training is necessary for most entry level work. For those wishing to make a career change, a lot of companies offer internal training or apprenticeships, and many of them may provide funds for employees to attend classes to upgrade their skills.
Someone graduating from Piedmont Technical College’s machine tool associate degree program can expect to make from $15-$20 dollars an hour starting out with no previous experience, and some earn up to $30 an hour or more.
Normally workers start out as machine operators, then work their way up to machine set up, and can then become programmers. Experienced CNC programmers can be very well compensated, and are in high demand throughout the country.
*Earnings data for our region from EMSI Analyst
Machine Tool Technology is a rewarding field that's in very high demand right now. To learn more about becoming a machinist, read more about Piedmont Technical College’s program online, or request information to receive information by mail.