What is a Machinist?

Almost every object you see in the world contains parts that are created by a machinist – from a desk to a car engine to the wings of an airplane. Like a sculptor, a machinist uses high-tech cutting machines to shape metal, plastics, ceramics, composites and even wood into something new.


  • Read drawings to learn the details of what needs to be created
  • Think creatively to determine the most effective and efficient way to cut the material into the desired shape and size
  • Select the proper materials and tools to get the job done, such as calipers, drills and endmills
  • Set up and program the high-tech cutting machines to make the part, using CAD and CNC software
  • Inspect finished product to ensure accuracy

Related: Machinist Program Outline


A long-term career with a good salary, job advancement opportunities and the chance to work with your hands and cutting-edge technology.

Become a machinist through AJAC’s apprenticeship program. Get paid while learning on the job and attend classes only one night a week! To find out how you can become an apprentice and launch your career in aerospace or manufacturing, visit AJAC’s Get Started Section.

On-the-Job Training Competencies:

OJT Competency

Approximate OJT Hours

Machining Basics


CNC Machining


CNC Programming






Cutting Tool Technology


Machine Set-Up Procedures


Bench Work


Conventional Machining


Advanced Machining Technologies




Machining Apprentices Take the Following Classes:

  • Precision Machining I & II – Manual machining skills and knowledge, Lean manufacturing principles, milling machining/drill press and lathe
  • Engineering Drawings, GD & T and Precision Fits – Technical drawings, geometric dimensioning, theory and application of standard tolerances
  • Shop Algebra, Applied Geometry and Trigonometry – Perimeters, areas, volume, trigonometric ratios, algebraic processes relating to manufacturing
  • CNC Operation and Setup – G&M programing, reading G&M code, XYZ coordinates, establishing tool length offsets (TLO), calculating changed data capture (CDC) and cutter radius compensation (CRC)
  • CNC Programming Mill & Lathe – Write command and basic programs for mills and lathes using G&M codes
  • Materials, Processes and References – Comprehensive understanding of outside processes and the properties of materials that are governed by industry standards
  • Inspection – Measuring and inspection of size, position, form, surface finish and orientation
  • Advanced Machining Technologies – Exploration of new, emerging and advancing technologies, including properties and machining of composites