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


How do I Become a Machinist?

Manufacturing companies in Washington State are looking for eligible women and men to hire and place in a Machinist apprenticeship. Those who meet the minimum qualifications for apprenticeship and possess technical or mechanical skills (e.g., jobs, classes or hobbies) are in high demand by companies who participate in the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) apprenticeship program.

  • Raquel Taijito
    Raquel Taijito
    "I didn’t expect to progress because I didn’t know anything at all. Now I’m able to run CNC machines and manuals and actually figure things out on my own. Now I have more confidence in what I’m doing—I’m not afraid to ask questions or take on the challenge that is in front of me."
  • Ebonee Heller
    Ebonee Heller
    "In this industry, there are so many ways to grow and I'm looking forward to my next chapter! Who said this isn't a woman's job?!"
  • Brian Anderson
    Brian Anderson
    "Completing the AJAC Machinist Apprenticeship program—in my mind—is an accomplishment and marker of skills. I am proud to have these skills in my toolbox. They are tools I will use to build my future and it gave me something I know I can hang my hat on."
  • Rachel Talley
    Rachel Talley
    "I am proud to be the first woman at the Lighthouse to go through any of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) programs. Today, I am a Senior Aerospace Production Worker at the Lighthouse’s Seattle facility making parts for The Boeing Company and other aerospace companies."
  • Rudy Mendoza
    Rudy Mendoza
    "I'm most proud of having the ability to machine now and have the certificates to show that I've completed the course and was able to follow through with something, finally!"

What are the Benefits of Becoming a Machinist?

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.

Related: Machinist Program Outline | Standards of Apprenticeship

On-the-Job Training Competencies:

OJT Competency

Approximate OJT Hours

Conventional & CNC Machining Basics


Conventional & CNC Machining Operations


CNC Set-Up & Advanced Operation Procedures


Material Process, Quality Assurance & Cutting Technology


Advanced Machining Techniques & NC Basic Programming


Inspection, Parts Finishing, Deburr, Assembly, Bench Work




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 composite

Get Started

To launch your career as a Machinist apprentice, please complete our Getting Started form to submit your information.