A Day in the Life of a Machinist

Last month we brought you a story about the machining program at Pinellas Technical Institute and highlighted its role in meeting the demand for qualified and skilled machinists in Florida. This month we take a first-hand look at what it takes to be a machinist.

Meet Molly Woods—a machinist at Vulcan Machine Inc., one of FLATE’s strategic industry partners located in Tampa that specializes in custom aerospace machining and commercial precision manufacturing. Working with machines is second nature to Woods who has been working for Vulcan—her family owned business—since 2007. “From start to finish I like running the machines, cleaning the parts, and love the ‘hey I made that’ feeling.” Woods loves new challenges. Initially, she started doing basic work on the machines then moved to doing more complex tasks. On any given day, her work runs the gamut of working with six to seven different machines and ensuring they run smoothly. She works on CNC machines that manufacture parts for Vulcan’s aerospace customers. She is also responsible for operating the mills and lathes, uses different methods like fast bright to take the burr off the parts, and boxes the final product readying them for final shipment. “My job is highly productive and interesting” says Woods. “I love making parts and seeing the products that I manufacture can be used by another company.”

Indeed, a machinist’s job is not all work and no pay. Nationally, machinists can earn up to $18 dollars an hour, with average annual income of nearly 50K (Source: http://machinistsalary.org). In Florida, machinists can earn up to $23 an hour with a starting annual salary close to 30K. Not only is money a motivating factor, but working as a machinist offers tremendous opportunities, especially for women. According to the Department of Labor only 3.9% of the total machinist workforce is comprised of women (Source: Department of Labor). Woods agrees machining may not be a traditional pathway for women, but encourages women and girls of all ages to look into it as a viable educational and professional pathway that offers a rewarding career. The NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working skills) Certification for example (discussed in last month’s FLATE Focus) is a great way to get started and gain a nationally recognized industry certification. For Florida residents, the machining program at Pinellas Technical Center is another great way to add to one’s educational skill set. “You can do anything if you put your mind to it” says Woods. Besides, she adds, “it is fun to run the machines and be the only woman on the shop floor.”

For more information about the machining program at pTEC and the NIMS (National Institute of Metal Working Skills) Certification visit www.myptec.org. For information on FLATE’s industry aligned programs visit www.madeinflorida.org, and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.