Tool and Die Makers Career Description
Tool and Die Makers are responsible for producing and repairing tools, dies and any other devices that enable machines to produce a wide variety of products used in daily life. Tool and Die Maker duties include working initially from blueprints to set the sequence of operations to manufacture the tool or die. The pieces of metal to be cut will be measured and marked. The part will be cut, drilled or bored as required and then checked against specification before being assembled and finished. Tool and Die Makers also use computer-aided design (CAD) techniques to create products and parts. Although computer-controlled machine tool operators normally operate the machines that implement the CAD designs, Tool and Die Makers are also trained in their operation and programming. Most Tool and Die Maker skills include proficient use of precision measuring devices. A high level of patience and attention to detail, in combination with good eyesight, is essential. Other qualities include the ability to solve problems independently, be mechanically inclined with strong mathematical skills, and be able to concentrate on physically demanding tasks.
Tool and Die Makers work in tool rooms that are generally kept clean and cool to reduce expansion of the worked parts. Tool rooms are normally relatively quiet, as few machines are running simultaneously. Eye and ear protection is worn, with gloves and masks to reduce exposure to hazardous materials. Machines have safety cut-outs and guards to reduce the likelihood of coming into contact with the moving parts. Tool and Die Makers need stamina, as they spend much of the day on their feet and are required to do moderately heavy lifting.
Although employment of tool and die makers is projected to decline rapidly in the coming years, excellent Tool and Die Maker opportunities are expected as many employers will have difficulty finding qualified applicants to replace retirees and fill other openings.
How much does a Tool and Die Maker make - Tool and Die Maker Salary and Wages
The typical Tool and Die Maker salary range is between $33,000 and $53,000 a year, dependent on the range of skills and experience. Median per-hour wage based on years of experience breaks down as follows: 1-4 years, $13.41-$19.10 ($850 annual bonus); 5-9 years, $16.11-$21.80 ($1017 annual bonus); 10-19 years, $18.88-$24.74 ($1010 annual bonus); 20+ years, $20.34-$26.47 ($1119 annual bonus).
How to become a Tool and Die Maker
Education and Training
Employers generally want a strong educational background, such as a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. In most cases, Tool and Die Maker qualifications involve learning their trade through 4 - 5 years of education and training in formal apprenticeships or in other post-secondary programs. This will be done at local community colleges or technical schools. There are also company and state apprenticeship programs available which are competency based, allowing quicker progression by demonstrating the ability required for a particular skill. It is possible to receive most of the formal classroom training from community and technical colleges while working for a company directly. Often beginning as machine operators, many machinists become Tool and Die Makers in this way. Many years of experience are required following training to become highly skilled. Most Tool and Die Makers specialize in certain types of tools or dies as a result. Tool and Die Makers progress by moving into supervisory and administrative positions. Some become self-employed and start their own business. Tool and Die Maker courses usually take the form of computer classes that help workers become computer-controlled machine tool programmers. Alternatively, a Tool and Die Maker degree from a qualified college may diversify into engineering or tool design.