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Tool and die makers create and maintain tools used in manufacturing of all types. These professionals repair, build, and maintain tools and fixtures in compliance with production standards and safety regulations. Tool and die makers work in manufacturing and industrial environments, usually in factories and tool rooms, and primarily report to their supervisors and shift managers. People in this career must be willing to work flexible shifts and put in overtime hours.
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Tool and Die Maker Duties and Responsibilities
Tool and die makers are needed in many manufacturing industries, and people in this profession can find employment in a number of factories and tool shops. In any company, employers will require their tool and die makers to perform several job-specific tasks:
Tool and die makers build fixtures using tools and dies, which are material-shaping devices. Often, the tool and die maker also creates the dies used to build new fixtures.
Disassemble and Reassemble Machinery
They know how to take apart molds, jigs, tools, and fixtures as well as how to put these items back together again.
Read Blueprints and Schematics
Tool and die makers read blueprints and complicated schematics in order to manufacture new fixtures, tools, and machine parts.
Troubleshoot and Repair
Tool and die makers troubleshoot dies and molds and perform repairs on dies, molds, and tools as needed.
Inspect Tools and Finished Dies
When tools and dies are completed, these professionals carefully inspect these items for any signs of imperfection or damage that may affect their functionality.
Test Equipment and Tools
They are also responsible for performing regular tests on all equipment and tools used in manufacturing to ensure high quality.
Keep Work Areas Clean
For safety's sake, tool and die makers must keep their work area clean and well-organized at all times.
Tool and Die Maker Skills and Qualifications
Tool and die makers are good with their hands and have strong mechanical abilities, but people in this career need many other skills in order to succeed. Businesses looking to hire tool and die makers want professionals who have abilities in many other areas in order to perform their jobs well and safely, such as:
- Problem-Solving - Tool and die makers spot potential problems before they happen and troubleshoot tools and equipment on a daily basis
- Communication - They give written and verbal reports frequently, which requires the ability to communicate clearly
- Mathematical ability - Tool and die makers also use many complex calculations, so people in this field must have a working knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, and algebra
- Autonomy - Tool and die makers frequently work with engineers and machinists, but they must also be able to work independently with little supervision in order to complete their daily tasks
- Metallurgic knowledge - These professionals also work with a vast variety of metals and metallic objects, so it is essential for them to understand the properties of metals and have experience working with many types of metal
Tools of the Trade
In addition to working with their hands, tool and die makers work with:
Measuring Tools (calipers, micrometers, scales, height gauges)
Computer Drafting Software (AutoCAD, other CAD programs)
Microsoft Software (Office, Excel)
Tool and Die Maker Education and Training
Tool and die makers need to have a high school diploma or GED to embark on this career path. In addition to a basic high school education, tool and die makers need to have a tool and die maker certification. In order to obtain this, professionals must complete an apprentice program with a licensed professional or an established company. The apprenticeship typically spans two to four years.
Most companies will provide a brief, on-the-job training program for new tool and die makers. This training will typically last one to three weeks to allow the tool and die maker to become familiar with manufacturing processes, safety standards, and company regulations.
Tool and Die Maker Salary and Outlook
In 2016, machinists and tool and die makers earned a median yearly income of $43,160, with a median wage of $20.75 per hour. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 468,600 jobs available for machinists and tool and die makers in 2016. Through 2026, there is little or no change expected in job growth in this field. Jobs are expected to only increase by one percent.
Tool and die makers receive a full benefits package from employers that includes health, vision, dental, and life insurance coverage. Most companies will also provide paid sick days, paid holidays, and vacation leave. Some companies may give employee profit-sharing bonuses as an extra job perk.
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Find professional resources, tips, and guidance for tool and die makers using these websites and books:
National Tooling and Machining Association
Visit NTMA to find training tools and educational resources as well as professional networking opportunities for tool and die makers. This site also contains news bulletins and articles containing important manufacturing information.
Fast Track to Tool & Die Maker
Get on the fast track to being a successful tool and die maker with this reference guide by Mike Boyden that provides stepbystep instructions. This book contains formulas, charts, and graphs used regularly by tool and die makers.
Metal Forming Magazine
This magazine provides constant fresh content for tool and die makers. In addition to articles, Metal Forming Magazine provides an industry showcase, career opportunities, and a calendar of metal forming events.
Tool and Die Maker Career (Special Edition): The Insider's Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview & Getting Promoted
This book, by Anne Johnson, is written in simple language to help tool and die makers not only get a job, but advance in their chosen career through promotions and opportunities.
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