Back in 2014, local Connecticut manufacturers expressed concern over an aging workforce in a vibrant industry for the state of CT. In response, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy stated it is necessary for CT and elsewhere to continue to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing, reminding them, "Entry-level jobs in manufacturing often pay more than entry-level positions for those with a four-year college degree."
Although that still rings true, there are only an estimated 63,000 toolmakers left in the US job market. Producing parts requires a high level of skill and precision, and with such a shortage of skilled professionals, it’s clear to see why manufacturers are always in need of toolmakers.
What Does a Tool and Die Maker Do?
The tool and die maker is a type of machinist whose responsibility is to create tools, parts, and instruments. Usually very detailed, the importance of a toolmaker is that they can produce these products at a higher level. time after time. Precision items can be produced by tool and die makers with the use of machines. Specific job duties tools and die makers often have include:
- Able to read blueprints and operating manuals for very specific detailed parts and machines.
- Calculates dimensions for pieces accurately
- Operates heavy-duty machinery
- Adjusts parts correctly to be assembled together
- Inspects products for faults
- Cleans tools and machinery
- Maintains a safe working environment
Benefits of Being a Toolmaker
Becoming a tool and die maker, is a great career for those who are good with their hands and have a strong interest in machinery. If you are thinking of joining this different type of career, the benefits below should be able to make your mind up for you.
Safe Working Environment
Tool and die makers are constantly producing tools and parts to a high standard. It goes without saying that the work environment in which they operate has to be clean, safe, and cool.
They work with a team of professionals during usual business hours with time off for lunch and the normal annual leave that is available to any other kind of job.
Tool and die makers play a very important role in innovation. Like any other industry, the industry is constantly evolving, and each die maker has to keep up with modern equipment and practices.
Furthermore, tool and die makers can see their creations come to life in the everyday world which can be a rewarding aspect of the career.
Above Average Salary
On average, tool and die makers earn a salary of above $40,000 per year. The pay for each individual will differ depending on location, employer, and experience level. As would happen in any other career, the more experience you have, the more you are able to earn.
However, unlike many other professions, tool and die makers have the opportunity to work overtime hours, which can supplement your salary nicely. In addition to the salary, toolmakers receive competitive benefits packages that can include health insurance, paid time off, and a matching 401K account.
Future Outlook of the Profession
At Bead Electronics, our swaging process requires our tool and dies to be precise so that the components we produce are dimensionally consistent. In the past, we have found success in hiring tool makers, machine operators, and assembly workers by offering competitive pay and comprehensive benefits, as well as reimbursement for safety gear.
Between 2021 and 2031, it is predicted that overall employment for machinists and tool and die makers will vary very little or not at all. There are expected to be, on average, 44,100 openings for machinists and tool and die makers, despite the small expansion in the industry. However, finding toolmakers seems to be getting more and more difficult each year.
At Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant, the number of skilled tool and die makers that were reaching retirement age was higher than the number of replacements coming in to fill their shoes, demonstrating a common problem faced by manufacturers across industries.
That means there are fewer people entering what they may feel is an antiquated field and learning the necessary skills. But ironically, the manufacturing industry is modernizing and becoming more technical—prompting the tool and die-making field to require higher precision and productivity.
Different Certificates a Toolmaker May Earn
As a tool and die maker, your career can head in a varied number of directions. The vastness of the industry allows you to study a varied amount of certificates, which can increase your earning potential and with any other qualification, set you in good stead for the future. Here are some advanced certifications a toolmaker may earn:
Master of Tooling
Three levels of certification are available for machining professionals through the North American Die Casting Association. Each level emphasizes a more complex comprehension of die-casting.
Professionals who want to earn their level one certification must pass an exam and complete an apprenticeship for a specified amount of time. Each certification is valid for three years, and after that, professionals must pass the exam to keep it current.
A nationally recognized curriculum that prepares professionals to work as manufacturing sales engineers is the Certified Machine Tool Sale Engineer certification. Sales engineers promote cutting-edge technology that they have frequently used themselves.
Professionals pass this exam after completing courses, gaining technical knowledge, and taking an exam. With this qualification, tool and die makers are able to assume more responsibility at the office.
Two years of professional experience and passing a three-part exam are requirements for individuals to obtain a Master Engine Machinist credential. Specialists are put to the test on duties like cleaning, inspecting, repairing, and assembling automotive engines in this certification.
Professionals must be able to complete these tasks on both standard and diesel engines to pass this test. In order to maintain the validity of their license, professionals must renew this certification every five years.
The Future of Toolmaking
Despite the competitiveness of the industry and the number of benefits the job has to offer, there are more toolmakers leaving the profession and fewer joining on. At Bead Electronics, in addition to offering a competitive salary and benefits, we have found the following guidelines to be useful in attracting talent:
- Establish relationships with local technical schools
- Provide an open-door policy
- Understand the work/life balance
- Offer opportunities for career development
- Work with your state government on workforce development initiatives
While it may be inevitable that larger corporations, snap up a majority of the local talent, we know that there are advantages to being a part of a tight-knit group of employees like we have at Bead Electronics., not the least of which is adaptability, flexibility, and opportunity for growth.
The number of future opportunities for experienced individuals will be endless. Are you interested in tool-making and machinery? Maybe you are looking for other out-of-the-box employment opportunities? Then head on over to our page and find everything you need to know!