Prototype Machinist

Envision and build metal parts for machines that don't exist yet.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$24,000 – $58,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Prototype Machinists do?

A Prototype Machinist creates, manages, and maintains the machinery that’s used to manufacture models and prototypes — of new products as well as their individual pieces and parts — in limited quantities.

When you think of manufacturing, you probably picture a massive assembly line with a conveyor belt that snakes its way through a series of machines, spitting out dozens of widgets every minute, and hundreds — maybe even thousands — every day. Before things can be manufactured en masse, however, they must be manufactured in limited “test” quantities.

Think about Thomas Edison, for instance. When he invented the light bulb, he didn’t make a million light bulbs. He probably made and remade just one, testing and perfecting it until it was exactly what he wanted.

As a Prototype Machinist, you’re a Builder, just like most Machinists. Before production, you’re given manufacturing specifications and plans, which you use to design and then physically fashion — typically out of metal — the machine parts necessary for manufacturing. Using your machine parts, raw materials like metal, plastic, and wood are processed and — through a series of steps that you supervise — trimmed, cut, molded, and ground into the final product.

Essentially, your responsibility as a Prototype Machinist is to select the right tools, processes, and designs for creating things based on their unique shape, size, and composition. You’re therefore a Carpenter — except that you use metal instead of wood.

So, what separates you from a traditional Machinist? It’s quantity, not quality. While most Machinists design machine parts that make hundreds of widgets, you design machine parts that will likely make only a few.


Should I be a Prototype Machinist?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Precision Machine Operator

    How to become a Prototype Machinist

    Most Prototype Machinists have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9weaaa&chl=no+college+%2854%25%29|certificate+%2842%25%29|associate%27s+%284%25%29|||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,54,54
    Schools close to
         
     




    You May Also Like




    Careers Similar to Prototype Machinist