How to Succeed in a Machining Career

A successful machinist with a medical device company offers advice to young people about how to pursue the same rewarding career he enjoys.


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Interest is high in CNC machining as a career path. At least, it is far higher than it once was. I’ve seen this repeatedly in recent facilities I’ve visited. Illinois manufacturing association TMA came close to ending its training efforts altogether in recent years, but now has a newly opened instructional facility seeing surging enrollment. And across the border in Wisconsin, the impressive Moraine Park Technical College has a healthy machining program (to the extent that this institution’s struggle now is to draw students into remaining underserved fields, such as HVAC). In the metalworking industry, outreach efforts aimed at attracting young people seem to have had an impact.

But one thing these outreach efforts often lack is a specific way forward. If a young person becomes interested in machining—say, if a teenager in high school or junior high has this interest—then what should he or she prepare to do to follow this interest and proceed into this career?

I think this document created by Matt Schowalter, who is a machining group lead at Gauthier Biomedical in Grafton, Wisconsin, serves as a useful complement to that outreach. In it, Mr. Schowalter describes his own machining career path and the steps he took, and he advises aspiring machining professionals in the steps they might take to follow a similar path. He created the document entirely out of his enthusiasm for his work and his desire to help others thrive in the same career. The link above is to a PDF download, or find a version he posted on LinkedIn.