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A fitter machinist is a person who creates parts for machines, and in many cases, builds the machine itself. Metal fabrication is a major component of the fitter machinist job, so a candidate for this position will need to have basic to moderate math and science skills, as well as basic communication skills. The machinist will need to be able to read blueprints and other plans accurately as well. A high school education is usually necessary, and post-secondary education may be necessary as well in the form of a professional certificate or a degree.
Sometimes a degree is not necessary; instead, a person interested in becoming a fitter machinist can apply for an apprenticeship with a local union or private company. This apprenticeship can last anywhere from one to five years, during which time the new fitter machinist will learn all the necessary skills to perform the job properly. He or she will work under the guidance and supervision of a more experienced machinist, and during the apprenticeship period, the apprentice will earn all relevant certifications or clearances. Certain types of coursework may be included with the apprenticeship period as well; computer numeric control (CNC) programs are often used in machining, so the apprentice will need to learn how to use CNC programs as well as computer aided drafting, or CAD, programs in some industries.
Math skills are necessary to become a fitter machinist because the parts being manufactured must be built to very tight specifications. Math skills will help the fitter machinist perform calculations and make adjustments to computer programs as necessary. Once the parts are created, the machinist may need to construct the machine to ensure it works properly. Adjustments can be made to the design if certain parts do not work properly; the fitter machinist is likely to work with an equipment designer on this step, as the machinist may not be directly responsible for the design of a machine in the first place.
The machines used to create parts will need to be assembled and maintained. Fitter machinists will usually be responsible for this set-up and maintenance, and in many cases, in-depth repairs to the machines may be performed by fitter machinists. Specific maintenance personnel may be on hand to perform repairs and maintenance at larger companies, though the machinists are often trained or otherwise skilled in machine repair. Troubleshooting and identifying potential problems with the machine will be done by machinists.