These workers stand at the pyramid of experience and skill within the manufacturing industry. As a tool and dye maker, this individual is responsible to construct and make repairs to the following items: dyes, tools, holding and guiding devices for machinery. In their job, tool and dye makers may work for a company that needs tools produced for the business itself or makes tools that other manufacturers need. Toolmakers create highly precise tools and machinery that shape, form or metal and various other materials. They’re also responsible for making gauges, devices to measure with, gigs and fixtures. As a dye maker, the individual makes molds and dyes that are used for shaping and stamping metal.
Another aspect of this job is working as a part of a team. The team may be made up of this individual, engineers and other workers who make a mockup of a particular part and then determine the most efficient method to construct it. Additional duties may include maintenance and repair of the various tools, jigs, gauges and other items they wear down over time or have become damaged. This worker uses a number of various machine tools along with instruments for measuring and high level of precision.
Having knowledge of the properties of machining and how various materials tolerate heat is required, along with skills in math and reading blueprints. They also make use of computer technology, such as computer aided design, CAD, or computer aided manufacturing, CAM, to design and create instructions for the manufacture of tools. They also test and inspect the tools that are created to make sure that they are true to the original design and function properly. Having excellent communication skills and the ability to problem solve are essential.
Tool and Dye Maker Training and Education Requirements
The training and/or apprenticeship program required to become a tool and dye maker takes approximately 4 to 5 years. This training can be done through a technology school or community college program, which do provide a mix of hands-on training with academic instruction. To prepare to enter a program for this field, a high school student needs to take classes in math and physics. Apprenticeship programs often involve the individuals taking night classes while working full time. The trainee will learn such skills as how to use lathes, cutting machines, grinders and how to use hand tools to assemble the item being manufactured. A class or more goes into subjects such as specific computer programs, algebra, blueprint reading and more advanced mathematics. After training, it can take several years of experience to reach a highly skilled level. As they advance through a program, the individual must pass a series of skill tests in order to go to each new level.
Apprentices, to enter the program, have to be a minimum of 18 years old and have a high school diploma along with the appropriate math related classes. The individual must also keep current on new technology, have a keen ability to concentrate, be precise and intelligent. They must also have a desire to continually learn throughout their career. This is a necessity as improvements in machinery and computer software are made on a constant basis.
Tool and Dye Maker Salary and Wages
According to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field has an anticipated decline in job growth by 8% by 2018. The beginning hourly wage for a tool and dye worker is approximately $22.32. The highest paid workers earn at or below $34.76, with the lowest earnings per hour at or below $14.69. Apprentices are paid according to the level of skill that they have achieved in their program. Many of these workers can improve their pay by belonging to a union. With many older workers retiring, new positions will come open. Also, as the techniques of production processes are changed, these workers will still be in high demand in order to retool equipment. They are also very essential for tasks related to the maintenance and construction of manufacturing equipment that is automated and complex.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Tool and Dye Maker Certifications
Those entering this field through an apprenticeship are certified as a journey worker by the state apprenticeship board once they have completed their program. This is not a required license, but can make a worker much more employable. Workers can also pursue advanced degrees in further training to enhance their skill level and move up in the field.
Tool and Dye Maker Professional Associations
The Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, located in Rockford, Illinois, was started in 1970. It provides councils on technology for members, events where members can meet in educational programs improve skill levels and knowledge. The current membership includes workers in the US, Canada and 40 different countries overseas.