Precision Die Caster Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a precision die caster technician career? Get real job description, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a precision die caster is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of Being a Precision Die Caster Technician

The tasks carried out by a precision die caster technician overlap with those of both metal and plastic machine workers, as well as machinists and tool and die makers. Read about the pros and cons of a career as a precision die caster technician to see if it would be the right choice for you.

Pros of Being a Precision Die Caster Technician
May find employment with only vocational or on-the-job training*
Training programs may offer apprenticeships*
Advancement opportunities with experience*
Offers employment in various similar fields*

Cons of Being a Precision Die Caster Technician
Certain machine tools may present hazards*
Slower-than-average job growth from 2012-2022 (-6% for metal and plastic machine workers, 7% for machinists and tool and die makers)*
Machinists work can lead to discomfort from spending a great deal of time standing*
Work hours may include evenings, weekends or holidays*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

A precision die caster technician sets up, operates and sometimes tears down the mechanical or CNC machine, which could be used to die cast a part. They may use blueprints, computer-aided design (CAD) files or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files. Duties also include installing and aligning the tools in the machine, monitoring the machine's speed and watching for malfunctions. Using precision instruments, the technicians measure the finished part to ensure they meet the blueprint specifications. If not, they may file, grind, polish or shave off excess material or adjust the machine and remake the part if need be. Knowledge of gauges and meters is important so they can ensure the pressure, temperatures and cycles are correct. Precision die caster technicians often consult with other technicians or engineers regarding specifications.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers machinists and tool and die makers a separate career from metal and plastic machine workers, they perform very similar job duties and both may take on the responsibilities typically carried out by a precision die caster technician. Machinists and tool and die makers are qualified to work with CNC and manual machines. They may also have a slightly more direct role in the proper operation of the machinery; for example, according to the BLS, they might make needed precision-related adjustments to machinery cutting tools while metal and plastic machine workers might just adjust machine settings. They may also have a role in manufacturing a wider variety of items that goes beyond parts to include instruments and tools. Meanwhile, metal and plastic machine workers work with various machine types, including CNC machines, to manufacture parts.

Job Growth

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't maintain specific employment information for precision die caster technicians, they do collect information on similar workers. The BLS predicted that machinists and tool and die makers would see an employment growth of seven percent between 2012 and 2022. Metal and plastic machine workers were predicted to experience a decline of six percent for that same decade. A major factor for the sluggish job growth is the increasing use of computer-aided machines and robots. The BLS stated that despite the slow employment growth, job opportunities should still be good because an aging workforce will eventually retire, leaving vacancies for new workers, particularly for those with a strong background in machining and certifications from industry associations.

Salary

Wages for this type of career vary by job title, location and job specifications, but you can get a general idea of salaries from the BLS. According to a May 2014 BLS report, tool and die makers earned a mean annual wage of $50,090, while machinists earned a mean annual salary of $41,540. Computer-controlled metal and plastic machine tool operators earned a mean annual salary of $37,920.

What Are the Requirements?

While you can take college classes or certificate programs to prepare for a metal or plastic machine worker job, it's not generally required. In fact, according to the BLS, many employers don't require a high school diploma at all, although some prefer it. You can usually master the job duties through on-the-job training. You can get a job as a machinist through an apprenticeship or prepare by enrolling in a postsecondary college or vocational school training program, although you still need a few years of experience in order to learn everything you need to know.

To be successful in this line of work, you should have good math, computer and problem-solving skills. In high school, you can take computer, math, metalworking or drafting classes to prepare. If you decide to enroll in a postsecondary training program, you could earn a diploma, certificate or associate's degree. Your course load will generally include theoretical classroom studies, hands-on lab studies and sometimes internships. Course topics may include die casting lubricants and coolants, dimensional repeatability and die casting defects. You could also learn CNC setup, precision molding and die tooling, precision measuring, machining and inspecting, blueprint reading, cutting tool technology and tooling design.

Top Skills for Precision Die Caster Technicians

In addition to training or work experience, there are several key qualities that employers generally prefer to see when hiring candidates for jobs like precision die caster technician. These qualities include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Attention to detail
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Excellent coordination
  • Good communication skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

Because a precision die caster technician's duties can be part of other similar careers, you may find job postings with a variety of different job titles. Although education and training requirements typically vary by company and location, here are some samples of related job postings open in April 2012.

  • A New York manufacturing company is seeking an experienced mold maker to work in its Pennsylvania location. The applicant should be an apprentice graduate or possess five years' experience in molding, and should be proficient in CAD/CAM software, 3-D modeling and SolidWorks. The successful applicant will maintain machine components of jigs, dies, fixtures, molds, prototypes and other tools using CAD drawings, sketches or models. Knowledge of precision practices, hand tools and materials used in the fabrication of tools, molds and prototypes is important. The candidate should have a high school diploma or a GED plus experience in CAD/CAM and the ability to read tool drawings and blueprints, selecting the correct materials based on the process (welding, machining, heat-treating, etc.).
  • A Nashville automotive manufacturing company is seeking a tool and die technician with at least five years' experience in tool and die making or maintenance. Completion of a tool and die apprenticeship may be considered instead of work experience. Responsibilities include using shop processes, such as welding, hand air grinding and machining, to maintain large cast iron die. The applicant must submit to a criminal background check and must attend unpaid pre-employment training on the nights and weekends to qualify for this full-time position. Candidates with experience in die making and CNC machining are preferred.
  • A large aerospace company in Arizona is seeking an experienced manual machinist to operate mills, lathes, drill presses, grinders, hones and various CNC machines. Using blueprints, the candidate will set up and operate the machinery and operate horizontal and vertical saws, while also training other employees when needed. The applicant must have experience working with stainless steel and aluminum and at least five years of recent relevant experience. Applicants should also be able to stand for long periods and lift up to 50 lbs.

How to Stand Out

Certification

Professional certifications may improve your job opportunities with potential employers. State apprenticeship boards may offer journey-level certification for candidates who have completed an apprenticeship. You may also qualify to earn one of several specialized certifications offered by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

Apprenticeships

Some training programs offer apprenticeships and employee-in-training programs to assist students in obtaining work experience while they learn. An apprenticeship provides you with on-the-job training, classroom studies and lab studies. Upon completion, you may receive a certificate of completion of apprenticeship from the school.

Alternative Career Paths

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

If maintaining a machine sounds more interesting than operating it, you may enjoy a career as a industrial machinery mechanic or maintenance worker. These professionals maintain and repair industrial and factory equipment and machinery. Although you may be able to find a job like this with just a high school diploma and some training, most employers prefer someone with formal education in areas like mechanical drawing, math, computer programming and electronics.

Pre-employment preparation can range from postsecondary courses up to a 2-year associate's degree program. On-the-job training is also sometimes possible. The BLS predicted these workers would see an employment growth rate of 19% between 2010 and 2020. Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers earned a mean annual wage of around $48,000 in 2011.

Drafter

A career as a drafter may be a good fit if you enjoy working on a computer, want to work in an office setting and like to create new things. Drafters take architects' or engineers' rough sketches and drawings and turn them into full-scale designs or blueprints using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.

The BLS reported that drafters could expect an employment growth rate of only six percent between 2010 and 2020. You can become a drafter by completing a certificate or diploma program, although the BLS reported that many employers prefer candidates with an associate's degree. Despite the below-average job growth rate drafters might experience, drafting is used in many industries, such as engineering, architecture and manufacturing. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that drafters earned a mean annual wage of around $48,000.

Popular Schools

  • Campus Locations:
    1. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Welding Technology
      • Welding Technology
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Southern Careers Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Welding
      • Welding
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Welding Technology
      • Welding Technology
  • Milwaukee, WI

    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Pewaukee, WI

    Waukesha County Technical College

  • Vincennes, IN

    Vincennes University

  • Fremont, OH

    Terra State Community College

  • Dowagiac, MI

    Southwestern Michigan College

  • Big Rapids, MI

    Ferris State University

  • McAllen, TX

    South Texas College

Featured Schools

Lincoln Tech

  • Welding Technology

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

Southern Careers Institute

  • Welding

What is your highest level of education completed?

Fortis College

  • Welding Technology

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Waukesha County Technical College

Vincennes University

Terra State Community College

Southwestern Michigan College