InDemand Series: Machinist

For original WHSV article, click here.

Date: September 3, 2019 

WHSV – This week, we’re taking another look at InDemand careers in the Valley. We’re taking you to a plant that helps make books read around the world.

Charles Andrews works as a machinist apprentice at LSC Communications in Rockingham County. He helps maintain the equipment that keeps the plant running.

“Normally, you’ll go out to a press, or in the bindery, something’s broke and then you just have to tear it apart, fix it, troubleshoot,” said Andrews.

The work requires dealing with very exact measurements, down to the thousandths of an inch.

“Math is a very big part. And after you do it for a little bit, it just gets kind of normal,” Andrews said. “At first, it’s kind of like mind-boggling and then it just kind of eases in.”

Andrews transitioned from a production job and is now in the middle of an apprenticeship. He learns from classes and experience on the job. The apprenticeship program sends you to get all the education needed for a state certification as a machinist mechanic or industrial mechanic.

According to economic statistics gathered by the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, the typical salary for machinists is between $32,433 and $55,699. Projected demand is for 325 of these positions over the next 10 years in our region. The positions typically require a high school diploma or equivalent, a post-secondary certificate and on the job training.

“The equipment is going to advance. Technology is going to advance [with] probably more robotics, more automated stuff,” Andrews said. “All that stuff breaks. All of it wears. It’s moving really fast, and it needs to be worked on and repaired.”

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