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Career and Education Opportunities for Tool and Die Makers in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for tool and die makers. There are currently 7,310 working tool and die makers in Illinois; this should shrink by 10% to about 6,570 working tool and die makers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for tool and die makers are expected to shrink by about 8.0%. Tool and die makers generally analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, and machinists' hand tools.

Income for tool and die makers is about $23 hourly or $47,980 yearly on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $22 per hour or $46,430 yearly. Earnings for tool and die makers are better than earnings in the general category of Foundry and Metal Work in Illinois and better than general Foundry and Metal Work category earnings nationally.

The Chicago area is home to 180 schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree as a tool and die maker. The most common level of education for tool and die makers is a post-secondary certificate. You can expect to spend a short time training to become a tool and die maker if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Tool and Die Maker

Tool and Die Maker video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, tool and die makers analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, and machinists' hand tools.

Tool and die makers lift and secure machined components on surface plates or worktables, using hoists, vises, v-blocks, or angle plates. They also fit and assemble components to make or modify dies, jigs and tools, using machine tools and hand tools. Equally important, tool and die makers have to file and adjust different components to properly fit them together. They are often called upon to study blueprints or specifications to develop sequences of operations for fabricating tools or assemblies. They are expected to verify dimensions and clearances of finished components for conformance to given requirements, using measuring instruments such as calipers and dial indicators. Finally, tool and die makers decide on metals to be used from a range of metals and alloys, on the basis of properties such as hardness and heat tolerance.

Every day, tool and die makers are expected to be able to organize information in a variety of ways. They need to maintain precise control of objects and devices through a range of movements. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for tool and die makers to inspect finished dies for smoothness and defects. They are often called upon to prepare and operate conventional or computer numerically controlled machine tools such as lathes and grinders to cut or otherwise shape components to prescribed dimensions and finishes. They also conduct test runs with completed tools or dies to insure that components meet specifications, making adjustments as needed. They are sometimes expected to set pyrometer controls of heat-treating furnaces and feed or place components, tools, or assemblies into furnaces to harden. Somewhat less frequently, tool and die makers are also expected to verify dimensions and clearances of finished components for conformance to given requirements, using measuring instruments such as calipers and dial indicators.

and decide on metals to be used from a range of metals and alloys, on the basis of properties such as hardness and heat tolerance. And finally, they sometimes have to measure and scribe metal or plastic stock to lay out machining, using instruments such as protractors and rulers.

Like many other jobs, tool and die makers must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Aircraft Parts Assembler. Assemble, fit, and install parts of airplanes, space vehicles, or missiles, such as tails, wings, fuselage, bulkheads, stabilizers, landing gear, rigging and control equipment, or heating and ventilating systems.
  • Buffing Machine Operator. Set up, operate, or tend grinding and related tools that remove excess material or burrs from surfaces, sharpen edges or corners, or buff, hone, or polish metal or plastic work pieces.
  • Heat Treating Equipment Operator. Set up, operate, or tend heating equipment, such as heat-treating furnaces, flame-hardening machines, induction machines, or vacuum equipment to temper, harden, or heat-treat metal or plastic objects.
  • Layout Technician. Lay out reference points and dimensions on metal or plastic stock or workpieces, such as sheets, plates, or machine parts, for further processing. Includes shipfitters.
  • Mold Machine Operator. Set up, operate, or tend metal or plastic molding, casting, or coremaking machines to mold or cast metal or thermoplastic parts or products.
  • Printing Press Machine Operator. Set up or operate various types of printing machines, such as offset, letterset, or gravure presses or screen printers to produce print on paper or other materials.
  • Solderer. Braze or solder together components to assemble fabricated metal parts, using soldering iron, torch, or welding machine and flux.
  • Welder. Use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.
  • Welding Operator. Set up, operate, or tend welding, soldering, or brazing machines or robots that weld, braze, or heat treat metal products, components, or assemblies.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Tool and Die Maker Training

Prairie State College - Chicago Heights, IL

Prairie State College, 202 South Halsted Street, Chicago Heights, IL 60411-8226. Prairie State College is a medium sized college located in Chicago Heights, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,368 students. Prairie State College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Tool and Die Technology/Technician which graduated two and three students respectively in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.