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

There are many career and education opportunities for tool and die makers in the Elgin, Illinois area. About 7,310 people are currently employed as tool and die makers in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to shrink by 10% to about 6,570 people employed. 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.

A person working as a tool and die maker can expect to earn about $23 hourly or $47,980 annually on average in Illinois and about $22 per hour or $46,430 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. 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.

There are sixty-one schools of higher education in the Elgin area, including one within twenty-five miles of Elgin where you can get a degree to start your career as a tool and die maker. Given that the most common education level for tool and die makers is a post-secondary certificate, you can expect to spend a short time studying to be 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 Elgin 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

Elgin Community College - Elgin, IL

Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, IL 60123-7193. Elgin Community College is a medium sized college located in Elgin, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,821 students. Elgin Community College has a less than one year program in Tool and Die Technology/Technician which graduated two students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Elgin, Illinois

Elgin, Illinois
Elgin, Illinois photo by James Jordan

Elgin is located in Kane County, Illinois. It has a population of over 106,330, which has grown by 12.5% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Elgin, 104, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Elgin cost $156,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-two new homes were constructed in Elgin, down from seven hundred fifty-six the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Elgin are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, metal and metal products, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average travel time to work is about 26 minutes. More than 20.5% of Elgin residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.0%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Elgin is 12.4%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Elgin residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 56.0%, is more than both the national and state average. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Saint Thomas More Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Elgin. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Elgin is home to the Fox Bluff Corporate Center and the Elgin Fire Station Number 2 as well as Wing Park and College Park. Shopping malls in the area include Wing Park Manor Shopping Center, Tyler Creek Plaza Shopping Center and Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Elgin can choose from Elgin-Days Inn, Colonial Lodge Motel and Crowne Plaza for temporary stays in the area.