California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Tool and Die Makers in California

May also be called: Bench Stamping Die Makers; Bench Tool Makers; Die Casting and Plastic Molding Mold Makers; Die Finishers; Die Sinkers; Plastic Fixture Builders; Plastic Tool Makers; Saw Makers; Stamping Die Makers; Tap and Die Maker Technicians; Tool and Die Machinists; Tool Makers; Trim Die Makers; Wire Drawing Die Makers

What Would I Do?

Almost everything people touch on a daily basis has been created by metal forming—cars, doorknobs, razor blades, paper clips, shovels, beds, skateboards, and musical instruments are just a few examples. Tool and die making is fundamental to the manufacturing process. Tool and Die Makers set up and operate the tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, and gauges used in mass production machines to manufacture identical parts made of metal or combinations of metal and other materials. Although Tool and Die Makers use common tools and techniques, the resulting products differ. Tool Makers use machine tools to make jigs and fixtures that hold metal parts being shaved, stamped, or drilled. Die Makers craft metal forms, or dies, that shape metal in stamping and forging operations.

Most Tool and Die Makers work either in large manufacturing plants or in contract shops that specialize in making tools and dies. Work spaces are relatively pleasant and generally quieter and cleaner than production machine shops. Companies employing Tool and Die Makers traditionally operate only one shift per day. Overtime and weekend work are common, especially during peak production periods.

Will This Job Fit Me?

Tool and die making will appeal to those who enjoy solving practical, hands-on problems, working on their own, and making decisions. Tool and Die Makers need extreme patience and attention to detail since they must create a product that will meet strict specifications—commonly within one ten-thousandth of an inch.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2017 for Tool and Die Makers in California was $52,867 annually, or $25.41 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2017Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Employer benefits typically offered include medical and dental, retirement plans, sick leave, and vacation.

What is the Job Outlook?

While the growth rate has slowed, manufacturers continue to experience a shortage of both qualified experienced and inexperienced Tool and Die Makers despite the use of more efficient numerically controlled machine tools and the increased importation of finished goods and precision metal products.

How Do I Qualify?

Tool and Die Makers undergo extensive training in one or a combination of the following paths: formal apprenticeship, vocational school, or on-the-job training. Many community colleges offer manufacturing technology and machine shop certificates or degrees. On-the-job training is generally not as thorough and may take longer than an apprenticeship program, as there is no formally planned schedule of work experience and related training.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Community colleges offer job search assistance to graduates of degree or certificate programs in tool and die making or machining. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide sources for job listings. Unions representing Tool and Die Makers can provide job opportunities as well. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Tool and Die Makers