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Posted: 9/25/2014 6:57:05 PM EDT
I'm getting tired of my current career track and tired of Texas, I need a change on both fronts. I've been looking into getting machinist training, CNC and manual, and I've always been interested in the Pacific Northwest. I recently received a small insurance settlement after an accident I was in a few years ago, so I have a little cushion I can live off for a time while I go to school if I can't find a job immediately.

Any recommendations on a good school? I'd prefer to avoid the Portland area if possible, but I'm open to it if it is the best option.
Link Posted: 9/25/2014 8:14:41 PM EDT
Clackamas Community college has a good one as does Portland community College. I would probably go CCC if you are moving into the area. Lots of inexpensive housing in the area. The PCC program is at the Sylvania campus and its a royal pain to get to IMO and parking can suck. Where as if you can get a place in Oregon City (where CCC is located) you'd be much better off IMO. And if you are going to do it, go through and learn how to run the various CAD programs as well. It will give you more stuff to fall back on. Also, expect to have to buy a some relatively expensive measuring tools and have to sit through a lot of videos and do a lot of self directed learning. PCC is self directed learning so you do a lot of it yourself and at your own pace. Once you are out, jobs around here start at $16/h and go up over $20 with experience. There are some jobs in the portland area so when you are done you have some options. But as someone who is a machinist, I can tell you, when running a CNC mill you do a lot of standing. But as I do everything from design to machining and such, it is rewarding to see stuff coming off the mill finished and looking good. If you have a mind for math and are somewhat creative, it can be a lot of fun.
Link Posted: 9/27/2014 6:23:48 PM EDT
Linn Benton CC in Albany (further from Portland) has a CNC machinist program I think.

The Bend area is great for outdoors. I would also check into Central Oregon CC if you like that sort of lifestyle.
Link Posted: 9/27/2014 6:31:37 PM EDT
All the above suggestions are good, but COCC (Bend) would be the worst area to try to find a job in, with Albany being almost as bad. Clackamas County would most likely be your best bet, with affordable housing close by.
Link Posted: 9/27/2014 6:33:07 PM EDT
Portland might not be the best area to end up doing the work in. The area is flooded with machinists, keeping the pay low.

One of the guys that worked with me just quit, moved to Pheonix and grabbed a job at a nicer shop paying $4/hr more.
I was offered two jobs back home in Michigan paying $2/hr more, and the cost of living is significantly lower.

PCC's program isn't very good. The two guys we have on my shift that did their classes still can't work without assistance, 3 years after getting hired.
Clackamas's program has netted some success though.
Link Posted: 9/27/2014 8:14:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/27/2014 8:15:32 PM EDT by Sortafast]
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Originally Posted By Modly:
PCC's program isn't very good. The two guys we have on my shift that did their classes still can't work without assistance, 3 years after getting hired.
Clackamas's program has netted some success though.
View Quote

You sure thats not because of person not the program? I am self taught as a machinist and CNC machinist and I can tell you it is far from rocket surgery. Good math skills and attention to detail go a long way. Heck I went from manual machinist with no CAD or CNC skills (other than pressing the go button and pulling parts on a friends HAAS GL-2 for a couple days) to designing, drawing, programming and running parts on my cnc mill in less than 2 months. It was a bit steep but now its second nature.
Link Posted: 9/29/2014 12:07:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/29/2014 12:08:54 AM EDT by AHSGA]
I have done service work at the LBCC machine shop and know the head instructor there. The staff genuinely wants to train people for the industry. That being said, it is pretty tough to expect, that after a one year program, that the student is now a machinist. The successful people in this program are the ones the work the hardest and manage to find a local firm to give them a chance. There are many machine shops in the Corvallis/Albany area. I can't tell you about wages but there are a lot of folks out there that started their own shops after the HP downsizing.
Link Posted: 9/29/2014 2:24:04 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Sortafast:
Clackamas Community college has a good one as does Portland community College. I would probably go CCC if you are moving into the area. Lots of inexpensive housing in the area. The PCC program is at the Sylvania campus and its a royal pain to get to IMO and parking can suck. Where as if you can get a place in Oregon City (where CCC is located) you'd be much better off IMO. And if you are going to do it, go through and learn how to run the various CAD programs as well. It will give you more stuff to fall back on. Also, expect to have to buy a some relatively expensive measuring tools and have to sit through a lot of videos and do a lot of self directed learning. PCC is self directed learning so you do a lot of it yourself and at your own pace. Once you are out, jobs around here start at $16/h and go up over $20 with experience. There are some jobs in the portland area so when you are done you have some options. But as someone who is a machinist, I can tell you, when running a CNC mill you do a lot of standing. But as I do everything from design to machining and such, it is rewarding to see stuff coming off the mill finished and looking good. If you have a mind for math and are somewhat creative, it can be a lot of fun.
View Quote

I'd second CCC. I did welding classes there and there shop was excellent. I've heard good things about the machining program too.
Link Posted: 10/1/2014 11:55:08 AM EDT
18 year machinist here. Any program will get you the basics. Just enough to get yourself in trouble. My best advice would be to get a job as a helper in a shop and decide if if you like the trade or not. It's mostly boredom interrupted by moments of pure terror. We've got to recent grads from PCC that are about worthless as a fat girl with no tits. Any reason why school as opposed to just working your way through the trade? If your end goal is to be a regulation machinist then I guess school is an OK start. But if you're looking to push buttons for a living, just go get a job and save yourself some money. Any dummy can push the green button. YMMV and JMHO and all that
Link Posted: 10/1/2014 2:06:50 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By PixieDust:
Any dummy can push the green button. YMMV and JMHO and all that
View Quote

I am living proof.

And yeah, I am pretty much self taught. Its not rocket surgery. If you are creative you can try to get a shop going yourself and specialize in specific things or products. Its more of a gamble, but if you can become your own manufacturer of your own parts and then sell them, there can be quite a bit more money in it. But you also have a lot more risk going that route. You could also go and learn gunsmithing. That is a noble and often unappreciated art. It takes a while to get going, but if you are good or specialize in one area, there can be some $$ to be made. There is a lot of machining, mechanics, wood working and some art involved. I know a guy that went through a gunsmithing school in CO or somewhere like that and when he was done he started up his own shop and has been completely buried with work ever since. Something to think about. You could also look at fabrication, mechanical engineering, CAD design and many other things. Get good at a couple of them and you can be a big asset to a niche shop and have a lot of enjoyment with your job. Its all about figuring out what you want and what you enjoy.
Link Posted: 10/1/2014 3:11:18 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Sortafast:

I am living proof.

And yeah, I am pretty much self taught. Its not rocket surgery. If you are creative you can try to get a shop going yourself and specialize in specific things or products. Its more of a gamble, but if you can become your own manufacturer of your own parts and then sell them, there can be quite a bit more money in it. But you also have a lot more risk going that route. You could also go and learn gunsmithing. That is a noble and often unappreciated art. It takes a while to get going, but if you are good or specialize in one area, there can be some $$ to be made. There is a lot of machining, mechanics, wood working and some art involved. I know a guy that went through a gunsmithing school in CO or somewhere like that and when he was done he started up his own shop and has been completely buried with work ever since. Something to think about. You could also look at fabrication, mechanical engineering, CAD design and many other things. Get good at a couple of them and you can be a big asset to a niche shop and have a lot of enjoyment with your job. Its all about figuring out what you want and what you enjoy.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Sortafast:
Originally Posted By PixieDust:
Any dummy can push the green button. YMMV and JMHO and all that

I am living proof.

And yeah, I am pretty much self taught. Its not rocket surgery. If you are creative you can try to get a shop going yourself and specialize in specific things or products. Its more of a gamble, but if you can become your own manufacturer of your own parts and then sell them, there can be quite a bit more money in it. But you also have a lot more risk going that route. You could also go and learn gunsmithing. That is a noble and often unappreciated art. It takes a while to get going, but if you are good or specialize in one area, there can be some $$ to be made. There is a lot of machining, mechanics, wood working and some art involved. I know a guy that went through a gunsmithing school in CO or somewhere like that and when he was done he started up his own shop and has been completely buried with work ever since. Something to think about. You could also look at fabrication, mechanical engineering, CAD design and many other things. Get good at a couple of them and you can be a big asset to a niche shop and have a lot of enjoyment with your job. Its all about figuring out what you want and what you enjoy.

I'll agree with most of this. Although, IMO I'd settle for a guy that was good at a lot of things, too much specialization gets ya in a pigeon hole. As for Portland being overflowing with machinists, I disagree, we can't find a decent machinists to save our lives. Now button pushers on the other hand.......:
Link Posted: 10/1/2014 7:38:30 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Sortafast:

You sure thats not because of person not the program? I am self taught as a machinist and CNC machinist and I can tell you it is far from rocket surgery. Good math skills and attention to detail go a long way. Heck I went from manual machinist with no CAD or CNC skills (other than pressing the go button and pulling parts on a friends HAAS GL-2 for a couple days) to designing, drawing, programming and running parts on my cnc mill in less than 2 months. It was a bit steep but now its second nature.
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Originally Posted By Sortafast:
Originally Posted By Modly:
PCC's program isn't very good. The two guys we have on my shift that did their classes still can't work without assistance, 3 years after getting hired.
Clackamas's program has netted some success though.

You sure thats not because of person not the program? I am self taught as a machinist and CNC machinist and I can tell you it is far from rocket surgery. Good math skills and attention to detail go a long way. Heck I went from manual machinist with no CAD or CNC skills (other than pressing the go button and pulling parts on a friends HAAS GL-2 for a couple days) to designing, drawing, programming and running parts on my cnc mill in less than 2 months. It was a bit steep but now its second nature.


It very well could be the people that just hoped they could get into the field without comprehension or the ability to retain information. When I was trying to train them, they kept pulling out notes from class though, and none of it made any sense.

CNC was the easier side to learn. I was doing manual machine stuff for years then I got to a shop that had both. I stayed late 3-4 days a week and watched swing shift set machines up, took programs home to learn G/M, and within a month I was starting to do it on my own.

I think the real trick is that some people don't have the number skills necessary to get into this stuff.
Link Posted: 10/1/2014 8:27:59 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Modly:



I think the real trick is that some people don't have the number skills necessary to get into this stuff.
View Quote View All Quotes
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Modly:
Originally Posted By Sortafast:
Originally Posted By Modly:
PCC's program isn't very good. The two guys we have on my shift that did their classes still can't work without assistance, 3 years after getting hired.
Clackamas's program has netted some success though.

You sure thats not because of person not the program? I am self taught as a machinist and CNC machinist and I can tell you it is far from rocket surgery. Good math skills and attention to detail go a long way. Heck I went from manual machinist with no CAD or CNC skills (other than pressing the go button and pulling parts on a friends HAAS GL-2 for a couple days) to designing, drawing, programming and running parts on my cnc mill in less than 2 months. It was a bit steep but now its second nature.



I think the real trick is that some people don't have the number skills necessary to get into this stuff.
It's not just the numbers that are the problem. Critical thinking skills seem to be lacking in a lot of folks. Thats not really something you can teach someone in my experience. If a person can't understand that A+B+C= finished part, there isn't much i can do for them. That's kind of why i always tell folks to get a helper job before they spend money on tuition.
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