What does a grinder do?

While automation has replaced some activities in manufacturing plants, humans still operate and repair many machines like CNC lathes, cam grinders, and bearing grinder machines. Your day-to-day work won't vary much while working as a grinder, but within each day, you will have a diverse set of duties.

In general, you'll set up the grinders and operate them. You'll also repair them. A person working in a grinder role creates original parts for machines owned by clients outside of the manufacturing plant. This requires welding knowledge. An engineer provides the grinder with specifications and designs. These renderings of the part provide a graphic representation of how to create it, much like a set of architecture blueprints provides a builder with the design for a home or commercial structure. The engineer creates the plans a grinder follows using the same drafting process as an architect.

A grinder must remain up to date on ANCA off-line simulation. The individual must own and wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE).

Manufacturing work: More than button pushing

The machine operators or grinders in these positions work from engineering schematics to create original parts or repair existing parts. These parts typically fit machines made in small quantities or bespoke designed (unique) machinery. The position requires an understanding of engineering and design, analytical skills, artistic talent, strong math skills, and attention to detail.


View jobs

What is the average salary of a grinder?

As a grinder, your pay will vary depending on job type, experience, and location. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), grinders earn a median pay rate of $21 an hour, which means they earn a median annual salary of $41,410. An average entry-level grinder makes about $19.42 an hour. One sub-position of this job, tool grinder, earns less to start. A tool grinder earns an entry-level hourly wage of $12.92, according to the BLS.

Bonuses and overtime opportunities

Grinder operators can earn more money from the outset through signing bonuses and overtime. Some companies offer technical workers signing bonuses. You can volunteer for overtime to earn extra money. You earn time-and-a-half when working overtime, so you would earn your hourly pay plus half of the hourly rate.



Working as a grinder

Because the position performs work required by many industries and requires a unique skill set, being a grinder offers stable work. Increasing automation and artificial intelligence technology require grinders/machine operators with technical backgrounds who can repair machinery on the spot. Any manufacturing plant, whether it uses ultra-modern equipment or manual equipment operated by a human, needs grinders to fashion parts and make repairs.

What are the responsibilities of a grinder?

As a grinder, your responsibilities are tied to the specific job and situation. However, most positions involve a few common operating tasks, including:

  • Set up and run various grinder types, including cam grinders, surface grinders, and bearing grinders, as well as machine carbide, harden stainless steel, harden tool steel, and ceramic.
  • Grind keyway and cylindrical broaches.
  • Produce parts in a foundry.
  • Conduct maintenance.
  • Perform spot welding and tack welding.
  • Remain familiar with current ISO 14001 and QS 9000 requirements and recommendations and undergo continuing education on both.
  • Act as technical advisor on ISO 14001 and QS 9000 oversight committee.
  • Assemble/disassemble insert blade cutters, helical broach bars, pot broaches, etc.

Use MIG and TIG welding machines to repair seams and cracks to weld materials; fill holes and indentations on the same.

What type of equipment do grinders use?

The typical manufacturing plant contains a few types of grinders. These include:

  • Cam grinders
  • Surface grinders
  • Bearing grinders
  • Machine carbide, stainless steel, and steel grinders
  • Ceramic grinders

What is the work environment of a grinder?

As a grinder, your work environment depends on your employer. While manufacturing offers most of the grinder positions, other industries use this position, too. You could work in a sawmill, wood preservation firm, commercial and industrial machinery firm, an automotive factory, manufacturing plant, metalworking firm, personal or household goods repair shop, or an aerospace and aeronautical facility. You can choose your specialty when you work as a grinder operator.

Who are your colleagues as a grinder?

As a grinder, you'll work with four main positions as colleagues. These include mechanical engineers, manufacturing engineers, quality managers, and quality inspectors. The two engineering positions design the parts of the grinder fashions as well as draft the schematics used to communicate the design. The two quality managers check the work to ensure the die-cut tooled piece matches the design and product specifications.

What is the work schedule of a grinder?

Work schedules for grinders vary, but you typically work an eight-hour shift on a full-time basis. If a plant runs 24 hours per day, it will typically use a three-shift system, so you could work during the business day or overnight (first, second, or third shift).

Shift considerations

Many employers will allow you to choose your own shift or will work around your schedule, such as if you attend college while you work. You can request the shift you want, but it is up to your employer whether to schedule you then. They may already have that shift full. Some of these positions may offer hybrid work schedules or remote positions.


What is the career outlook for a grinder?

According to BLS projections, grinder jobs will decrease by about 2% through 2030. This number refers to full-time jobs using the typical hiring process. Many employers started hiring independent contractors and temporary employees through staffing services. The BLS figures do not include independent contractors or full-time positions.

Take advantage of training opportunities

While grinder jobs are secure for the foreseeable future, as manufacturing technologies advance, you can improve your career opportunities by learning emerging technologies in the field, such as automated machinery and remote operation of cutting machines. You should take advantage of courses offered by a local college, your employer, or associations in the manufacturing and engineering space. If you have the inclination to learn advanced technology, you can get certified in high-tech mechanics. When future AI opportunities arise, you will have the necessary skills to increase your work options.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a grinder?

Spherion makes it easy for you to find the top grinder operator jobs. Some of the advantages of working with Spherion to find your next job include:

  • Weekly pay
  • Flexibility with shifts ranging from full time to overtime or fill-in shifts
  • Convenience of an on-call point person who helps find jobs and serves as an advocate when you need assistance
  • Valuable training opportunities for workers
  • The ability to search for grinder operator jobs with multiple companies in your area
  • Working with a contact person to get help as you apply for jobs and once you go to work.

What education and skills do you need as a grinder?

You'll need a high school diploma or a General Education Development diploma (GED) and a post-secondary education in operating CNC machines. Following graduation, you'll complete an apprenticeship.

Skills & competencies

To excel as a grinder/machine operator, you need precision, careful attention to detail, impeccable spatial recognition, the ability to read and understand complex engineering schematics and plans, as well as hand-eye coordination.

OSHA training and certification

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets up welfare rules for the workplace that are essential for warehouses and construction sites. As a grinder, you often work in dangerous environments, which means that OSHA certification is a requirement. If you're interested in working as a grinder, sign up for and complete an OSHA-approved training program that covers such things as safety tips, OSHA rules, and grinder maintenance. Your employer will usually sponsor these types of programs.



Grinders run and repair CNC lathes, cam grinders, and bearing grinder machines. Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a grinder operator below. 

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.