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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a number of questions we're often asked about careers in mold making with a few answers from some of our members.

The American Mold Builders Association is the leading association for moldmakers, providing education, networking, cost savings programs and benchmarking data to boost company effectiveness and profit margins.


Why did you choose this career?

  • Family members were in the trade and my Dad recommended it.

  • Dad was a machinist and his Dad was a machinist. I enjoyed working with my hands and my high school metals teacher got me my first job in the industry.

How long have you been working in this field?

  • Since high school graduation.

  • Started in my senior year of high school

Are there different type of jobs in your field of work?

  • Yes, mostly high tech.

  • Engineering, design, research & development, project manager, CNC programmer, machine operator, etc.

What level of education is required for this career?

  • High school diploma.

  • Many or most of us get at least a 2-year technical degree or a 4-year apprenticeship program. In most cases we work and get paid a good salary during that education.

  • In many cases, the company will pay for advanced degrees, like Bachelor's in Engineering, or business degrees if they’re related to the job.

What type of courses did you have to take?

  • Math, drafting, CAD, and machine shop.

  • Apprenticeship courses including basic shop math, machine shop theory, safety.

What are the most important skills and abilities required?

  • Good attitude and work ethic.

  • A willingness to learn from others

  • Mechanical aptitude, computer skills, and the ability to focus really help.

Is specialized or technical training needed?

  • A two-year technical college program can be a great start. Machine technology or engineering-related is a great place to start.

  • Most technical training will be part of the on-the-job apprenticeship program. A good foundation in math, shop and drafting (computer programming), will be helpful.

What do you like best about your job/career?

  • I like to work with my hands and have the sense of accomplishment.

  • My job is never boring. Always challenging work, great job security with a comfortable income.

  • I love the technologies we use today - CAD, CAM, CNC are all advanced technology that is continuing to evolve. I love working on things in the computer and then seeing them take shape in the machine.

  • I love seeing products that I helped develop or make the tooling for on a store shelf.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

  • Project management, planning the flow of manufacturing the product completion on time or earlier and within budget.

  • The multi-tasking is a challenge. There are many aspects to building a mold, so numerous things are going on at once. It’s always interesting!

What is the starting salary?

  • Generally 50% of the average of lead mold maker at most companies. There are no set wage guidelines in the industry. It is a generally accepted practice to increase wages every 6 months during an apprenticeship should the apprentice demonstrate improvement in skills.

  • Starting in the trade with little to no experience, pay is normally $11-$12 per hour, increasing to about $16 per hour with a two-year degree. The range goes to $25-$30 per hour or more with 10 years experience. A good mold maker with a 4-year apprenticeship and experience can often make $80,000 or more. There is endless opportunity for a challenging career with great pay if you apply yourself.

How many hours do you work in a typical week?

  • Moldmakers enjoy a lot of flexibilities in their hours. Normally they can work as much as they'd like.

  • The “norm” in the trade when employed in a typical job shop is 10 hours per day 5 days per week, here in the Chicago metro area.

What are some related jobs?

  • Computer assisted design (CAD), Computer assisted machining (CAM), molding technician, metallurgist, sales of tool room supplies and machines, sales of special software for manufacturing to name a few.

Are there any summer opportunities for high school students?

  • Mold manufacturers often have openings for high school aged students to help with odd jobs around the plant. This gives a student the opportunity to familiarize his/her self with what the industry actually does.

Is this field growing?

  • Worldwide, the plastics industry is growing. There is very real need for skilled workers in mold manufacturing today due to industry growth, technology, and an aging workforce. Technology like CNC and robotics is changing the opportunities within the field. The use of plastics to replace metal parts, even in high-temperature applications like engines, is fueling growth.

How is the job market for this career?

  • While there are no guarantees, almost everywhere there is manufacturing, there will be a need for skilled mold/toolmakers.

  • Historically, there have been consistent opportunities for mold makers.

  • The average age of mold makers today is about 55 years old, so there are great opportunities for youth to bolster and replace this aging workforce.

Can you describe your typical day?

  • Every day brings a new challenge. Usually working with others in the plant to plan and execute the next step in the manufacture of a mold to produce a product. Going home at the end of the day, I’m satisfied that I was able to accomplish another step toward the completion of the mold.

  • Every day is different, and that’s what makes and keeps my job interesting.

Are there opportunities for advancement in this career?

  • Yes. Tremendous opportunities. Endless opportunities.

  • The problem-solving skills you learn as a mold maker will benefit you in any work environment no matter your career choices.

  • Almost every shop owner started out as an apprentice mold maker. Mold maker sales representatives, plastic products designers, mold designers and plant managers usually started as apprentices.

Are there opportunities for self-employment in your field?

  • Yes, many mold manufacturers are family-owned businesses.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in this field?

  • If you like to understand how things work and have a curious mind, mold making can be a great career.

  • If you’re not mechanically inclined, and prefer not to be challenged or work closely with others, go do something else.

Do you work with others or mainly by yourself?

  • Teamwork is almost always what manufacturers do and are good at.

  • Building a mold is a major undertaking. Teamwork makes it practical to complete a mold in weeks rather than months.

  • Most manufacturers today are investing heavily in team-building skills to help advance our technical capabilities.

Do you ever get transferred and can you be transferred if you don’t want to be?

  • Depending on the size of the business, transfers are rare. Still, there are opportunities for travel and relocation for some companies and those can provide career growth.

  • Transfers happen on rare occasion. Being a skilled professional in the plastic industry means you can be pretty independent about where you want to live, allowing you to choose to stay where you are or to move elsewhere.

Does your job require you to travel?

  • Generally not unless you’re working in sales or supporting customers who require your services.

  • For those who want to travel, there are limited opportunities for sales or support with opportunities for travel.

Where can I find more information about this career?

  • The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA)

  • The Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA)

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