Precision Machining

Precision Machining

Critical Needs Workforce ScholarshipBecause Precision Machinists are desperately needed, the South Dakota Legislature created a Critical Needs Workforce Scholarship, available the fall of 2014. Students accepted into the Precision Machining on- campus program or the Precision Machining E-Degree option are eligible for federal financial aid and also can sign up for an automatic $4000 scholarship, awarded in installments over the course of their program. Scholarship recipients agree to work as a machinist in South Dakota for three years after graduation. Scholarship information and application materials are available here.

A purposeful American career— machinists are respected, capable and well paid. Virtually everything manufactured in the U.S. today—in the automotive, space, medical, green, or any other industry—can be traced back to the work of a machinist. Even today’s gunsmiths use precision machining to create custom-made firearms. As a result, there is a constant and unmet need for these "Surgeons of Steel" in American manufacturing.

As a student in our 18-month Precision Machining program, you'll learn the working properties of metals, and how to use both manual and computer-controlled methods to make machined products. To give you the maximum experience-edge, we focus on practical, project-based learning, as well as plenty of close interaction with live industry to prepare you for a machining career. Machinists work in a variety of highly technical fields as machine operators, machinists, CNC machinists, tool and die makers, quality control inspectors, machine assemblers, machine tool designers, CNC programmers, or field service representatives.

You'll be impressed by LATI's state-of-the-art precision machining lab and equipment—featuring 23 Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. CNC machines are used in most machine shops and high-tech production facilities. To be on top of the hiring game, as well as qualify for better pay and a specialized job title, machinists must be able to program and monitor the work of a fully automated machine. As a graduate of Lake Area Tech’s Precision Machining program, you’ll have the programming knowledge and experience to land a career in an exciting and diverse machining field.

Machinists make America! Let us help you start your journey towards a life-changing career!

Just six months after graduation, Precision Machining grads are averaging $22.90 an hour! Read more in our latest placement report.

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  • problem solving
  • building things
  • purposeful tasks
  • being accurate
  • taking things apart
  • reading blueprints
  • hands-on activity
  • computers


Then you could be a Precision Machinist!

    On national average, a machinist with 6 to 12 months of training can start at $12 to $14 per hour, and with 10 hours/week overtime can make $34 to 40K per year, with a peak of about $20 per hour, $57K per year. 12 to 14 months of extra training could produce a CNC Machinist earing $16 to $18 per hour, making $46 to $51K, with a peak of about $28 per hour, or $77 per year. Still another 12 to 14 months of training could produce a Tool & Die maker earning $20 per hour, making $57K peaking at $30+ per hour, and making over $86K per year.

    Data Collected from the National Tooling & Machining Association.

Successful Graduates

"I am currently employed by Scherer Design and Engineering in Tea, SD, as the lead machinist, and have many duties such as programing, reverse engineering parts, and operating many different CNC machines. The instructors at LATI not only provided an excellent education—they gave me that extra push for me to be successful in my trade. THANKS LATI!!!'"
Levi Schmid
Lead Machinist
Scherer Design and Engineering

"LATI and the Precision Machining program gave me a very broad education—covering multiple aspects of the machining process. I am currently employed at Applied Engineering (Yankton) as a CNC programmer in training. When asked by my employer what I would have liked to gain from my education that I didn't, I replied, 'I could not have asked for a better education and I feel I was very well prepared for my position.'"
Eric Kotalik
Employed at Applied Engineering
Yankton, SD