Every manufacturing process requires tools and molds, or dies, that are used by industrial machinery to produce products. Machinist toolmakers design, develop and create the tools, while mold makers, or die makers, work on forms that shape parts during manufacturing. These specialists work closely with engineers to understand what parts need to be produced and then design the necessary tools for the work. Tool and mold makers are usually trained on the job and take classroom lessons for several years. The salary depends on the industry, employer and location.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that machinist toolmakers and mold makers in 2009 earned an annual mean wage of $48,730. The lowest-paid 10th percentile category earned $31,580 per year or less. The top-paid 10 percent made $71,150 or more. The median salary was at $46,900 a year.
The metalworking machinery manufacturing industry was the largest employer of tool and mold makers in 2009 and paid them an annual mean wage of $45,180, according to the bureau. The motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry was second-largest employer, but paid more, at $56,370 per year, which was the fifth-highest salary among employers. The forging and stamping industry paid an average of $47,770 a year, while plastic products manufacturers paid $45,610. Machine shops and manufacturers of bolts, nuts and screws paid tool and mold makers an average annual salary of $44,340.
The bureau reports that motor vehicle manufacturers paid machinist toolmakers and mold makers the highest average salary among employers, at $69,680 per year, followed by enterprise management companies at $67,850. The federal government paid these specialists an annual mean wage of $59,870, while manufacturers of transportation equipment paid $58,300 a year.
Connecticut was the highest-paying state for the tool and mold makers in 2009, with an average annual pay at $59,320. Washington state and Delaware paid $57,330 and $56,060 a year, respectively. Michigan, with the highest concentration of these specialists per 1,000 workers and one of the highest employed numbers, paid No. 4 highest salary -- $54,440 a year. Flint, Michigan, paid these specialists the top average salary of any metropolitan area, at $72,450 per year. Sandusky, Ohio, and Jackson, Mississippi, had the second and third highest average annual salaries among metro areas, at $65,750 and $64,540, respectively.