There is a large demand right now for experienced manual machinist of the old school type. Lots of practice and hand on experience is needed to develope a feel and an ear for the cut. Learn the feeds and speeds. Keep up to date on new materials and methods. Learn several drafting and programming software like CADCAM and SURFCAM. Take training couses in geometrical talorancing, strength and properties of materials, advanced trigonamitry, and be comfortable on using computer software for file and data transfer, storage, and retrival. Be an all around machinist being able to use and operate a variety of CNC and manual machines. Be able to sharpen tools by hand. Learn heat treating and annealing properties. Learn Basic welding.
Being a good machinist pays well if you find your nick or talent and devope it. The machinist world is constantly changing with the advent of new emerging techknowedgies like rapid prototyping, eversmaller microchips, and composites. But the need for a good machinist will always exist and so will the pay. I would recommend this career to anybody who has a desire to be a crafstman and loves to work with their hands and take pride in their creations. I would do it all over again and I dream of one day owning my own machine shop to create my own artwork and inventions. One thing a lot of people don't know is that machinist have to know how to work with a lot of different materials and not just metal!