Machine shop or industrial arts courses in high school or technical school provide one way of gaining some experience in this work. You might join a student organization, such as SkillsUSA (https://www.skillsusa.org) or the Technology Student Association (https://www.tsaweb.org), if one is active at your school. Summer jobs as unskilled workers are sometimes available in manufacturing plants that have large machine shops. Interacting with the skilled workers in such a plant can provide you with a beginning knowledge of machine tools and the work of setup operators. Apprenticeships may be available, depending on the type of setting or industry you choose to work in. Check with local manufacturers who use job or die setters to find out.
Job and die setters prepare equipment for machine tool operators, who run machine tools. Before setting up a tool, they study blueprints or other specifications to plan the sequence of machining operations and decide on the method for holding the workpiece in place.
They then set up the fixtures that hold the pieces being worked on and check the position of the workpiece to make sure it is correct. They select and set up cutting tools to shave off the exact amount of material. They may use welders or other tools as needed. They may also set up planers, milling machines, grinders, presses, turret lathes, and automatic machine centers. After positioning the tool, setup workers move controls to position the tool and workpiece in the correct relation to each other. They then set the speed, feed, and depth of the cut. To ensure that their setup is correct, they use measuring tools, such as micrometers or gauges.
After setup, they often test the machine by running off several pieces to make certain that their settings are accurate. They then turn the job over to the machine tool operator. Setup workers show or tell operators how to run the machines. They warn them about potential difficulties and explain how to avoid them. During a job run, setters make adjustments when necessary, and they change cutting tools and adjust specifications if needed.
Setters may work on only one type of machine or on most of the machines in a plant or factory; they may work with only one metal, alloy, or plastic, or with several; and they may work on only one product, or on a variety. Specialists include buffing-line setup workers; thread tool grinder setup operators; trim-machine adjusters; slitter service and setters; honing workers; spline-rolling machine operators; job setters; and punch-press, spring coiling machine, threading machine, grinder machine, and molding-and-coremaking machine workers.