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Machinist’s Mate

A United States Nay Machinist’s Mate conducts maintenance checks aboard the USS Truxtun.

More Information


Machinist’s Mates (MM) are responsible for operating and maintaining ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment and outside machinery. Specifically, your job responsibilities as an MM may include:

  • Aligning piping systems for oil, water, air and steam
  • Operating ship boilers and steam turbines used for ship propulsion
  • Operating turbo generators used to produce electrical power
  • Cleaning, adjusting, testing and maintaining boilers, engines, generators
  • Maintaining auxiliary machinery including steering engines, elevators, winches, pumps and valves
  • Operating and maintaining water desalination plants
  • Maintaining refrigeration plants, air conditioning systems and galley equipment
  • Repairing valves, pumps, heat exchangers, compressors, steam turbines and hydraulic and pneumatic devices
  • Creating and analyzing machinery operating reports and records

Work Environment

MMs work aboard Navy ships in fire rooms, boiler rooms, engine rooms or shop settings. These locations are sometimes hot and noisy. As an MM, you can expect to perform physical work as part of a team.

Training & Advancement

Upon completion of initial training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes (known as Boot Camp), you’ll report for specialized training, including:

Basic Engineering Common Core and “A” School (9 weeks) in Great Lakes, IL, for training in basic mechanical theory, technical documentation, safety precautions and programs, piping systems, tools and instruments, mechanical systems, the Maintenance Material Management System (3M), and basic watch standing procedures.

After you complete your training, you may be assigned to ships and naval repair activities afloat and at shore stations in the U.S. and overseas.

Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.

Advanced Training

Advanced training as a Machinist’s Mate may also be available during later stages of your career. For those with further leadership aspirations and a college degree, Officer roles may be available, providing opportunities to lead and train others.

Post-Service Opportunities

Specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields in the civilian world, such as industrial machinery, engineering, power plant operation and more.

Education Opportunities

Beyond offering access to professional credentials and certifications, Navy technical and operational training as a Machinist’s Mate can translate to credit hours toward a bachelor’s or associate degree through the American Council on Education.

You may also continue your education through undergraduate degree opportunities like the Navy College Program and Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Qualifications & Requirements

A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor and a Machinist's Mate. You must also be a U.S. citizen eligible for security clearance.

MM applicants should possess good speaking skills and an aptitude for working with tools and mechanical devices. You should also be able to work well with others as part of a team.

Important personal attributes for MM applicants include resourcefulness, an interest in learning new ideas and skills, and good physical stamina. You must also have good manual dexterity and normal hearing.

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

Part-Time Opportunities

Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Sailor, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Machinist's Mates in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes.

For annual training, you may serve anywhere in the world, including locations in the U.S., at bases overseas, or in areas where humanitarian needs are great.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.

Machinist’s Mates in the Navy Reserve serve in an Enlisted role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with the job, initial training requirements must be met.

For current or former military Enlisted servicemembers, prior experience satisfies the initial Recruit Training requirement, so you will not need to go through Boot Camp again.

For those without prior military experience, you will need to meet the initial Recruit Training requirement by attending Boot Camp in Great Lakes, IL. This training course will prepare you for service in the Navy Reserve and count as your first Annual Training.