Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists work with heavy machinery to produce parts made of plastic, metal, or other materials. If you have a knack for working with large machinery, are knowledgeable in how to develop and operate computer and mechanically controlled tools, and like working independently, becoming a CNC machinist could be a great career choice.
You will need to be able to know the CNC programs to be able to set rates and cuts of production. You must also possess basic math skills, as the machinery will need to be programmed. Though entry level positions as a CNC machinist can be easy to find, if you develop your skills and become an expert, the career opportunities are much more rewarding. Most CNC machinists will receive training from a trade school, which can take anywhere from 9-12 months.
Sample job description
[Your Company Name] is searching for a seasoned CNC machinist. We are specifically looking for someone with great intelligence and advanced skills that can work with a variety of machines to create tools. CNC machinists are responsible for setting up and operating different CNC machines and equipment. This position requires skills in mechanical design, technical drawings, mathematics, and computer programming, so they can produce critical products in our world today. If you have a passion for computer technology and have an eye for detail, you may be the perfect candidate for fulfilling this position as a CNC machinist.
Typical duties and responsibilities
Examine and analyze blueprints, sketches, and computer-related files
Set up and operate computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools
Measure and examine the effectiveness of completed products
Produce products to specifications
Operate various machinery
Education and experience
This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Community colleges and technical schools offer programs to train in this field.
Required skills and qualifications
Critical-thinking and decision-making skills
Expertise in math and computer applications
Strong mechanical and technical skills
Knowledge of technical machinery
Minimum 3 years of experience setting up and operating CNC and/or manual machinery
Understanding of G&M code or CNC controllers
Ability to perform machine setups with little to no supervision
Typical work environment
CNC machinists work in a variety of settings, including machine shops or manufacturing facilities in industries such as motor vehicle manufacturing, aerospace products and parts manufacturing, and mechanical engineering. CNC machinists are typically found working 40 hour weeks where they spend their time checking up on machines to make sure they are functioning properly and producing parts that meet required specifications.
CNC machinists typically work business hours from 9 AM to 5 PM, but may be required to be available on some evenings and weekends as shops are open around the clock. If working in a shop, CNC machinists may be exposed to hazards and must follow precautions to avoid these hazards, such as wearing protective clothing.
Most companies want potential candidates to have previous training or certifications completed to demonstrate competence as CNC machinists. Check out the following:
Advanced CNC Programming Certificate (ACNC). Many technical colleges around the United States offer their students this certificate to develop skills in advanced machining and CNC operations. This program also teaches its participants to cut, drill, and shape metal into useful parts. This certificate is ideal for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a CNC machinist.
CNC Machining Program. The CNC Machining Program is offered at various technical and regular colleges. Students in this program will utilize industry tools, equipment, and procedures as entry-level machinists. Certain skills will be developed throughout the course, including blueprint reading, sketching, design, CNC operation, and CNC program. Earning the certificate that comes along with completing the program will show future employers your passion and commitment to the job.
This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers may prefer candidates who have on-the-job experience or who have certifications or an associate degree in a technical or mechanical field. CNC machinists have the opportunity to advance to a position such as electro-mechanical technician.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 51-4041
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
With technological innovations like computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools and different machining types, CNC machinists will be in demand to set up, monitor, and maintain these systems. Individuals have the opportunity to develop their professional and industry knowledge and skills through networking, training, and other resources created by the National Tooling and Machining Association.