How to become a CNC Machinist

Pursuing a job where you can put your practical and IT skills to use, whilst also getting to grips with the basics of engineering? It might be time to consider a career as a CNC machinist. Those who follow this career path can expect to earn a starting salary of £15,000 – £18,00, rising to £20,000 – £27,000 with experience and reaching over £30,000 for individuals who are highly skilled. 

CNC machinists are typically found in a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, aerospace, construction, automotive and power. But what does a career as a CNC machinist look like?

What exactly does a CNC machinist do?

Firstly, what does CNC mean? A CNC machine is a computer numerically controlled machine which is used to accurately execute tasks such as cutting, drilling and grinding wood, metal or plastic.

CNC machinists work closely with the machinery to ensure it is set up properly, working well and producing a quality product. CNC machinists may work on a variety of different machines or specialise on one complex machine.

The day to day responsibilities for a CNC machinist could include:

• programming the CNC machine tool with data taken from technical drawings
• working out the most efficient order to carry out machining tasks
• choosing the right tools for each stage
• setting the cutting speeds and tolerance levels
• operating the machine
• checking the work meets quality and technical standards
• maintaining the equipment

What do you need to become a CNC machinist?

If you want to pursue this career path you’ll need to have good maths and IT skills, possess excellent practical skills and have the ability to follow engineering drawings and instructions accurately.

Employers can provide on the job training for those who have the necessary attributes, but many normally hire apprentices or those who already have the relevant vocational training or qualifications.

Qualifications employers usually look for when hiring include certificates and awards in engineering and mechanical engineering. Local colleges normally offer these types of qualifications – if you’re looking for one of these courses you can search the National Career Service database or contact your local further education colleges.

CNC machinists don’t typically require a degree, so once you’ve got the necessary skills and/or qualifications you can successfully pursue this career route, gaining additional skills and training on the job.

If you’re already looking for a CNC machinists’ role, check out our current vacancies or get in touch with the team at Cogent.