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A Day in the Life of a CNC Machinist

Want to become a CNC machinist? It helps to know what you’re getting into. By tracking “a day in the life” of this profession, you can see if it suits you.

Here, we’ll provide the details you need to start thinking about a position as a CNC machinist. In addition, we’ll walk you through the job requirements and let you know the daily activities that will be expected in this line of work.

What is a CNC machinist?

The letters “CNC” stand for “computer numerical control.” As you might guess from the name, the equipment uses computer software to direct production processes. Led by its programming, the equipment often conducts such tasks as grinding, drilling, or cutting.

Because it’s controlled by a computer program, this equipment can perform precision jobs on the factory floor. As a result, CNC machines are well represented in mission-critical industries like aerospace, defense, and electronics.

What does a CNC machinist do?

A CNC machinist is a high-skill job that uses computer technology to create precision products. That means these positions require a range of technical abilities. To succeed in the profession, you’ll need a diverse set of skills.

Landing a position as a CNC machinist means you take part in every stage of the process. As a result, you’ll take a project from the planning stages to production. The job also requires a broad understanding, touching on product design, programming the equipment, and trouble-shooting any problems that arise, among other duties.

Here are a few of the specific skills a CNC machinist needs:

  • Reading blueprints and engineering plans
  • Understanding materials
  • Programming equipment, like mills and lathes
  • Equipment set up
  • Machine operation
  • Inventory management
  • Safety compliance
  • Maintaining production and quality logs

Is becoming a CNC machinist a good career decision?

The average salary for a CNC machinist nationwide comes to nearly $47,000. At the high end, this figure can top $65,000.

You can begin your career in the industry as a CNC operator. This requires fewer technical skills than a machinist. The salary is less, coming in at an average of just under $38,000.

By adding skills, you can expand the earning potential. Beyond a starting machinist, you can find higher-level positions with a management component, like Lead Machinist. The average salary here climbs into the high $50,000 range.

Employment prospects for the industry are strong as well. According to the U.S. Labor Department, machinists in general can expect job growth of about 3% over the next decade, about as fast as the average for all jobs.

How do you become a CNC machinist?

To compete for CNC machinist jobs, you’ll need suitable training and experience.

To start, you’ll likely need a high school diploma of GED for any CNC machinist position. In fact, this usually is not enough. Given the technical requirements of the position, you’ll likely need more education, unless you’ve already accumulated a significant amount of practical experience.

Associate degree programs are available. Within these, courses of study include concentrations like CNC machine operations and tool technology. These diplomas usually require a two-year process, with classes often available at community colleges or technical schools.

You can also achieve industry certifications. These credentials are available through various organizations. Most prominently, this includes the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International.

Think you’re ready to launch your career as a CNC machinist? Already have the appropriate skills and background but need the perfect job? A top recruiter, like SmartTalent, can help.

Contact SmartTalent today to build your career as a CNC machinist.


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