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CNC Machinist

CNC machinists are responsible for setting up and operating different CNC (computer numeric controlled) machines and equipment. This position requires skills in electronic mechanical design, technical drawings, mathematics, and computer programming, so they can produce critical products in our world today. 

A CNC machinist handles the computer numerical control machine. Maintaining, setting, and adjusting the machine are all part of the operator’s daily tasks. This includes knowledge of the software and hardware of the machine. The CNC machinist processes materials to be used for electronic products.

Similar title: CNC Operator

CNC Machinist

What does a CNC Machinist do?

CNC Machinist

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists develop and operate computer and mechanically controlled tools to produce other instruments and apparatus. They control the machinery that produces the speed and cuts to create specific electronic parts. CNC machinists program CNC machinery to determine the rate and cuts of production. 

The role of a CNC machinist is more advanced than that of an operator. Machinists can accurately machine parts to print using a variety of machines and methods. They rely on their skills and expertise, which are often obtained through an accredited trade school or many years of on-the-job experience.

Many machinists start out as operators and work their way up into this role. The CNC industry is very complex—and it’s important for machinists to have a grasp on basic machine operation before taking on more responsibility.

Some of the additional duties of a CNC machinist include:

  • Programming machinery
  • Quality control
  • Troubleshooting and fixing mechanical issues
  • Supervising and managing CNC operators
  • Manage Machinery

    CNC machinists prepare and operate machines. They must understand specifications of the task at hand and the desired result by reading blueprints, mechanical drawings, etc.

  • Safety Knowledge

    These machinists must follow strict safety and quality guidelines when operating CNC machines. They also participating in safety training classes and keeping up-to-date on new safety guidelines.

  • Quality Assurance

    They must ensure the CNC machine operates in accordance with the guidelines of the company. They also ensure that results of machining process align with client expectations.

  • Problem Solving Skills

    CNC machinists must identify problem areas and communicate logistics issues that arise in the process of creating a part. They supervise the machines and make any necessary adjustments to produce a better result.

CNC Operator

CNC operators manage computer numeric controlled (CNC) equipment from setup to operation, producing parts and tools from different resources including metal and plastic. They’re tasked with monitoring machinery, inspecting finished products, and leading test runs.

The CNC operator handles the computer numerical control machine. Maintaining, setting, and adjusting the machine are all part of the operator’s daily tasks. This includes knowledge of the software and hardware of the machine. The CNC operator processes materials and performs functions like drilling, cutting, and shaping steel.

CAD Drafter

CAD drafter will utilize computer-aided design systems to create technical drawings for architectural glass products.


CAD drafters must have Auto-CAD (2005 or later) training certificate or two years of verified work experience from previous employer(s). They must possess the ability to read and interpret contract drawings and customer sketches as well as ability to create and modify drawings in CAD/CAM software.

CNC Programmer

Create and edit CNC programs that support the machining of large-scale, complex, precision metal components fabricated on multiple-axis CNC milling & turning machining centers (CAM file generation, post-processor machine code generation).


Perform technical data package review of components that require fabrication (CAD model & engineering drawing validation). Perform machining process development & optimization (part setup/fixturing, machining strategy/order of operations, tool selection, speed/feed process parameter selection).

CAD/3DP Operator Specialist

CAD/3DP operator specialists perform complex and advanced design and drafting functions in support of development projects utilizing appropriate technology or tools such CAD/CAM/CATAI, etc.


They must interface with multiple internal engineering teams, documentation function and other departments as well as external vendors. Participates in and executes operations of a 3D Printing lab, including maintenance of machines delivery of parts.



The estimated total pay for a CNC machinist is $73,362 per year.

0 - 1 Years

CNC machinists with 0 - 1 years experience earn on average:

$72,224 per year
7- 9 Years

CNC machinists with 7 - 9 years experience earn on average:

$74,106 per year
4 - 6 Years

CNC machinists with 4 - 6 years experience earn on average:

$73,851 per year
10+ Years

CNC machinists with 10+ years experience earn on average:

$77,627 - $79,400 per year
1 - 3 Years

CNC machinists with 1 - 3 years experience earn on average:

$73,249 per year

These are 2021 national salary averages and may fluctuate based on location.

What does the workplace for a CNC Machinist look like?

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.

How to Become a CNC Machinist?

CNC Operator

Most machinist have at least a high school diploma, however, a completed apprenticeship or vocational training is preferred. Successful machinists possess excellent mathematical and analytical skills and have great manual dexterity.

Completing a formal training program can catch the attention of employers and give you a competitive advantage when applying for jobs. It can also increase your chances of advancing quicker in the industry, such as from operator to machinist. Choosing to invest in your education now can be an incredible benefit to your career in the long-run.

Preferred Qualifications:
  • 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

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