Career Development

What Does a CNC Machinist Do?

Find out what a CNC machinist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a CNC machinist.

CNC machinists are responsible for operating computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to produce parts and components. They commonly work with metals, plastics, or wood, but may also work with other materials as well.

CNC machinists must have a deep understanding of the equipment they’re working with—they need to know how it works, how to set it up properly, and how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. They also need strong math skills to be able to read and interpret blueprints and other instructions that describe how parts should look and function.

CNC Machinist Job Duties

CNC machinists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Making sure that all tools used in the machining process are kept sharp for optimal performance
  • Maintaining computerized records of work performed, including documentation of changes made during the machining process
  • Communicating with other departments if materials need to be ordered or if changes in design need to be made to ensure that the part is manufactured correctly
  • Using computer-assisted design software to create models of parts that will be machined
  • Using sophisticated computerized equipment to program instructions into a machine that will automatically carry out the machining process

CNC Machinist Salary & Outlook

CNC machinists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $55,000 ($26.44/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $86,500 ($41.59/hour)

The employment of CNC machinists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for CNC machining will stem from the need to reduce costs and improve quality in manufacturing. In addition, demand for CNC machining is expected to increase as automotive companies continue to automate production processes.

CNC Machinist Job Requirements

A CNC machinist typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: CNC machinists typically need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed some post-secondary education in machining or a related field.

Training & Experience: Most CNC machinists receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training can last for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the complexity of the company’s operations and the size of the workforce.

Certifications & Licenses: CNC machinists must have authorization to operate all types of machinery at their job, so they can expect to receive certification during employment or during ongoing training.

CNC Machinist Skills

CNC machinists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Machining: Machining is the process of using a CNC machine to create a finished product. This process includes planning, designing and operating a CNC machine to create a product. Machining is a critical skill for CNC machinists because it allows them to use their knowledge of CNC machines to create products.

Computer-aided design (CAD): Computer-aided design is a software program that allows machinists to create and modify designs for manufactured products. CAD programs allow machinists to create and modify designs for manufactured products. This software is often used in conjunction with CAM programs, which are used to program machines.

Mathematics: Mathematics is the foundation of many technical skills, including those in CNC machining. You use mathematics to calculate measurements, determine the correct tool size and determine the correct speed for the machine. You also use mathematics to troubleshoot problems and find solutions.

Attention to detail: CNC machinists must have excellent attention to detail to ensure the quality of the products they produce. They must be able to read and interpret blueprints and other technical documents to ensure they set up and operate the machines correctly. They also need to check the quality of the products they produce to ensure they meet the standards of the company.

Mechanical aptitude: Mechanical aptitude is the ability to understand how machines work and how to troubleshoot them. This is an important skill for CNC machinists because they often work with complex machinery and computer systems. Knowing how to identify and solve mechanical issues can help ensure the safety of the equipment and the people working with it.

CNC Machinist Work Environment

CNC machinists typically work in machine shops, although they may also work in factories or other industrial settings. They work with a variety of tools and machines, including lathes, milling machines, and computer numerical control (CNC) machines. CNC machinists must be able to read and interpret blueprints or engineering drawings in order to create the products specified. They also use a variety of measuring instruments to ensure that the products they create meet the required specifications. CNC machinists typically work full time, and overtime is often required to meet deadlines or to complete rush orders. The work can be physically demanding, and CNC machinists must be able to lift and move heavy objects. They also may be exposed to noise, dust, and fumes from the machines and materials they work with.

CNC Machinist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how CNC machinists work. CNC machinists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Training

As businesses become more reliant on technology, the need for skilled technicians who can install and maintain these systems has increased. This is especially true for companies that are looking to automate their operations with CNC machines.

CNC machinists are in high demand because they have the skills necessary to install and maintain these machines. By investing in technical training, CNC machinists can ensure that they are prepared for the future of manufacturing.

The Importance of Collaboration

The trend of collaboration is becoming increasingly important in the workplace as teams become more global and projects become more complex.

CNC machinists can utilize this trend by developing strong communication and teamwork skills. They also need to be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines. In addition, CNC machinists should be open to new ideas and willing to learn from others.

More Automation

The automotive industry is one of the largest users of CNC machining, which is a process that uses computers to control machine tools. As automation becomes more common in this industry, CNC machinists will be in high demand.

This trend means that CNC machinists will need to be familiar with the latest automation technologies in order to keep up with the competition. They will also need to be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise with these systems.

How to Become a CNC Machinist

A career as a CNC machinist can be both rewarding and lucrative. It’s important to start off on the right foot by getting the right training for the job. Many employers require that their new hires have some experience in the field, so it’s a good idea to get your foot in the door at a company that makes or uses CNC machines.

Once you’re working as a CNC machinist, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and techniques. This will help you keep your skills sharp and ensure that you’re always able to find work.

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a CNC machinist. One way is to get more education and training. You can start by taking some community college courses or online courses to learn more about machining. You can also get certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). The NIMS certification is recognized by many employers as a way to show that you have the skills and knowledge to be a competent machinist.

Another way to advance your career is to move into a management position. You can become a shop foreman, production manager, or engineering manager. You can also become a sales representative or technical support specialist for a machining company.

If you have entrepreneurial ambitions, you can start your own machining business. This is a risky proposition, but if you are successful, you can make a lot of money and have a lot of control over your own career.

CNC Machinist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re looking for an experienced CNC Machinist to operate our computer numerical control machines to fabricate metal parts. The ideal candidate will have experience setting up and operating CNC machines, as well as experience reading and understanding blueprints and engineering drawings. He or she will be responsible for ensuring that the parts produced meet the specifications laid out in the drawings, and that they are produced in a timely and efficient manner. The CNC Machinist will also be responsible for performing regular maintenance on the machines to ensure their continued proper operation.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Read and interpret engineering drawings, blueprints, sketches, or manuals to determine machining operations, setups, sequences, or methods
  • Select, align, and secure holding fixtures, cutting tools, attachments, accessories, and materials on machines such as mills, lathes, jig borers, or grinders
  • Calculate dimensions or tolerances, using instruments such as micrometers or calipers
  • Start and observe machine operation to detect malfunctions or out-of-tolerance machining, and adjust machine controls or control media as required
  • Set up and operate machine on trial run to verify accuracy of machine settings or programmed commands
  • Inspect workpieces for defects and measure workpieces with precision measuring instruments to determine whether to accept or reject them
  • Replace worn tools, and sharpen dull tools, using hand tools, power tools, or bench grinders
  • Study sample parts, blueprints, drawings, or instructions to determine methods or sequences of operations needed to fabricate products
  • Fit and assemble parts into complete assembly, using jigs, fixtures, surface plates, hand tools, power tools, and measuring instruments
  • Verify conformance of finished workpiece to specifications, using measuring instruments such as calipers, gauges, micrometers, or dial indicators
  • Clean and lubricate machines, tooling, and workpieces, using cleaning solutions, brushes, rags, and hand tools
  • Record product and processing data on specified forms

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience as a CNC machinist
  • Solid understanding of blueprints, engineering drawings, and sketches
  • Operational knowledge of CNC machines and programming languages (G-code, M-code, etc.)
  • Ability to perform mathematical calculations for machine programming
  • Attention to detail and safety consciousness

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or technical certificate in CNC machining, engineering, or related field
  • Experience with CAD/CAM software
  • Proficiency in manual machining techniques
  • Working knowledge of quality control procedures
  • Ability to troubleshoot and repair CNC machines

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