What is a CNC machinist’s salary?

A CNC machinist can expect an average salary starting at $18.00 an hour or $37,000 annually. This wage can run the gamut, however, based on several factors such as location and previous experience. Hourly wages for a CNC machinist can be as low as $16.00 and upwards of $50.00 per hour for those with advanced skills!

As of 2019, New York and Massachusetts have the highest average wages for CNC machinists coming in around $46,000 a year. North Carolina currently holds the title for the lowest average wage at $33,000 annually. These location averages are normally related to the demand for a particular job coupled with the supply of skilled workers available.

Like many jobs, there is also room for growth that can help increase your pay. You can become a supervisor, a journeyman machinist, CNC technician, or even move into another industry-related field such as welder or forklift driver. Expanding your knowledge and experience is never a bad bet when trying to boost your salary.

What does a CNC machinist do?

A CNC machinist is responsible for overseeing manufacturing machines. These machines are labeled as “Computer Numerical Controlled,” which essentially means they are programmed and then run by a computer to complete their manufacturing task.

It is quickly becoming a thing of the past for a person to stand and pull a lever thousands of times a day to help a machine do its job. Now, we rely on computer-controlled machines that can run themselves once they are set-up and programmed. A CNC machinist has the enormous duty of setting-up, maintaining and programming these machines. On paper, it may not sound difficult, but this job requires a great amount of knowledge and attention to detail.

What kind of environment does a CNC machinist work in?

Most CNC machinists work in a warehouse or factory setting. As a result, you will most likely be standing for much of the day and working around loud noises, heavy machinery and possibly even extreme temperatures.

You may also be required to wear a specific uniform depending on the warehouse environment. Some employers may require employees to wear coveralls, dust masks, steel-toe boots, hard hats or even gloves.

What does a CNC machinist do day-to-day?

Day-to-day, CNC machinists can expect to come into work and be assigned to one of many machines in the facility, depending on what products need to be manufactured that day. The machine may need to be set-up, programmed or calibrated before starting. Once the machine is ready, you will likely stick around to run the machine. Once items are done being processed by the machine, they will need to be removed, inspected and packaged for their next destination in the facility.

You may not work on the same machine all day. Some days may be mostly spent programming machines for operators to use. You may also be expected to work on a shift schedule rather than the typical 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. schedule. Since many of these machinist jobs are in the manufacturing sector, the company will likely need a machinist on-site around the clock in case a machine needs to be programmed, calibrated or repaired. This isn’t always the case, but it’s possible, especially if you are the newest machinist within the company.

What kind of skills do CNC machinists need to have?

CNC machinists are both talented and exceptionally knowledgeable. This job often requires heavy lifting, tool work, familiarity with manufacturing, and stamina that is needed to work in a factory setting. On the flip side, this job requires a great deal of computer, math and mechanical knowledge. Without both sets of skills, machinists would be unable to set up the machines for manufacturing. They would also not be able to move and place parts where they are required to go next. This job also requires a great deal of attention to detail, precision and problem-solving skills. These additional skills ensure that the machinist can guarantee quality work, prevent errors and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

What kind of hours do CNC machinists work?

Many machinists work regular business hours but, given the primary industries that utilize CNC machinists, you may not always find normal 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. hours. Companies that use CNC machines are normally in the manufacturing sector. Because of this, these companies need to produce their products whenever supply demands it.

As a result, hours may be during standard business hours or hours could include nights and weekends. With this demand comes the need for a machinist who can keep the machines programmed and working to meet the demand. This is why you may find yourself working a second or third shift — especially if you are new.

You may also be required to be “on-call” if you don’t work these later hours. This way, the company can have you come in only when you are needed outside of typical business hours. While being on-call is a great opportunity for overtime and having your weekends and nights available, it also means that you may have to stop on a dime to be at work.

Having to work nights, weekends and being on-call have their pros and cons, so it is important to consider what hours the companies near you are offering.

What kind of education do CNC machinists need?

There are multiple steps to becoming a CNC machinist that require a good bit of time and commitment to education. You may be wondering what kind of school do CNC machinists go to. CNC machinists have a few options when it comes to their education.

Some may choose a vocational school, trade school or technical institute. Here, you will learn how to complete many advanced techniques in a classroom and hands-on setting.

You can also learn how to become a machinist on the job. This route normally means you are employed with a company in an entry-level position, but while you are on the job, you are also learning to become a CNC machinist for this company. You will likely work under a journeyman or senior CNC machinist who will teach you the ropes of machining.

In this digital world we live in there is also an online option for CNC education. This option is similar to a vocational option in that you will be learning in a classroom-like setting through the web. The one element an online element is lacking is the hands-on education. Many online institutions don’t provide this part of the coursework. With an online option, you also need to be aware of scams. Before you pay for a program, make sure you do your research to determine the online course is legitimate.

Any school option will likely take a few years — oftentimes two — but can help get you on track to the career you are dreaming of. Once you finish either of these schooling options, you will next need to be certified to become an official CNC machinist.

During this time, it is a good idea to get some working experience under your belt for when your formal education is finished. You can use this opportunity to work in a factory or warehouse-type setting and gain some experience to list on your resume. You may also be able to do some practice runs in your chosen career as a CNC Operator. This means that you have the knowledge and ability to run the CNC machines, but you are not certified to program or troubleshoot them.

Once this education is completed, you will also need to be certified. This step is very important because, without this certification, you are not officially a CNC machinist or programmer, no matter how much schooling you have taken.

One great thing about choosing the vocational school option is that they will likely include the certification process in your program. If you went the apprenticeship route, you will likely need to seek out certification on your own. This can easily be found through a Google search or by speaking to your journeyman.

There are several certifications you can obtain at this point. Each certification is closely related to a particular industry or machine type you will be working with. In an ideal situation, you would have as many relevant certifications as possible to make you a much more desirable candidate.

In reality, when you are first starting off, it may be best to go with the NIMS certification (National Institute of Metalworking Skills). The test for this certification will include a written exam to test your knowledge as well as a hands-on component to test your skills. This is the most recommended certification for general employment but as we said before, there are many other certifications available to help you grow in the position.
If you plan to work for a specific company, is best practice to see or ask what certifications they require or find most desirable. Obviously, you’ll want to do this before you choose to get certified. Either way, it’s a great place to start on the road to employment as a CNC machinist.

Once you have your certification in-hand, you will next need to begin your job hunt. This may be easy if you took the apprenticeship route and can step right into the position with the company you learned from. However, if you are starting the search fresh, you will need to take a few extra steps.

One of these is to prepare your resume. Like any resume, you will want to include your prior work experience as well as your machinist qualifications. This will encompass your certifications and schooling credentials. Next, you will begin the search for a CNC machinist job. This can start with a simple Google search, or you can meet with a local recruiter who can guide you to these specific jobs in your area.

What kind of training do CNC machinists need?

Beyond the normal schooling and certification that CNC machinists require, there may be additional training that the company requires or a machinist opts for. If it is a company requirement, this training may be for safety, company protocol, or for new machinery or parts the company may be using. If the training is something you opt for, it is likely additional certifications that can help progress your career and knowledge of the trade. You may even be able to convince your employer to pay for this additional training since it also benefits them to have a skilled machinist on their team.

What is a job description of a CNC machinist?

If you are in the market for a position as a CNC machinist, you will likely run across a job description similar to the following:
“We are looking for a skilled CNC Machinist with programming certification. You will be responsible for accurately and safely setting up, programming, or running of the CNC machinery using G-code. This should be done with the utmost precision to maintain the quality of our products. You will be responsible for quality control and accurate measurements of finished components, keeping CNC machines clean, performing any routine maintenance on the machines, and following all company safety protocol.”

What kind of certification do CNC machinists need?

There are numerous certification options for machinists to pursue and each one is dependant on the industry or specialized machine. While no one specific certification is needed, the one that is most recommended to be hireable is the NIMS certification (National Institute of Metalworking Skills). You may want to check with your potential employers though to see what certification they find most desirable for their production. You can have multiple certifications throughout your career that will make you a much more attractive candidate in future employment opportunities.

How do you find an apprenticeship as a CNC machinist?

Even though the word apprenticeship is being used, please understand that this is a paid job with the intent of teaching you while you work. That being said, you can find a machinist apprenticeship just like you would find a normal job. This can be done through a simple google search and you will find these positions are often entry-level with little experience requirements.

Can you find trust-worthy CNC machinist training online?

Trustworthy training is available online but it will require a bit of leg-work to make sure it is legitimate. While there is no official agency putting their stamp on online content, one of the easiest ways to know if an online program is credible is through its past clientele. It’s a good idea to choose a training program that has trained other employees for Fortune 500 companies and other well-known companies.

Are there entry-level CNC machinist jobs?

Since a CNC machinist is a career that requires certification, you likely won’t find an entry-level position where you can walk off the street with zero qualifications. Upon receiving your certifications, you may be able to snag a job with no prior on-site experience, but, you will have a better chance of being hired if you have prior experience working as a machinist. During your training, it is a good idea to take on a job that will allow you to snag some relatable experience, such as in a warehouse or factory line experience.

Can you find part-time machinist jobs?

There is always an exception to the rule, but in most cases, no, you are not likely to find part-time work as a CNC machinist. Simply put, this job often requires many hours on multiple machines. That said, machinists are highly sought after. You may be able to work out a deal with a company near you that gives you a part-time or more flexible schedule. It never hurts to ask.

What is the demand for machinists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between now and 2026, there will be little to no change in the demand for CNC machinists. They predict that by 2026 there will be an additional 8,000 jobs in addition to the natural replacement of existing CNC machinists who retire or leave the industry.

How do I find CNC machinist jobs near me?

The wonderful thing about CNC machinist jobs is that they are practically everywhere! With these jobs primarily being in the manufacturing sector, it is highly likely there is a factory, plant or warehouse near you that would need a machinist. That being said, you can easily Google “CNC machinist jobs near me” and be provided with several open positions. Another option is to meet with your local recruiter. This option is great for a few reasons.

First, a recruiter will usually be aware of opportunities near your area that are not open to the public on job boards. This is often because staffing services have special relationships with local companies to help them find the best candidate as quickly and easily as possible.

Secondly, a recruiter will get to know you on a personal level. This allows them to help place you in a job or with a company that fits your personality and skill set. Lastly, a recruiter can help you sniff out the perfect job if you have particular boxes that must be checked. If you have to work regular business hours for personal reasons, they can help pair you with a company or job that would fit these needs.