What does a CNC machinist do?

CNC (computer numerical control) machinists are considered to have a more advanced role than CNC operators and are skilled in quality control, programming machinery, supervising CNC operators, and fixing any issues that develop with the machinery. They attend trade schools and have a lot of experience to obtain the skills and expertise they need for this role. Many machinists begin working as operators before being promoted to a CNC machinist position.

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What is the average CNC machinist salary?

The average salary of a CNC machinist is $47,940 per year or $23.05 per hour according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Standards. The pay depends on how many years of experience you have as well as the company that employs you. The city where you work also determines your salary or hourly rate. Some of the highest-paying U.S. cities for this profession include Fort Wayne, Indiana; Dayton, Ohio; Warsaw, Indiana; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Houston, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Cleveland, Ohio. 

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Working as a CNC machinist

Do you enjoy working with your hands and operating advanced machinery to produce different types of products and parts? CNC machinists manage various types of CNC machinery to ensure they're operating correctly. To succeed in this role, you need to know about Computer Numeric Controlled machinery and follow safety protocols. You will also manage other CNC operators and troubleshoot any issues that develop. This position also requires great attention to detail and the ability to remain highly focused and avoid mistakes. In addition, you will need to have technical skills and be able to manage multiple people in the facility.


What is the career outlook for a CNC machinist?

The BLS forecasts that the CNC machinist occupation will grow by 7% by 2030. Approximately 47,500 new positions will become available each year. This is the same rate of growth as many other occupations in different industries. The increase in demand will be due to other employees who move to different positions within the company or retire and exit the workforce.


Skills and competencies

To become a successful CNC machinist, you will need many different technical and physical skills. These include:

  • Time management skills for improved efficiency while maintaining machinery
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Ability to communicate well and work as a team player
  • Good work ethic
  • Willingness to learn various aspects of the position
  • Ethical behavior
  • Self-motivation and attention to detail
  • Welding and drafting skills
  • Punctuality and efficiency
  • Technical writing and comprehension
  • Proficiency in math and basic computer skills
  • Good physical health and ability to lift at least 50 pounds
  • Knowledge of health and safety protocols in facilities
  • Leadership skills while managing other CNC operators
  • High level of accuracy
  • Skilled in working with different types of hand tools
  • Ability to work well under pressure and in high-stress environments
  • Experience and knowledge in manufacturing various tools and products


A CNC machinist job is perfect for someone passionate about working with computers and creating items. Learn how to qualify for this position by reading through these answers to commonly asked questions about how to become a CNC machinist. 

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