How to become CNC Machinist
What does a CNC Machinist do?
CNC machinists use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine
tools to cut, drill, shape and finish products and components used in
the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Many people take courses and apprenticeships in this area to get
into this type of role, though some learn on the job. They work
primarily with metals but also deal with wood, composite materials
The tools they operate include lathes,
cutters, milling machines, grinders, borers and machines that
combine several of these functions. Products include parts for the
automotive, power, marine and aerospace industries, and
manufacturing and machine tools for the engineering sector.
Machinists program the CNC machine tool with data taken from
technical drawings. Some machines display the section on a screen
so that the process can be worked out visually.
- planning the most efficient sequence of operations
for the job
- selecting the appropriate cutting tools for each cut
- selecting the right cutting speeds
- positioning the section for each cut
instructions into a numerically-based program for the computer to
- checking that work meets quality and technical
- routine maintenance of machine tools.
The CNC machines are designed and set to produce large
quantities of components to exactly the same specifications. Should
small quantities of a product be required, hand-operated machine
tools may be used.
What's the working environment like working as a CNC Machinist?
CNC machinists work a 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. Overtime
may be available. Shiftwork may include weekends, evenings and
Machinists work in factories and workshops
standing at the machine as it operates. Although heavier materials
can be positioned with hoists, some manual lifting of smaller
products will be required.
Protective overalls, boots,
goggles and earguards are normally worn.
What does it take to become a CNC Machinist?
To be a CNC machinist you need:
- to understand
engineering drawings and instructions
- to be able to visualise
- an understanding of the properties of the
materials you work with
- good practical skills
- good numeracy
and computer literacy skills
- to be able to work precisely
- to be able to work alone
- to be
reasonably physically fit.
CNC Machinist Career Opportunities
If you would like to know anything about CNC Machinist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below. SEMTA
(Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
Tel: 0808 100 3682
www.semta.org.uk The Engineering Careers Information Service
www.enginuity.org.uk Women into Science and Engineering
22 Old Queen Street
Tel: 020 7227 8421
www.wisecampaign.org.uk Engineering Training Council
20-24 York Street
Tel: 028 9032 9878
Facts and Stats:
- 4,076,000 people work in manufacturing in the UK, making it the nation''s top occupation
Brazil is the top coffee-producing country in the world, producing 1,653,020 tonnes a year
Chicago has more chocolate manufacturers within a small radius than any other place in the world