CNC Machinist

Job Description:

CNC machinists use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools to cut, shape and finish products that are used by engineers and manufacturers.

Job Category:
Manufacturing & Electronics

What you will do:

You’ll make precision parts for the engineering and manufacturing industries. You’ll work with metals, wood, composites and plastics. The tools you’ll operate might include lathes, cutters, milling machines, grinders and borers. CNC machines are designed to produce large quantities of components to exactly the same specifications.

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • converting instructions into a numerically-based program for the computer to follow
  • working out the most efficient order to carry out machining tasks
  • choosing the right tools for each stage
  • setting the cutting speeds and tolerance levels
  • operating the machine
  • checking the work meets quality and technical standards
  • maintaining equipment


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to work on your own
  • analytical thinking skills
  • creativity – the ability to think outside the box
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You could get into this job through an engineering apprenticeship.

It may help you to find work if you complete a college course in:

  • engineering
  • engineering and manufacturing
  • mechanical engineering
  • engineering systems/practice
  • manufacturing engineering
  • computer aided design and technology (CAD)
  • software engineering

These subjects will teach you how to use software and coding languages to create programs to run the most effective manufacturing process, and ideally how to read and interpret engineering drawings.


Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, possibly on shifts covering weekends, evenings and nights.

You’ll spend most of your time in a factory or workshop, operating and monitoring the machines.

For most jobs, you’ll wear protective overalls, boots, goggles and ear defenders.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and further training, you could move into a supervisory role.

You could also move into quality inspection or become an engineering technician.