CNC Machinist Job Description
The primary role of a CNC Machinist is to create machine parts and tools using precision computer equipment. CNC (computer numerical control) Machinists set up, adjust and maintain all equipment used in their daily job activities. They are also responsible for creating programming instructions for the parts they are manufacturing. Once the parts or tools have been produced, CNC Machinists inspect the finished products to ensure they meet all specifications.
CNC Machinists work mainly in machine shops or manufacturing plants. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall projected employment growth rate for all machinists, including CNC Machinists, is 10 percent through 2024. This rate is based on the growing use of CNC equipment that will maintain the call for experienced machinists who can set up and run these types of machines. Also, many companies are consistently looking for faster and improved manufacturing equipment that will increase their reliance on the expertise of CNC Machinists.
CNC Machinist Duties and Responsibilities
The daily responsibilities of CNC Machinists require that these individuals complete various tasks to meet all job expectations. After analyzing several job listings for this occupation, we found the following to be among the most commonly listed tasks associated with CNC Machinists.
Set Up and Operate Precision Equipment
The main task of CNC Machinists is to operate the equipment needed to manufacture tools and machine parts. This requires that CNC Machinists set up such components as switches, tool registers and offsets and program computerized equipment to adjust for particular job specifications.
Maintain Precision Equipment
To reduce any possible downtime, CNC Machinists must perform regularly-scheduled maintenance of all precision computer equipment. This includes running tests, replacing worn or broken parts and keeping inventory of parts and supplies needed to operate this equipment.
Inspect and Test Finished Products
Once a part or tool has been manufactured, CNC Machinists must inspect the completed item to ensure that it meets all specifications. They must be able to complete any inspection reports required by their employer.
Create Programming Documentation
CNC Machinists are often responsible for creating documents outlining step-by-step processes they followed to program equipment for specific jobs. They keep and maintain these documents and make any adjustments or updates as needed.
CNC Machinist Skills
Analytical, problem-solving and mechanical skills top the list of required abilities that must be displayed by CNC Machinists. Eye-hand coordination, strong math skills and the ability to stand for long periods of time at lathes, drills and other equipment are vital capabilities as well. Also, CNC Machinists should be detail-oriented individuals who can work with little or no supervision and possess strong written communication and computer skills. Besides these crucial skills, it is also important for CNC Machinists to possess the following abilities:
- Understanding of the operations of drills, lathes and milling equipment
- Setting up and maintaining computer manufacturing and production machines
- Programming precision computer equipment according to per-job specifications
- Reading schematics, blueprints and other documentation
- Writing and maintaining inspection and programming logs and manuals
CNC Machinist Tools of the Trade
As expected, CNC Machinists must have knowledge of various tools needed to complete all tasks related to this occupation. Successful CNC Machinists will display knowledge of the following:
- Hand tools and equipment – CNC Machinists need to have the ability to work with gauges, calipers, micrometers, scales, indicators and other items necessary to complete the manufacturing of tools and machine parts
- Precision equipment computer software – it is vital that CNC Machinists have the ability to run necessary software needed to set up specific manufacturing jobs or to update or upgrade equipment as needed
- Safety procedures and regulations – knowledge of safety regulations regarding all CNC equipment is an important aspect of being a CNC Machinist
CNC Machinist Education and Training
In many cases, a high school diploma is the only education requirement for CNC Machinists; however, many community and technical colleges offer certificate or 2-year degree programs for machinists that can help prospective CNC Machinists learn the basic skills required for this occupation. These programs typically include an apprenticeship so students can experience on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs might also be offered by professional associations or manufacturing companies.
CNC Machinist Salary
Recent statistics presented by the BLS show that CNC Machinists realize a median annual salary of $41,700. Those in the lowest 1o percent are paid a median yearly salary of $25,900, while those in the top 10 percent earn $62,590. Top earners for this occupation reside in the District of Columbia ($64,030), Alaska ($60,480) and Hawaii ($57,770), followed by Delaware ($51,720) and Washington ($50,550).
CNC Machinist Resources
You can find out more about what is involved in becoming and working as a CNC Machinist by referencing the links below. We have provided information about professional organizations, books and online publications that offer the opportunity to learn more and help you decide whether a career as a CNC Machinist is for you.
National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) – This professional organization offers CNC Machinist with various resources, such as webinars, conferences, articles and networking opportunities.
Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) – Established in 1933, this organization offers CNC Machinists the opportunity to learn about industry trends, safety practices and other important topics through blogs, articles, meetings, conferences and more.
CNC Cookbook – Professional CNC Machinists provide articles about machine shop operations, CNC best practices and other related topics for beginning and experienced machinists.
Okuma Blog – Hosted by an international CNC machine tool manufacturer, this blog offers videos and articles about machining processes and practices.
CNCReport.com – This site provides an in-depth look at industry news, new product reviews and best practice tips for CNC Machinists.
American Machinist – An online publication providing novice and experienced CNC Machinists with articles about tools, current trends, new product news and more.
CNC Machining Handbook: Building, Programming, and Implementation 1st edition by Alan Overby – This book provides a thorough look at CNC systems, programming practices, parts and applications that must be understood and applied by CNC Machinists.
What Is CNC Programming and How to Program: A Look Inside the Career by Paul Szilvasi – Written by an author with over 20 years’ experience as a CNC Machinist, this short book takes a look at CNC codes and programming methods that is must-have knowledge for CNC Machinists.
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