Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists make precision parts for the engineering and manufacturing industries.
Salary range: £18,000 to £30,000
How to become a CNC machinist
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
You could do a college course to learn some of the practical engineering skills that employers want. Relevant courses include:
- Level 1 Certificate in Performing Engineering Operations
- Level 1 Certificate in Engineering and Manufacturing
- Level 2 Certificate in Mechanical Engineering
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
You can do an intermediate apprenticeship as an engineering operative or advanced apprenticeship in engineering manufacturing.
You can also do a furniture CNC technician advanced apprenticeship, if you’re working in the furniture manufacturing industry.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You can find out more about engineering careers from Tomorrow’s Engineers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- maths knowledge
- the ability to work on your own
- knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
- analytical thinking skills
- design skills and knowledge
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks could include:
- programming the CNC machine tool with data taken from technical drawings
- 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 could work in a factory.
Your working environment may be noisy.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and 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.