We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

CNC machinist CNC operator, toolmaker

BETATry an improved version of this page

  1. More about how to get into this career
  2. We've included current opportunities to help you with your next steps
Try it out

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists make precision parts for the engineering and manufacturing industries.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. 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

Tomorrow's Engineers has general information about engineering careers.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to follow engineering drawings and instructions accurately
  • excellent practical skills
  • maths and IT skills

3. What you'll do

You'll make precision parts for the automotive, power, aerospace and manufacturing industries. You'll work with metals, wood, composites and plastics, and CNC tools, like lathes, cutting machines, drills and presses.

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

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £27,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns 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.

6. 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.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 13 September 2018