How to Become a CNC Machinist – A Step by Step Guide

Mosi Li
Mosi Li

Director Project Engineer at 3Q Machining - China top CNC Machining Custom Part Manufacturer

The CNC Machinist's Role in Manufacturing

The CNC Machinist's Role in Manufacturing

In this section, we explore the role of a CNC machinist in a manufacturing plant.

CNC machinists are responsible for operating computer numeric controlled (CNC) milling machines and lathes. They work with a number of different types of materials, such as metals and plastics to create custom parts based on CAD Drawings.

A CNC machinist can be responsible for reading blueprints, preparing designs for production, setting up the machine tools, ensuring safety practices are met, programming computer-controlled machines to execute cutting or grinding operations on raw materials or parts that have been designed by engineers or other workers in the shop.

Identify the Type of CNC Machinist That You Wish to Become

Step 1- Identify the Type of CNC Machinist That You Wish to Become

A CNC machinist is a skilled worker who builds and operates computerized numerical control (CNC) equipment. They are an integral part of the modern manufacturing industry that utilizes automation.

CNC machinists are responsible for programming, setting up, and operating computerized machine tools to mill, drill, cut, shape, and grind metal materials.

There are different types of CNC machinists that you can specialize in. The type that you choose will depend on the duties that you wish to perform as a CNC machinist. If your main goal is to be able to program the machines yourself or help design parts before starting the process of creating them then you would want to become a programmer. If you want more responsibility over the work flow during production then maybe becoming an operator is right for you.


There are three types of CNC machinists: manual machinist, CNC programmer, and CNC operator.

Manual machinists operate machines that are not programmed by computer programs. They use their knowledge of the machine to set up or change its settings manually.

CNC programmers design, create and change the computer programs that control machinery including lathes, mills, boresaws and other types of machine tools. They may work alone or in teams with manual machinists to set up equipment for specific jobs.

CNC operators run machines that have already been programmed by a programmer or by another operator. These people do not need to know how to program the machines themselves because they only need to know how to run them in order for them to operate correctly.

Step 2 - Establish Skills & Knowledge Base in CAD Software or G-Code Programming Language

Step 2 - Establish Skills & Knowledge Base in CAD Software or G-Code Programming Language

CAD/CAM software are used to create 3D models, digital prototypes for production.

G-Code programming language is a set of instructions for controlling numerical machine tools, including milling machines, lathes, and laser cutters.

CAD software is the most popular and common 3D modeling tool and it’s used by many industries like architecture and engineering. There are various CAD software on the market but there is also a variety of G-Code programming language out there as well. Beginners can start with some free options like Autodesk 123D or FreeCAD before investing in expensive programs such as SolidWorks or Pro/ENGINEER.

With 3D CAD software, engineers can produce quality designs that are more likely to be feasible for production. With G-Code programming language, engineers can design the process of manufacturing by providing instructions on how to control the machine tools.

The skills and knowledge base necessary for this section are:

3D CAD software – These software programs allow users to create designs in 3 dimensions. Engineers can use them to create quality designs that are more likely to be feasible for production.

G-Code Programming Language – With these codes, designers can make a machine follow a specific set of commands in order to produce an object according with their specifications

Step 3 - Gain Experience by Working on Production Lines

Most entry-level machinists are trained on the job by experienced machinists. They may work on production lines, either in factories or machine shops, for an average of about one week before they are ready to start their own job. The training process may vary, depending on the company’s policies and its production needs.

Machine operators work with machine tools and other devices to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and equipment.

Machine operators can learn machining skills by working on production lines. Basic training for a machine operator takes about 3-4 months depending on the company’s requirements.

Step 4 - Get Certified With Your State Labor Department

Machine Tool Technology is an essential skill necessary for a machinist and can be obtained through certification and training courses.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for a Machinist is $43,740 as of May 2015. A higher level of compensation may be available to those with certifications such as the ASE master certification, which is awarded to those who pass a written exam and can demonstrate at least five years of on-the-job experience.

To become eligible for this certification, one must complete 24 hours of technical instruction at an accredited vocational school or community college and pass a written examination.

Machinists are responsible for the operation and maintenance of different types of production machinery and equipment. The career can be on a variety of levels, from apprentice to supervisor.

Many machinist jobs require certification as the employer views it as a standard for their workforce. To get certified, workers can take classes that are offered by trade schools, colleges and technical schools. These courses typically range from 1-3 years depending on the level of certification desired.

How much does a CNC machinist make?

An average cnc machinist is paid per hour. For example, the average cnc machinist in America makes $23.02 per hour.

CNC machinists’ salaries per hour vary depending on the company they work for, their employer’s location, and experience level. The salary per hour can range from $11 to $25 in America.

The average salary of a CNC machinist in America is $35,000 per year. A machinist’s salary can vary depending on the location and the type of industry they work for.

how much does a cnc machinist make in america 01


Leave Your Question & Needs Here

Our project support team will have feedback for you within 1 working day!