Is a career as a CNC Machinist right for you?
Here are some things to consider before you decide:
You will need to have a GED to begin a career as a CNC Operator.
While trade school is not required and on-the-job training is typically available, you will earn more per hour starting as an Operator with post-secondary education.
There is a stigma that manufacturing jobs will be replaced by automation, however, CNC is already highly automated, with a robotic arm doing the actual physical milling. There will always be a need for workers to program and operate the machines.
The right personality type to become a CNC Machinist is someone who is:
Able to Adapt to Change
Strong in Time Management
The Career Journey
Learn On-the-Job or Attend Trade School
- Must have a GED or HS Diploma
- Employers may provide on-the-job training for inexperienced Operators, but trade school is also an option.
- Trade School Programs are offered Nationwide and once completed can allow you to prepare you to gain entry-level employment as a Setup Operator or Machinist.
- Average length of a program is 8 to 9 months. You may or may not receive certifications at the end of the program, but most will prepare you to sit for licensure exams.
- The cost of a CNC Machinist program can range from $5,000 to $15,000. When vetting a program and its cost, determine which skills you will learn and what certifications you will receive upon graduation. The most important factor in choosing a program is how job ready you will after graduation.
- Skills you will learn: Basic Machine Shop Skills, Mathematics, Materials and Maintenance, Interpreting Blueprints/Job Layout, Lathe, Milling, CNC Turning, CNC Milling, CAD
Become an Operator/Machinist
- Depending on your experience when entering the field, you will start as an Operator, Setup Operator or Machinist. These three roles work together to setup, program and operate the CNC Machine.
- An entry-level CNC operator will typically earn $19.50 an hour, but your wages will increase as you earn your licenses and certifications.
Advanced in Certifications
- To grow within your career as a CNC Machinist, you can earn credentials in CAD, CAM, Advanced CNC Programming and Machining
- A highly skilled and experienced CNC tradesperson, can make $32.00/hour or $66,560 a year on average, but as much as $40/hour or $83,200 a year.