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Manufacturing

CNC machinist

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

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

42 to 44 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on shifts

6%
Future employment

There will be 6% fewer CNC machinist jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

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

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a factory.

Your working environment may be noisy.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
College

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

Entry requirements

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
For more information
Apprenticeship

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.

Entry requirements

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
For more information

More information

Further information

You can find out more about engineering careers from Tomorrow's Engineers.

With experience and further training, you could move into a supervisory role.

You could also move into quality inspection or become an engineering technician.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • 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
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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