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CNC machinist

Alternative titles for this job include CNC operator

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

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter


£35,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

42 to 44 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a CNC machinist

You can get into this job through a college course or an apprenticeship.


You could do a college course to learn some of the practical engineering skills you'll need. 

Courses include:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Level 1 Certificate in Performing Engineering Operations
  • 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

More Information


You could do an Engineering Operative Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship or Machining Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship.

If you're working in the furniture manufacturing industry, you could do a Furniture CNC Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship.

More information

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

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

More Information

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a CNC machinist, you could:

  • programme the CNC machine tool with data from technical drawings
  • work out the most efficient order to carry out machining tasks
  • choose the right tools for each stage and operate the machine
  • set the cutting speeds and tolerance levels
  • check that work meets quality and technical standards and maintain equipment

Working environment

You could work in a factory.

Your working environment may be noisy.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

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.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Wiring Harness Technician

  • Wage: £12,480.00 to £22,308.00 Annually
  • Location: NI Park, Newport

Engineering Apprentice

  • Wage: £12,313.60 Annually
  • Location: Armstrong, Washington

Courses In England

HNC Engineering (Mechanical)

  • Provider: MID-KENT COLLEGE
  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Maidstone


  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: HARTLEPOOL

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