Do you have an interest in technology? Design? A passion for making things that are used every day by countless people across the world? A job as a CNC machinist might be the right fit for you.  

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines are the beating heart of the manufacturing industry, and the people who operate them are invaluable for manufacturing companies of every shape and size. CNC machines cut, shape, drill, and finish raw materials – metal, plastic, wood, etc. – to form them into components. Of course, these machines don’t work entirely on their own. It requires the skill of a CNC machinist to guide the machines when producing their essential products.  

What exactly does a computer numerically controlled machinist job entail? What do these individuals do every day, and what kind of education or experience is needed to become one? Let’s take a closer look at this rewarding and important career path. 

CNC Machinist Job Description 

CNC machinists are in charge of operating the heavy machinery that produces parts and tools made of materials like metal, plastic, and wood, often for sectors like the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. They’re also responsible for making sure that the final product is up to standard, defect-free, and ready to be sold or moved to the next stage of production.  


Some of the basic job responsibilities of a CNC machinist include: 

  • Reading blueprints and mechanical drawings 
  • Translating instructions into computer commands 
  • Preparing and loading raw materials 
  • Monitoring CNC machines while they’re outputting products 
  • Performing quality control checks of finished products 
  • Completing accurate documentation logs 
  • Maintaining a clean, safe workspace 

Some CNC machinists are responsible for multiple machines running at the same time, while others are responsible for one machine at a time. This depends on the job, the industry, and what’s being manufactured. CNC machinists work closely with CNC programmers, who write the computer code that tells the machines what to do. CNC machinists are also responsible for maintaining material stock to ensure they don’t run out of usable materials. 


Most employers will require that a CNC machine operator possess a high school diploma or GED, and most will prefer that an applicant has attended a postsecondary CNC machining program. Classes may include blueprint reading, technical drafting, metalworking, mathematics, and more. Many CNC machinists also take apprenticeships or internships to study under more experienced machinists.  

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) offers three levels of machining certification: CNC set-up programmer, certified journeyworker, and NIMS-certified machinist. CNC machinists don’t necessarily need this qualification to obtain employment, but many employers will prefer it, and it helps candidates stand out in a crowded field.  

Skills CNC Machinist Employers Like to See 

In addition to the basic requirement of a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as completion of a machining program and optional certification, employers like to see a few basic skills necessary for performing the job. They include: 

Technical Writing and Comprehension 

CNC machines are very complex machines and operating them requires a lot of specific technical and mathematical knowledge. And because machinists must be able to read and interpret schematics and technical drawings, technical writing and comprehension skills are a must-have. This kind of ability is the foundation that machinists use to interpret instructions and translate them to the machines that make the products.  

Understanding of CAM/CAD Technology 

Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM/CAD) is the basis of the technology used by CNC machinists to do their job. CAM/CAD refers to software used to design and manufacture products; the technology uses geometrical data to control automated machinery. Essentially, it’s the foundational software that a CNC machinist uses to operate the machine itself. That’s why a thorough understanding of this technology is so important for the job. 


As mentioned above, CNC machinists must communicate with other people on the production floor, including CNC programmers, supervisors, peers, and others. CNC machinists must listen and take directions, as well as give instruction and explain things clearly. Machinists must also be comfortable speaking up when they spot an error; the machining process will need to be stopped so that the product isn’t manufactured in the wrong way. 

Collaborative Abilities 

CNC machinists work with programmers, project managers, and other production team members to produce quality products. Machining is truly a collaborative effort, so CNC machinists must be willing and able to work with other people on the factory floor in order to get the job done right. When communication and collaboration break down, errors happen – that is both a safety issue and a problem for the company’s bottom line. 

Breaking Into the Manufacturing Industry with Career Concepts  

Are you interested in breaking into the world of CNC machining? Why not turn to a CNC machinist job placement agency with decades of experience in the manufacturing industry? Career Concepts Staffing Services can help.  

Resume and Interview Preparation 

One of the great benefits of working with a staffing agency is one that many candidates aren’t aware of – help with interview preparation and resume polishing. And with our experience in the manufacturing and machining industries, we can make sure your resume is appealing to as many employers as possible and that you’re prepared for any interview that comes your way. We’ll help you highlight the right skills and experience so you’re maximizing your chances of securing a job you love.  

Pay Rate Negotiation 

Your CNC machinist job recruiter will negotiate pay on your behalf, ensuring that you get the best pay rate commensurate with your experience and work history. Having a professional on your side to help negotiate pay is a real benefit when it comes to your job search – often, your recruiter can get you a better pay rate than you would be able to secure on your own.  

Access to a Broader Network 

Our manufacturing staffing and recruiting agency professionals have a large network of employers that they’ve worked with in the past. That means you gain access to that network when you partner with our firm. And because certain employers aren’t posting their jobs on the big job boards like Indeed and Monster, you’re getting access to exclusive jobs that other candidates don’t have access to. That increases your chance of securing a top job even further.  

Begin Your CNC Machinist Job Today  

If you’re interested in technology, design, and manufacturing and where these fields intersect, the CNC machinist career path could be the right choice for you.  

Would you like to learn more about what it takes to become a CNC machinist? Looking to enter the field of CNC machining with a job where you’re able to thrive? Career Concepts Staffing Services is here for you. Our CNC machinist recruiters are experienced in this area and will serve as your trusted career advocate throughout the entire hiring process and beyond.  

Career Concepts was founded in 1967 and is Northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest locally owned full-service staffing organization. We serve candidates from our corporate office in Erie as well as branch offices in Pittsburgh, Franklin, Meadville, Girard, Corry, and Jamestown, NY. Get in touch with a member of our recruitment team today to get started on your CNC machining journey – a fulfilling career awaits. 

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