CNC Machinist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a CNC Machinist Do?

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinist operates and programs machine tools such as lathes, mills, and grinders that are controlled by a computer to produce precision metal or plastic parts. To produce high-quality parts, machinists set up machines, write and test programs, and make adjustments as needed. In addition, precision measuring instruments are used to ensure that completed parts meet specifications.

CNC machinists work in various industries but are most commonly found working for industrial manufacturers and construction where high-quality custom parts and pieces are frequently needed.

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National Average Salary

CNC machinist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a CNC Machinist is:


CNC Machinist Job Descriptions

When recruiting a CNC machinist, having the right job description can make a big difference. Here are some real-world job descriptions you can use as templates for your next opening.

General CNC Machinist

[Your Company Name] is searching for a seasoned CNC machinist. We are specifically looking for someone with great intelligence and advanced skills that can work with a variety of machines to create tools. CNC machinists are responsible for setting up and operating different CNC machines and equipment. This position requires skills in mechanical design, technical drawings, mathematics, and computer programming, so they can produce critical products in our world today. If you have a passion for computer technology and have an eye for detail, you may be the perfect candidate for fulfilling this position as a CNC machinist.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Examine and analyze blueprints, sketches, and computer-related files
  • Set up and operate computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools 
  • Measure and examine the effectiveness of completed products
  • Produce products to specifications 
  • Operate various machinery

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Community colleges and technical schools offer programs to train in this field. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Critical-thinking and decision-making skills
  • Expertise in math and computer applications
  • Manual dexterity
  • Strong mechanical and technical skills
  • Knowledge of technical machinery

Preferred qualifications

  • Minimum 3 years of experience setting up and operating CNC and/or manual machinery
  • Understanding of G&M code or CNC controllers
  • Ability to perform machine setups with little to no supervision

Junior CNC Machinist

As the CNC Machinist for ABC Company, you will have the opportunity to use a variety of precision measuring instruments, inspect in process or finished parts and feature characteristics as well as manufacturing methods to blueprint specifications. This is a chance for you to develop a career within a global business and to help us improve our processes.

Key accountabilities

  • Setting up fixture components for jobs that require CNC Machining
  • Understanding and have functional use of CNC code and CNC programming
  • Setting machine origins in accordance with the set-up instructions
  • Working to machine dimensions and maintain close tolerances and correlated dimensions with a high demand for squareness, concentricity, finish, and parallelism
  • Setting and loading all tools in conjunction with set-up instructions to complete assigned jobs
  • Ability to lift various items weighing up to approximately 40 pounds

Basic requirements

  • High School Diploma or equivalent with 2+ years experience in machining operations or a Precision Machining Certificate
  • Knowledge of machining methods, cutting qualities of metals and tools
  • Ability to read and understand blueprints
  • To be considered for this opportunity, you must be eligible to obtain and maintain security clearance, which requires USA Citizenship

Preferred requirements

  • Ability to operate various cranes, material handling equipment and various types of machining equipment etc.

Mid-level CNC Machinist

Essential duties and responsibilities

  • Retrieve job related information (job routings, part drawing, tool list, work-instruction, in-process inspection sheet, etc.)
  • Complete change-over activities (Machine preparation from previous job set-up to new job set-up)
  • Complete manufacturing of first part per process instruction
  • Review supplied raw-material for dimensions, quantity, defects, and required heat lot/certification numbers
  • Manufacture parts to required quantity
  • Document manufactured quantities utilizing ERP system
  • Inspect and document parts according to in-process inspection sheet requirements
  • Troubleshoot parts when issues occur
  • Work with the Engineering department to improve machining processes
  • Stabilize machining processes to turn over to Operator for production run
  • Train Operators as needed on job related items
  • Sign off work order utilizing ERP system
  • Print a physical document (i.e. router) when required
  • Provide tote, documents and parts to next process step
  • Maintain work area and equipment in a clean orderly condition and follow prescribed safety procedures
  • Document completion of all required processes in ERP system
  • Provide end-of-shift report detailing activities of the shift


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty in an exemplary manner. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Education and experience

  • High School Diploma or GED
  • 3-5 years experience setting up and operating CNC milling and/or turning machines
  • Ability to read technical drawings
  • Understanding of GD&T
  • Experience using measuring tools and gages
  • Experience with Siemens and/or Heidenhain controls preferred
  • Experience with Deckel Maho Gildemeister (DMG) machines preferred

Computer skills

  • Proficient in all Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Visio)
  • Experience with a major ERP system

Senior CNC Machinist

The CNC Machinist performs detailed machine setups, G & M code (CNC) programming, machine process improvement and troubleshooting, and produces machined parts using a variety of CNC machines. 

Essential responsibilities:

  • Perform machine setups quickly, accurately, and efficiently
  • Work with engineering and CAM programming department to develop, and improve CNC programs
  • Design and aid in the fabrication of fixturing for parts of varying complexity
  • Advise supervisor and programming team of technical advancements to increase production
  • Operate machines to produce production runs of parts
  • Maintain quality standards through understanding of the Quality Management System
  • Monitor and document operational and performance issues and provide feedback to supervisor
  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships with peers, supervisors, and other staff
  • Other duties as directed by supervisor


  • High school diploma or GED required; post-secondary CNC education preferred
  • 8+ years of CNC machine operation
  • G & M code fluency and ability to edit programs
  • High level of blueprint reading required
  • Proficiency with conversational controls is a plus
  • Strong verbal communication and problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to deal with complexity
  • Capable of working in a customer-focused, deadline-driven environment while maintaining a positive attitude
  • Interested in learning with, and from, engineering, and programming team to improve operations

CNC Machinist Qualifications to Look For

Previous experience

  • Operated and set up CNC machines to produce precision parts
  • Interpreted technical blueprints and designs to understand the specifications and requirements of a part
  • Programmed the CNC machine, inputting the design specifications and ensuring the machine performs as required
  • Conducted regular maintenance and troubleshooting on CNC machines, ensuring they operate smoothly and efficiently
  • Measured and examined completed parts to verify conformance to specifications using precision tools like micrometers and calipers
  • Selected, aligned, and secured holding fixtures, cutting tools, and materials onto machines
  • Adjusted machine settings to optimize production while maintaining quality
  • Kept a detailed record of processes, tool usage, and production output
  • Adhered to safety protocols and procedures to ensure a safe working environment
  • Collaborated with engineers or designers for custom jobs or to refine manufacturing processes

Soft skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Strong problem-solving 
  • Excellent communication 
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • High level of manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination


  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Vocational or technical training in CNC machining or a related field
  • Apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction can be beneficial
  • Certifications from recognized industry institutions, such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), can be advantageous
  • Continuous professional development to stay updated with new machining technologies and techniques


  • Advanced CNC Programming Certificate (ACNC). Many technical colleges around the United States offer their students this certificate to develop skills in advanced machining and CNC operations. This program also teaches candidates to cut, drill, and shape metal into useful parts. This certificate is ideal for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a CNC machinist.
  • CNC Machining Program. The CNC Machining Program is offered at various technical and regular colleges. Candidates in this program will utilize industry tools, equipment, and procedures as entry-level machinists. Certain skills will be developed throughout the course, including blueprint reading, sketching, design, CNC operation, and CNC program. Earning the certificate that comes along with completing the program will show future employers their passion and commitment to the job.

How to Hire a CNC Machinist

There are a number of initial considerations when hiring a CNC machinist:

  • Recruiting: Do you have the internal resources and tools to successfully source and recruit for this role?
  • Complexity: Does your project require a senior professional, or is a mid- or junior-level inspector sufficient?
  • Duration: Is this a one-time project or a permanent requirement?
  • Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effort effectively?
  • Urgency: How time-sensitive is this need? What happens if it remains unfilled?
  • Headcount: Do you have room on your team for a new W2 employee, or should you consider alternate options?

Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, various great options exist for every scenario, no matter how unique. We recommend the following options when hiring a CNC machinist:

1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)

When working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources, the heavy lifting is done for you. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.

This is the best route to take when:

  • You need to fill the position quickly
  • You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
  • Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
  • You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff. 
  • You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
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2. Advertise your opening on a top job board

Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice. 

We recommend using a job board when:

  • Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
  • You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort 
  • You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
  • You are prepared to respond to all applicants

We recommend CareerBuilder for CNC machinist openings:


CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.

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3. Leverage your internal resources

You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates. 

A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.

We recommend these options when:

  • Your brand has great name recognition
  • You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
  • You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
  • You have an effective employee referral program in place

If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Can you briefly explain your experience with CNC machinery?
  • Which types of CNC machines are you most proficient in operating? For instance, lathes, mills, or routers?
  • What types of materials have you primarily worked with in your past roles as a CNC machinist?
  • Describe a challenging project where you had to interpret complex blueprints or technical drawings. How did you ensure accuracy in your work?
  • Can you explain your process for setting up a CNC machine for a new production run?
  • Describe a time when you had to troubleshoot a problem with a CNC machine. What was the issue, and how did you resolve it?
  • What quality control methods do you employ to ensure the products you create meet specifications and standards?
  • In your experience, what are the critical factors in maintaining a CNC machine’s efficiency and longevity?
  • How do you handle machine malfunctions during a critical production process? Can you share an example?
  • What CAD/CAM software are you familiar with, and how has it helped you in your role as a CNC machinist?
  • How do you ensure compliance with safety regulations and procedures while operating CNC machinery?
  • What steps do you take to optimize machine operations and reduce wastage?
  • Can you explain how you manage your time when dealing with multiple production orders?
  • Describe a situation when you significantly contributed to improving a production process in your previous role.
  • In your view, what are the critical skills a successful CNC machinist should possess, and how have you demonstrated these skills in your career?

Need help hiring a CNC Machinist?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. From filling urgent job openings to developing long-term hiring strategies, our team is here to help. Review our staffing solutions, browse our award-winning Staffing Corner blog, or call today. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

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