CNC MachinistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists develop and operate computer and mechanically controlled tools to produce other instruments and apparatus. They control the machinery that produces the speed and cuts to create a specific part. CNC machinists program CNC machinery to determine the rate and cuts of production. 

Sample job description #1

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/or experience

  • High School Diploma or GED
  • 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

Sample job description #2

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

Sample job description #3

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
  • In order 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.

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a CNC machinist is 47,850 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$47,600$64,400
Los Angeles, California$53,700$72,650
Denver, Colorado$44,750$60,550
Washington, DC$54,500$73,750
Miami, Florida$44,550$60,250
Orlando, Florida$41,100$55,600
Tampa, Florida$41,500$56,150
Atlanta, Georgia$43,500$58,900
Chicago, Illinois$50,050$67,700
Boston, Massachusetts$54,100$73,200
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$43,110$58,350
New York City, New York$56,950$77,050
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$46,350$62,750
Dallas, Texas$45,150$61,100
Houston, Texas$44,750$60,550
Seattle, Washington$52,050$70,450
National Average$40,700$55,050

Sample interview questions

  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What qualities should every CNC machinist have?
  • What machines have you worked with? What did you build?
  • What machine brands are you used to handling?
  • How do you perform routine maintenance on CNC machines?
  • What experience do you have reading blueprints and schematics?
  • How do you inspect finished goods?
  • What is your favorite product you’ve created?
  • Have you ever disagreed with a coworker? If so, how did you handle the situation?
  • How do you handle difficult clients?
  • Walk me through the process of learning a new machine.
  • How do you deal with strict deadlines? 
  • Tell me about a recent goal you have set for yourself.
  • What made you interested in CNC machining? 
  • What experience do you have with programming?
  • Tell me about the most difficult material you had to work with. 
  • Are you okay with working overtime during busy weeks?

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