Everything You Want to Know About CNC Machining Training and Careers


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Advancements in computer technology have created new career paths for those interested in the trades. These positions are part technician, part computer scientist and all innovation.

If you want to work with your hands and further your computer skills, then you may want to consider a career as a CNC machinist.

What Is a CNC Machine?

Computer numerical control (CNC) machines are precision tools designed for shaping and cutting metals and a variety of other materials. They are a combination of mechanics and technology that produces durable parts for modern machinery.

CNC machines are composed of a machine such as a lathe, mill or grinder combined with a computer system that is operated by a highly trained machinist. The CNC machinist uses the computer to set parameters for the machine so it can translate digital designs into physical products.

What Does a CNC Machinist Do?

CNC machines are complex, and skilled machinists are needed to run them.

A CNC machinist ensures the machines they’re working with are set up correctly, running smoothly and creating products that meet the required specifications for the part. As the machine runs, the machinist will adjust it to control the speed, material feed and path of the cut.

Some CNC machinists specialize in working with one type of machine, while others work on many different machines. Machinists are often responsible for stocking their machines and regularly checking to ensure the parts they’re creating are up to standard. They play a vital role in the production process, helping to ensure the end product is of the highest quality.

Read: What Does a CNC Machinist Do?

CNC Machinist Careers

CNC machines are heavily relied upon by manufacturers who supply parts to a variety of industries, including:

  • Transportation
  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Commercial
  • Firearms
  • Electronics
  • Optical
  • Medical
  • Marine
  • Oil and gas

There are many different job opportunities for those interested in the CNC industry, whether it be working as a machine operator, quality control inspector or design engineer. Many machinists start their career in an operator position and eventually work their way up to a programmer role, where they interpret project blueprints, design programs and set up machines to run on the program they created.

Learn more about the different opportunities for CNC machinists in this career guide.

Is CNC Machining a Good Career?

The simple answer to this question is yes! For those who enjoy problem solving and working with their hands, CNC machining can be a great choice.

Here are a few signs a CNC machining career might be right for you:

  • You’re interested in technology, but also love working with your hands
  • You’re detail oriented
  • You’re creative
  • You have good time-management skills
  • You enjoy making processes more efficient
  • You’re always up for a challenge
  • You’re a problem solver
  • You’re adaptable

Is There a Demand for CNC Machinists?

Job outlook is an important factor to consider when looking into any career. CNC machinists play a vital role in the manufacturing our country relies on. As these industries continue to grow and the older generations of machinists leave the workforce, new opportunities could open up for those skilled in the trade.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states with the highest employment level in this occupation include:

  • Wisconsin
  • Ohio
  • California
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Overall, one of the many benefits of choosing a career in CNC is the variety of industries you can go into. Having transferable skills can set you up for a long, fulfilling career in the field.

CNC Machinist Salary: How Much Do CNC Machinists Make?

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for computer numerically controlled tool operators in the United States was $46,760 in May 2022.34 This means half of CNC machinists earned more and half earned less.

Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area. To learn more about what CNC machinists are making in different areas, check out our state-specific salary guide.

Instructor pointing at machine monitor

CNC Machinist Training: How to Become a CNC Machinist

NASCAR Technical Institute, a division of Universal Technical Institute, helps students prepare for careers in the growing field of CNC machining. The Mooresville, North Carolina, campus offers an exclusive 36-week training program on industry-preferred tools.

For graduate Darin Rand, NASCAR Tech’s CNC machining program was a launching pad for reaching his goal of working in the racing industry.24 On his first day in the CNC machining program, Rand’s dream of working for NASCAR became closer to becoming a reality after he shared his career goals with his instructor.

“I talked to him about what I wanted to do in racing and NASCAR. Roush Yates came to him and they were looking for a good starting student, and he told them about me and that’s how it got rolling,” Rand said.

Because of that fateful conversation with his instructor, Rand was referred to performance engine manufacturer Roush Yates for an upcoming opportunity in their machine shop.

While he was completing his training at NASCAR Tech, Rand received a full-time offer from Roush Yates. The weekend after his graduation, Rand was in Roush Yates’ shop fulfilling his dream of building racing engines for NASCAR.

Advice on How to Get Into CNC Machining

When it comes to starting a career in CNC machining, it can be helpful to hear from someone who’s done it before. According to Rand, “My piece of advice would be to stick with it. It’s hard to understand if you don’t have any background, but once you get going you’ll fly through it pretty easy.”6

Students smiling in training

He encourages students to take advantage of NASCAR Tech’s relationships and recommends the CNC Machining Technology program as having “all the tooling you need to be successful” that can help them develop the skills they need.2

CNC Machinist Training

Wondering where you can get trained to become a CNC machinist? Consider enrolling in the CNC Machining Technology program offered at NASCAR Technical Institute. Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, NASCAR Tech is home to aspiring automotive technicians and CNC machinists from around the country.

If pursuing your dream to become a CNC machinist requires you to relocate, know that NASCAR Tech’s Housing Assistance team can work with you to find living arrangements conveniently located close to campus.

Related Questions

Browse the information below to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about careers in CNC machining.

What Are CNC Machinist Requirements?

Typically, CNC machinists must have a high school diploma or GED. From there, some choose to learn skills on the job, while others complete a formal training program, like the program offered at NASCAR Tech. This can be a great way to catch the eye of employers and get a head start on learning the skills you’ll need to know for your career.

Do You Need a CNC Machinist Certificate to Work in the Field?

Certification is sometimes required for technicians, but this isn’t always the case in the CNC industry. While NASCAR Tech doesn’t offer certifications through the CNC Machining Technology program, the curriculum follows guidelines from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills. This helps to ensure students are learning what is expected by the industry.

How Long Does It Take to Become a CNC Machinist?

The length of time to become a CNC machinist can vary depending on the route you take to get there. On-the-job training can sometimes take several years, whereas NASCAR Tech’s program is designed to prepare you for entry-level jobs in the field in just 36 weeks.

Is CNC Machining Hard to Learn?

The CNC industry is quite complex, which can make it challenging to learn. However, with time, proper education and hands-on experience, you can be on your way to mastering it.

What CNC Classes Are in the Program at NASCAR Tech?

Students in the CNC Machining Technology program dive into a variety of topics, from interpreting blueprints to using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. Check out our CNC course guide for a full list of classes in the program.

Ready to Start Training?

The CNC Machinist Training program starts every six weeks, so you’re able to get going and prepare for your career sooner. To learn more, visit our program page and request information to get in touch with an Admissions Representative today.

NASCAR Technical Institute Campuses That Offer CNC Training

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1.4 ) NASCAR Technical Institute is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2 ) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
6 ) UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
24 ) NASCAR Technical Institute prepares graduates to work as entry-level automotive service technicians. Some graduates who take NASCAR-specific electives also may have job opportunities in racing-related industries. NASCAR Tech is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
34 ) UTI’s CNC Machining Technology Program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as CNC machinists. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a CNC technician, such as CNC operator, apprentice machinist, and machined parts inspector. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary for persons employed as Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic (51-4011) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $35,140 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled CNC machinists in North Carolina is $22.01 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $17.28 and $14.82, respectively.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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