Trades & Services
CNC machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments for engineering and manufacturing.
What does a CNC Machinist do?
CNC machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments used in engineering and manufacturing. They use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools to cut, drill and finish components.
As a CNC machinist, you would:
- work from blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files
- plan the most efficient order of machine operations for the job
- program the machine tool with data
- align, secure, and adjust cutting tools and workpieces
- set and monitor the feed and speed of machines
- turn, mill, shape, and grind machine parts to specifications
- check completed parts against required quality and technical standards.
Machinists can learn to operate a variety of CNC machine tools that can produce a large number of components to the same standard and specification, such as lathes, grinding machines, milling machines, drills and presses.
Key skills and interests
To become a CNC machinist, you would need:
- the ability to read engineering drawings and instructions
- good practical skills
- good maths and computer skills
- concentration and dexterity
- physical stamina
- the ability to work unsupervised.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work a standard number of hours per week, which may include shiftwork.
You would spend most of your time in a factory or workshop, operating and monitoring the machines.
You would do a lot of lifting, either by hand, or using mechanical hoists. You would stand for long periods of time, and perform repetitious movements. For most jobs you would wear protective clothing such as overalls, boots, goggles and earplugs to dampen the noise produced by machinery.
How to become an CNC Machinist?
Entry Level Education
To become a CNC machinist you usually need to gain an apprenticeship in an engineering trade, and complete the relevant VET qualifications. Employers usually require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.
You would receive on-the-job training once you start work. This would include learning how to operate various machines, including health and safety procedures.
Overall employment of CNC machinists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
Machinists will be required to set up, monitor, and maintain these automated systems. As manufacturers invest in new equipment, modify production techniques, and implement product design changes more rapidly, they will continue to rely heavily on experienced machinists.
The projected growth may be offset somewhat by the closure of major manufacturing industries in Australia, such as automotive vehicle manufacturing.