There are four steps required to become a CNC machinist: post-secondary training, related work experience, certification, and completing the job interview process. A computer numerical controlled (CNC) machinist works with large machines that translate a three dimensional design into a physical product. This career is forecast to experience below average growth in the next five to ten years in North America, as the manufacturing sector continues to relocate to other nations.
The CNC machine take a computer file from a computer assisted design (CAD) program and uses it to determine which tools are required and when. This machine has multiple tools that are often combined into a single cell or unit. The program provides the details of the design, but it is the machinist’s role to ensure that the program is correct and creates the desired product in the most efficient manner possible.
People who are mechanically inclined, skilled at working with tools, and have excellent hand-to-eye coordination find the greatest enjoyment in this role. While this career has traditionally been male-dominated, an increasing number of women are training to become a CNC machinist. A CNC machinist is responsible for the programming, maintenance, and operation of the CNC machine. These machines are found in manufacturing facilities and range in price from $200,000 to $5 million US Dollars (USD).
The first requirement to become a CNC machinist is to complete a post-secondary education program. This program is available from a wide range of community and career colleges. Although there used to be a range of apprentice opportunities available to become a CNC machinist, this is no longer the case. Instead, candidates are required to complete a training program first, and then apply for a position.
Related work experience is obtained through on-the-job training as part of the CNC machinist training program. During a job placement course, candidates have an opportunity to practice skills learned in the classroom and gain both experience and references. Talk with the admissions counselor about the type of job placement programs available.
CNC machinist is a skilled trade and is regulated by the government. All machinists must complete a certification examination to become a journeyman machinist. The examination is usually multiple choice and is designed to test the basic knowledge of the candidate, as well as ensure he or she is aware of all the related safety requirements for this job.
During the job interview process, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Some employers will have a short test of your mechanical skills as part of the interview process. Although there are limited advancement opportunities for a CNC machinist within an organization, a skilled machinist can increase his salary significantly throughout his career. A master machinist is an expert in the field and can design new products, train new staff, and manage several other machinists.