Is CNC Machining a Good Career

Regardless of what’s happening globally, the manufacturing industry keeps growing and expanding. Even when society almost came to a complete stop a couple of years ago, production and CNC machining kept going at full speed. And the work shows no signs of stopping in the future either. 

The increased demand for manufactured goods and services means there is plenty of work to do and many available job positions. Anyone interested in working with their hands and operating CNC machines can easily find a job in the field. But that raises the question, “Is CNC machining a good career option?”

Join us as we discuss the job prospects waiting for you in the CNC machining sector. Let’s see if pursuing a career as a CNC machinist is professionally fulfilling and lucrative.

Job Prospects in CNC Machining

If you want to start your career in CNC machining, your employment prospects are almost endless. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in working independently or want a position in a well-established CNC manufacturing company; the need for good CNC machinists is always there.

The CNC machining market will grow to 80.4 billion by 2030, and the biggest challenge it faces is finding enough skilled operators and machinists. More and more industries need precision-machined parts, opening many employment opportunities. The manufacturing industries with the highest demand for skilled CNC machinists are:

  • Aerospace industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Mold and die-making
  • Medical devices manufacturing
  • Electronics industry

But is CNC a good career for advancements and promotions? Because the need for this profession is so high, many of these companies do their best to retain their skilled CNC workers. That means giving them ample opportunity to upgrade their skills and climb the corporate ladder. Many workers start as machinists but can quickly advance to supervisors or team leads.

Benefits of a Career in CNC Machining

While loving what you do is always a benefit, most of us go into certain careers for one thing—the salary. The specific amount you can earn doing this job depends on your location and the company you want to work for, but on average, wages are very competitive. According to Glassdoors statistics, the starting pay can be as high as $24 an hour, and you can reach a median salary of $79,000 yearly. And that doesn’t include any benefits or bonuses.

Companies realize what a valuable resource CNC machinists are, so they provide them with additional opportunities for skill development. CNC machines rapidly advance and become more sophisticated. That’s why manufacturers invest in training and further specialization for their workers so they know how to operate the latest CNC technology.

Skills and Qualifications Needed

Do you want to know how to get into CNC machining? It’s one of the rare technical careers that doesn’t require a formal education. Some positions may ask for a college degree in a related field, but most accept candidates with a high school or technical school diploma. Some even acknowledge certificates from CNC training programs organized by trade schools or community colleges. 

Even with the ease of entry, CNC machinists must have some technical skills and knowledge. They must know the basics of:

  • CNC Programming: They must know the basics of G-code and how to program the correct command for the given machining operation.
  • Machine Setup and Operation: They must know how to set up and use various CNC machines.
  • Machining Processes: They must be familiar with the various CNC machining processes like turning, drilling, and milling and know when to use them.
  • Quality Control: They must know how to inspect the machined parts for precision and accuracy.

Soft Skills for Success in CNC Machining

While the job focuses mostly on developing and improving your technical skills and operating the CNC machines, you also need to develop a few essential soft skills, such as:

  • Problem Solving Skills: CNC machining isn’t immune to issues during operations. You must know how to troubleshoot any problems without halting production runs.
  • Attention to Detail:  While highly accurate and precise, CNC machines aren’t infallible. You must develop a meticulous inspection approach to notice and fix even the tiniest flaws in the machined components.
  • Dedication to Safety: This is a physically demanding job that requires operating heavy machinery. You need to focus on what you’re producing and keep yourself and everyone else safe in the process.
  • Good Communication: The CNC machining process has several stages and involves several people. You must keep communication channels open with everyone, from the designer to your supervisor.  

Training and Certification Programs

As we mentioned, you don’t need a higher education or a diploma to work in CNC machining. What you do need is skills and hands-on practice. Pursuing additional certification will make you a more desirable candidate in the eyes of many employers. If you want some extra practice using CNC machines and a certificate for your efforts, consider looking into the following:

  • In-house apprenticeships: Manufacturers know how hard it is to find skilled CNC machinists, so they help create them. Many companies offer apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training. You learn under an experienced machinist and get a certificate proving you successfully completed your training.

  • Community college courses: If you don’t have the time or budget for a 4-year education, many community colleges offer accelerated CNC courses. You start with the theory and graduate to using real CNC machines and creating your parts and components.

  • Online programs: if you need a more flexible learning schedule, online courses allow you to advance at your own pace. They cover the theoretical part of CNC machining and teach you all about G-code programming, using CAM/CAD software, and the many CNC machining functions. The obvious drawback is the lack of practical experience.

  • Workshops and training programs: Organizations like the NIMS offer intensive CNC courses that cover everything from theoretical knowledge to practical skills. They are excellent options for people looking to make a fast career change or advance to a better position.

Continued Education and Professional Development

So, is a CNC machinist a good career that offers professional progress? If you put in the effort and continuously invest in your education, you can easily advance your career in CNC. Manufacturing companies and employers constantly offer advanced training and chances to improve your skills. With the right courses, you can learn additional skills like programming or quality control, opening up new career paths and preparing you for promotions.

Challenges and Considerations

CNC machining offers competitive salaries and plenty of chances for career advancements. It’s a highly sought-after profession that you can use as a jumping-off point to reach greater success in the industry. But it’s not without its risks. CNC machining is a physically and mentally demanding job that requires dedication and hard work.

You’re working with giant machines with many moving and sharp parts that can cause grave injuries if incorrectly handled. You’re constantly on your feet doing repetitive motions, lifting and moving heavy materials.

Thanks to constant manufacturing, the work environment is loud. Workers are also surrounded by dust and tiny debris that are dangerous to inhale. Workers need to wear full PPE equipment to protect their hearing, eyesight, and lungs.

Is a CNC Machinist a Good Career for You

As we clearly demonstrated, this job is the perfect career path for anyone interested in working with high-tech machines and using their hands to turn simple designs into actual products. It offers a competitive salary with many benefits, as well as plentiful opportunities to improve your skills and advance to better positions.

So next time you wonder, “Is CNC machining a good career choice for me?” think of how easy it is to start and how far it can take you.

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