CNC Machinist

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CNC (computer numerically controlled) machinists set up and operate the machine tools which cut, shape, drill and finish metal and other materials to make precision engineering parts. You use a CNC machine for precision cutting. This involves inputting instructions into a computer panel.

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

A Modern Apprentice may start on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). At present the apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £4.81 an hour (1 April 2022). Some employers may pay their apprentices more.

The starting salary for CNC machinists is normally around £17,000 a year. With experience this can rise to £21,000 to £25,000 a year. Senior machinists may earn up to over £40,000 a year. Bonuses and extra pay for shift work are common.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

There are opportunities for CNC machinists in a range of industries, such as aerospace, ship building, manufacturing engineering, motor vehicles, office machinery and agricultural machinery. There are also opportunities in the Armed Forces.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland

0.5 %

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What Does it Take?

You need to be:

You need to be able to:


Getting On

More Information

The Engineering Council sets and maintains the standards of the engineering profession in the UK.

The Tomorrow’s Engineers website has more information on careers in engineering.


Credit to WorldSkills UK


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Enginuity (formerly SEMTA)
Tel: 0845 643 9001
Twitter: @Enginuity_Org

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Career Area


Career Sectors

Aeronautical Engineering

Chemical and Materials Engineering

Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Engineering General

Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (including Fabrication and Welding)

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Offshore and Energy