CNC Operator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A CNC Operator, or CNC Machinist, is in charge of operating the computer numerical control (CNC) machine. They produce machined parts according to established parameters and specifications. Some perform inspections of industrial machines and work areas. A CNC Operator also calibrates all machines to their proper operating levels.


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CNC Operator duties and responsibilities

A CNC Operator primarily carves and shapes plastics, metals and woods. A vital part of their job is ensuring the accuracy of their machinery. The CNC Operator is expected to perform duties and responsibilities that include:

  • Using the CNC machine 
  • Operating industrial machinery, which can include a hydraulic press, grinder, borer or overhead crane
  • Fitting the right tools to active machines
  • Performing proper set-up and calibration procedures for all equipment and accessories
  • Setting tolerance levels and cutting speeds
  • Translates the requirements of detailed part drawings into measurements for production
  • Inspecting workflows to ensure that technical and quality standards are met
  • Devising a work plan to efficiently carry out daily machining


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What does a CNC Operator do?

A CNC Operator uses the CNC machine to manufacture parts required in a company’s workflow. They follow diagrams or shape parts for custom fittings. A CNC Operator must ensure that machines produce parts that meet quality standards. 


CNC Operator skills and qualifications

A CNC Operator may work across various industries, including the manufacturing, aerospace and automotive sectors. The job is largely technical in nature.A successful CNC Operator candidate must will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that typically include:

  • Maths skills, including geometry and trigonometry
  • Mechanical engineering 
  • Production-machinery maintenance
  • Software programing via CAD and CAM programs
  • Metalworking and machine tooling
  • CNC machine programming
  • Application of ISO quality standards


CNC Operator experience requirements

A CNC Operator is a highly technical job position. Most employers want at least six months of work experience, while some prefer several years of experience, but it depends on the position and the company. Employers may prefer to hire a candidate who has previously worked in the same industry. A CNC Operator can expect to perform similar work across any industry however, the blueprints and part drawings will vary from one company to another.  In addition, CNC Operators transferring to another industry must be aware of all quality control standards. They must also comply with the industry’s safety guidelines.


CNC Operator education and training requirements

A CNC Operator must have training in a Level 1 Certificate in Performing Engineering Operations. A Level 1 Certificate in Engineering and Manufacturing and a Level 2 Certificate in Mechanical Engineering. A CNC Operator needs a minimum of two General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) at grades 3 to 1 for a Level 1 course. This includes a minimum of two GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 for a Level 2 course. Employers also consider CNC Operators that have completed an apprenticeship program.


CNC Operator salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a CNC Operator is £11.37 per hour. The starting salary of a successful candidate may vary depending on the candidate’s level of experience, the location of the job and the company.


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CNC Operator job description FAQs


What is the difference between a CNC Operator and CNC Machinist?

CNC Operators and CNC Machinists generally have the same duties and responsibilities. However, a CNC Machinist usually possesses a higher level of training and expertise and may also perform other roles. These could include fixing mechanical issues in the machine and overseeing quality control. A CNC Machinist would also supervise the CNC Operator. 


What qualities make a good CNC Operator?

A good CNC Operator must have a keen eye for detail as the job involves producing parts that meet specifications. A good candidate must be goal driven and able to meet production targets in tight deadlines. A candidate must be able to show that they can work well with others and on their own.


What should you look for in a CNC Operator CV?

A CNC Operator candidate  should have a minimum of two years of experience. It helps if a candidate already has experience in the industry you operate in. You may also want to consider candidates who have already worked as a CNC Machinist before.  Candidates who have completed the necessary training can also be considered. 


What makes a good CNC Operator job description?

An ideal CNC Operator job description clearly outlines the duties and responsibilities required for the job. This gives the candidate a better idea of what to expect on the job on a daily basis. Also, state the education, experience and any specify software programs knowledge you require. 

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