How to Land Your First CNC Machining Job

For those looking for a dynamic, hands-on career without the hefty weight of student debt accumulated over four or more years, a CNC machining job could be the perfect fit for you.

With domestic manufacturing trending upward in the United States, more and more businesses are in need of precision components to feed their growing supply-chain. For machine shops, this means increasing capacity and adding talented employees, which has grown the number of new openings throughout the industry.

The advantages of becoming a CNC machinist are many. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual pay for an entry-level machining position is $44,110 per year or roughly $21/hour.

You get to work on a shop floor as part of a team with long-term, on-the-job training and potential for additional earnings through overtime hours and promotions over time.

Have we officially piqued your interest? Here’s everything you’ll need to know in order to land your first opportunity.

What is CNC & What Does a Machinist Actually Do?

A great place to start is to define the position. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control, which separates this type of work from other methods of machining.

CNC utilizes computer programs to control the machining process and fabricate precision components with a high level of quality and consistency.

Although CNC equipment is powerful and productive, machinists are needed to get production up and running and ensure things operate smoothly from start to finish.

Education Requirements 

Compared to many fields, CNC machining requires very little higher education. Generally, on-the-job training is valued highly because it provides practical application of CNC concepts.

Most jobs simply require a High School Diploma or equivalent with additional technical training.

At Swiss-Tech, we offer apprenticeship programs through local high schools to identify interest and begin training even before you’re able to enter the workforce full-time. These programs help to develop individual skills, such as…

  • Manual/digital micrometer reading
  • Manual processing
  • Job shadowing, etc.

Another route to landing a CNC machining job is to apply to a 2-year CNC program at a technical college. We partner with several area schools to provide ongoing supplemental training for our employees as well as identify talented students to add to our team.

Types of CNC Machining Positions

At Swiss-Tech, we have four classes of machining positions – each performing key roles in keeping the CNC machinery we use (Swiss-type lathes) functioning correctly.

These positions begin by machining relatively simple components with the sophistication of parts, tooling, and programming gradually advancing over time. Of course, as your skill level improves, so will your compensation.

1) Operator

As an entry-level CNC Operator, you’ll be tasked with monitoring the production of simple precision parts to meet designated specifications.

2) Setup 

In a CNC Setup role, an entry-level employee is charged with prepping machines for component production and changing over tooling to produce one particular part to the next.

3) Programmer

As an entry-level CNC Programmer, your main duties are to program machinery for part creation while ensuring cycle times, quality levels, and machine conditions are accurate for the type of component being manufactured. 

4) Finished Machining Department

This role is, essentially, an entry-level, post-production quality control position. You’ll be responsible for correcting imperfections in the parts as a secondary operation before it is considered complete.

These positions typically cross-train to become operators as their skills develop, making it a great place to start as your first CNC machining job.

What We Look for in an Entry-Level Machinist at Swiss-Tech

 We’re always interested in speaking with great candidates who love to work hard and will enjoy a fast-paced manufacturing environment.

In an entry-level machinist, we’re specifically looking for strong mathematic and analytical skills as well as someone who takes a process-focused approach to the work they do.

“It’s important to remember that skilled trades aren’t just learned overnight. If you have a willingness to apply yourself and take your time, you can really find a rewarding career in CNC machining.” – Kristi Granberg, HR & Accounting Manager at Swiss-Tech

As you train, learn, and develop, you continue to be challenged by this ever-changing industry as technology and methods evolve. Are you ready to get your CNC machining career started? Start by filling out our online application.

Swiss-Tech is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. If you have any questions regarding employment, please contact Kristi Granberg at 262-728-6363 Ext. 101.