CNC operator job

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Jack Robinson works in a stone quarry in Huddersfield operated by Johnsons Wellfield Quarries. He uses computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment to process quarried stone. He also uses a selection of heavy-duty equipment, such as overhead cranes.

What does your CNC operator job involve?

I operate the CNC milling, rebate cutting machines (which cut grooves) and sawing equipment to work on the quarried stone. I also load and unload the stone into the machines using overhead equipment, and operate forklift trucks to move larger pieces of stone.

I have also developed new CNC machining techniques and run trials and tests. Our cutting machines use diamond tips and I interact with representatives of large diamond tip producers to place orders for tooling.

Can you describe a typical day?

I don't really have a typical day. My work is always varied and I operate different machinery.

What was your route into to your CNC operator job?

I originally worked at car auctions, but felt the need for a career change. I had an interest in the stone sawing process, and this gave me the opportunity for new career prospects.

I started on a slab splitting machine before changing to a manual saw and a CNC circular saw. I gained experience on this with CNC-based cutting and was given the opportunity to run a small production line.

Why did you choose your CNC operator job?

It is very challenging work. I have to design parts on a computer using 3D drawing software. I can produce a greater range of products using the versatility of CNC machining.

What training have you received?

I have mainly had on-the-job training. This includes overhead crane operation, the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lifting course with reference to slings and straps. I also obtained a forklift operator licence. I receive onsite training from machine suppliers in the operation of software and machine capabilities.

What hours do you work?

I usually work 45 hours a week, including about nine hours overtime.

What do you like best about your CNC operator job?

It is varied and creative, and allows me to complete my work using my own initiative. I can use my imagination combined with machine knowledge to develop the best ways to produce more complex pieces of stone.

What are the main challenges?

Working outside in the winter can be very cold!

What skills do you need to become a CNC operator?

Problem-solving skills and creativity are essential. The ability to work using your own initiative, together with self-motivation and discipline, are necessary in a quarrying environment.

Jack's route to his CNC operator job

  • GCSEs.
  • Started as a CNC operator programmer.
  • On-the-job courses in computer building and fault finding.
  • Forklift operator licence.

Jack's CNC operator tips

  • An interest in stone working and masonry industries is essential.
  • Ensure you are computer literate with an interest in relevant software.
  • Be prepared to use your own initiative on a daily basis.

CNC operator related jobs












  • CAD draughtsperson
  • Crane operator
  • Engineering maintenance technician
  • Engineering operative
  • Quarry worker/Plant operative
  • Toolmaker/Machine setter

Salary of a CNC operator

  • Newly qualified craft machinists earn around £17,000 a year.
  • Senior machinists may earn over £25,000 a year.
  • Production and shift bonuses mean that qualified machinists can earn well above the figures quoted.

CNC operator job

  • The normal way to become an engineering craft machinist is by completing an Apprenticeship in Engineering.
  • Most apprentices enter between the ages of 16 and 18 years, but it is possible to enter up to the age of 25 years.
  • Apprentices can be either an apprentice machinist or a multi-skilled apprentice.
  • Some schools in England and Wales are now offering the new GCSE in engineering. A BTEC first diploma is an alternative to GCSEs and S grades. Young people who do not have exam passes, or cannot find Apprenticeships, could go to college for engineering-related NVQ/SVQ courses.They could then apply for an Advanced Apprenticeship when they finish their course.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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