Stecker Machine Blog

12 Considerations for a Career in CNC Machining

11/02/2023 | Matt Oswald

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According to FlexJobs’ 2023 Spring Work Insights Survey, 58% of employed workers said they’re actively trying to make a career change. That's a huge number!

Why a career change for these jobseekers? Well, #2 on a long list was “higher pay” at 48% (slightly ahead was “remote work options” at 50%). 

So, changing careers isn’t all about money; it’s also about work flexibility, work/life balance, job satisfaction, workplace leadership, a new life philosophy, or working in a field that benefits the world.

Many job hunters we’ve talked to aren’t sure about a career in machining. They don’t know about the day-to-day responsibilities, the culture, and the working environment within a CNC machine shop.

So, we’re sharing 12 statements that we’ve heard people in a CNC machine shop career say over and over. If you agree with 8 or more of these, we think a career in machining is likely perfect for you.

  1. “Education is good, but other things are more important.” Some CNC machine shops encourage high school seniors to participate in youth apprenticeship programs. Combine that experience with a couple classes at a technical college, and that may be enough when applying for full-time work at a CNC machine shop.

TIP: To be a good CNC machine operator, it helps to understand math, measurements, print-reading, and basic computer skills (Windows, keyboarding, etc.). A great attitude is probably the most important thing!


  1. “Trusted opinions can be powerful.” Ask around. Talk with friends, neighbors … anyone who may know about a career in machining. Remember that most job seekers are looking for flexibility, a work/life balance, and overall job satisfaction.

TIP: Go online and research local CNC machine shops. Start some discussions and listen to what other people think about them, how they treat workers, and how they do business.


  1. “I appreciate a good first impression.” Check out the websites of CNC machine shops, look around, and ask yourself some questions. What stands out? What kind of work do they do? How many CNC machines or robots do they have? Does the shop look clean and organized?

TIP: Take online research one step further. Reach out on their careers page, then see if they put effort into contacting you to talk about open positions.


  1. “Training helps boost a career.” A CNC machine shop should be combining classroom learning (CNC theory, tooling, quality and gauging, using an ERP system) with job shadow CNC machine training on the floor. Understanding the fundamentals is key.

TIP: There’s always more to learn in a CNC shop! If you don’t see training information on their website, ask about it when you have a chance.


  1. “Variety makes work more enjoyable.” Many people are attracted to CNC machining because of the range of experiences while working. Again, see if a shop’s website shows different machining and different parts.

TIP: Do you have a false preconceived idea that factory work is very repetitious? Really, CNC operators are often asked to discover the root of a problem and create a creative way to solve it.


Manufacture your career! See open positions at Stecker Machine.

  1. “Not all working environments are the same.” The differences between a CNC machine shop and different types of manufacturers can be huge. Think about cleanliness, safety, air quality/temperature, and other ways team members are treated.

TIP: In your research, have you gotten a feel for a CNC machine shop’s culture? Good ones show respect; the best ones feel like family.


  1. “A comfortable workflow makes days fly by.” Top CNC machine shops establish a rhythm and operate at a comfortable pace. Because doing the job right is so important, the focus is on quality (not just quantity) and staying engaged in the work, which seems to accelerate shifts.

TIP: Dive deeper into CNC machining by reading this article: “What Does a CNC Machine Operator Do?


  1. “Breaks should feel like breaks.” Treating people right — even when they’re not working — is an important aspect of any job. Look for a CNC machine shop that values time away from the machine and has an impressive breakroom.

TIP: Ask about greenspace — picnic tables, a walking path, or some shady trees — that may be enjoyed during breaktime.


  1. “Physical and mental demands must be reasonable.” When compared to other manufacturing jobs, working in a machine shop keeps operators mentally engaged, but it’s not incredibly mind-bending. Physical demands are reasonable (loading, deburring, etc.), with hoists doing the heavy lifting of large parts.

TIP: Are women represented in a CNC machine shop’s social media and website? They should be!



  1. “I want a true career path.” After just 3 months, a new CNC machine operator can be setting up a new job in a CNC Machining Center (preparing the the machine for a specific project). That rapid rise in responsibility gives you an idea for how machine shops work. There are so many paths within a career in machining: programming, quality control, engineering, sales, supervisory positions, etc.

TIP: Show your ambition! Employees are encouraged to gain new skills and take on more responsibilities. Discover if there’s a future for you in CNC machining.


  1. “Promoting from within is smart.” An employer that looks at its current people first when filling a higher position is a good idea, and CNC machine shops are known for it.

TIP: Check LinkedIn and see if a CNC machine shop’s president and managers worked their way up several career steps. Some may even have begun as an operator.


  1. “What I do should make a difference.” Taking a raw material and shaping it into a functional product is rewarding. A CNC machine shop career allows you to feel that way over and over because machined parts are often placed in useful, valuable products.

TIP: Yes, 48% of jobseekers listed “higher pay” as a reason for a career change. The starting pay for a CNC operator can be $18 per hour or more. That wage increases with expertise, experience, taking on difficult parts, and performing setups. Plus, the benefits are top-notch.


Well, how did you score? If you agree with 8 of the 12 statements above, a career in machining would likely have you excited to go to work every morning.

Now, you know that being a CNC machinist is a good career. Learn more about the CNC machining industry right now. Our guide explains a lot. Just click below to access our library of information. Interested in Stecker Machine? Visit our careers webpage.

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Matt Oswald

About the Author

Matt leads SMC's Human Resources and Marketing Team. He has worked for Stecker Machine for over 7 years on projects spanning CNC manufacturing, robotics, inbound marketing, and leadership. He enjoys applying his engineering background to any business challenge.

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