About Us



Follow Us

How Much do CNC Machinists Make in 2023? (Numbers)



John Abraham
Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com


How much do CNC machinist make

CNC machining is an automated system that has been dominating the manufacturing industry.

Although it is an automated manufacturing system, it requires a CNC machinist to ensure the setup, operation, and maintenance of the machines used on the shop floor.

So, How much do CNC machinists make in 2023? Is it a good career choice? What is the future of a CNC machinist?

The average salary of a CNC machinist ranges between $40,000 and $50,000. However, it can vary depending on various factors such as skills, experience, qualifications, work location, and industry. Salary expectations also vary depending on the work location and the employer.

This article discusses how much a CNC machinist makes and talks about various factors that affect the expected salary.

In the end, the article also provides a roadmap for a successful CNC career and helps you decide whether to embark on this career.

MellowPine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

How Much Do CNC Machinists Make?

Programming a CNC machine
CNC machinist operating a CNC machine

According to the statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a CNC machinist in May 2021 was around $47,730.

With the lowest 10% of the machinists earning less than $30,220 and the highest 10% of CNC machinists earning more than $68,250.

Similarly, according to payscale, the average hourly wages of CNC machinists range between $15-$28 with additional benefits such as bonuses, profit sharing, etc., adding up to an annual salary of around $31,000-$60,000.

Therefore, CNC machinist is an excellent career choice for individuals who enjoy working with different CNC machines and are keen on learning the operation and maintenance procedures of new machines.

Factors that Determine the Salary of CNC Machinists

To become a successful CNC machinist with an above-average pay scale, you need to ensure that you develop certain skills, gain experience, get the desired qualifications and aim for the best workplace in the field.


Design and Measurements
Blueprints and caliper

A CNC machinist is responsible for analyzing the requirement by reading the blueprints, setting up the CNC machine for operation, and monitoring the process to ensure quality results.

Apart from that, CNC machinists are also responsible for tasks such as tool change, workpiece alignment, maintenance of the machine, etc.

All these activities require a diverse skill set ranging from instrumentation and measurement to safety and solutions.

CNC machinists must have excellent knowledge of different measuring devices, such as calipers and micrometers, and good maths skills to ensure that the produced output is in line with the requirement.

Apart from that, they also require good communication skills to brief the CNC operators about the operation and safety of the machining process.

Quick learning and knowledge about the operation of different CNC machines are also highly valued by employers when looking for a capable CNC machinist.


A CNC machinist must have ample workshop experience to understand different machining operations.

The higher the experience, the better a CNC machinist can perform on the shop floor and the higher will be his salary.

Generally, a CNC machinist must have around 3-4 years of experience as a CNC operator.

These years of experience help an individual to understand the operation of different CNC machines and develop skills to regulate the machining parameters and produce the products with desired quality.

A CNC machinist with 5-6 years of job experience can expect hourly wages of around $20-$25, which adds up to an annual salary of around $51,000-$62,000.



Another important factor that determines the salary expectations of a CNC machinist is the educational qualifications.

The minimum educational qualification for the role of a CNC machinist is a high school diploma, but the higher the qualification the better the chances for growth in the industry.

Therefore, it is recommended to get certification courses in the field of CNC machining to boost your career and aim for a higher salary.

Furthermore, an engineering graduate with good CAD/CAM skills and a few years of experience as a CNC machinist can be eligible for the role of CNC programmer, leading to a better salary.

Type of Industry

Type of IndustryAnnual Mean Wage
Transportation equipment manufacturing$49,010
Machinery manufacturing$47,700
Machine shops$47,510
Employment services$30,500
Top paying industries for CNC machinists

Generally, specialization industries with the lowest employment for CNC machinists have the highest annual average salary, and therefore require highly skilled and qualified individuals.

However, when considering general-purpose industries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Transportation equipment manufacturing as the highest average annual wages industry for CNC machinists ($49,010), followed by Machinery manufacturing ($47,700) and Machine shops ($47,510).

Whereas the lowest annual wages of around $30,500 were recorded in the Employment services industry.

Apart from that, the company you work for is also an important factor in determining the salary expectations of a CNC machinist.

A CNC machinist working for a renowned brand with years of experience in the manufacturing industry will earn comparatively more than a machinist working in a small-scale business.

Workplace Location

StateAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia$85,600
Top 10 paying states for CNC machinists according to BLS

Workplace location also plays an important role in determining the salary expectancy of a CNC machinist.

According to May 2021 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the District of Columbia, with an average annual wage of around $85,600, ranked number one on the list of top-paying states for Machinists.

Followed by Alaska ($70,920), Hawaii ($70,760), Washington ($60,080), and Maryland ($59,810).

Therefore, your salary expectations should be based on the area that you work in. However, you can also opt to relocate to a state that provides a better salary and facilitates career growth.

Roadmap For a Successful Career in CNC Workshop

Growth in a CNC industry
Growth in a CNC industry

The roadmap to becoming a CNC machinist and having constant growth throughout your career involves gradual steps with constant training and certification courses to develop your skills.

CNC Operator

CNC operator is an entry-level role in a CNC workshop where the individual is responsible for the operation of the CNC machine.

They are responsible for monitoring the manufacturing process and reporting any abnormality to the CNC machinist.

The minimum qualification to become a CNC operator include a high school diploma with basic knowledge of machining operations.

CNC operators take in instructions from a CNC machinist and perform the same operations every day to ensure a smooth flow of manufacturing.

Therefore, a CNC machinist must have around 5-6 years of experience as a CNC operator.

Apart from that, you can also undergo certification courses from organizations like National Institute for Metalworking Skills and develop the necessary skills to lead a team of CNC operators.

CNC Machinist

CNC machinist is a mid-senior level role where the individual is responsible to read and interpret the requirements and plan a manufacturing process.

A machinist is also responsible to ensure the desired output, and train the CNC operators to perform the required machining operation.

After gaining years of job experience as a CNC machinist, you can undergo training programs to develop CAD/CAM skills and operate various CNC software.

Such software is used to program CNC machines, thereby providing you the opportunity to become a CNC machinist programmer.

CNC Programmer

A CNC programmer is a highly skilled and experienced individual who is well-informed about shop floor activities like operating and maintaining CNC machines and is also familiar with CNC programming.

The primary role of a CNC machinist programmer is to understand requirements, take in the machining parameters from the CNC machinist, and program the CNC machines accordingly.

A CNC programmer requires excellent computer knowledge with an understanding of G-code programming and various CNC software like CAD, CAM, control, and simulation.

Apart from that, CNC machinist programmers must also be familiar with G-code editing software to modify the machining operation and produce the desired results.

But is CNC programming a good career choice?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNC programmers earn an average annual salary of around $62,000, making it one of the highest-paying jobs in the CNC environment.

Therefore, it is advised to constantly learn new skills and undergo certification training programs for constant career growth.

Final Thoughts

CNC machinist is an excellent career choice that can get you a good annual wage.

Depending upon their skills and the type of industry they work in, CNC machinists can earn anywhere between $30,000 to $60,000.

Although most people fear the decline in the need for CNC machinists in the future, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted a 2% raise by the year 2023, ensuring a safe career for aspiring candidates.

However, it is advised to develop new skills and undergo courses for constant career growth to eventually become a CNC programmer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which is the best state to work as a CNC machinist?

According to BLS, the District of Columbia, followed by Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington are the top-paying states for CNC machinists. However, these states have a low employment rate and hence the competition to get a job. On the other hand, states such as Ohio, California, Michigan, and Texas have the highest employment rate, and therefore offer greater opportunities.

What skills does a CNC machinist require?

A CNC machinist requires instrumentation and measurement skills, math skills, problem-solving skills to overcome issues during production, management skills to lead a team of CNC operators, and safety skills to ensure safety during the machining operations.

Is CNC programming hard to learn?

No, basic CNC programming is not hard to learn. Performing simple DIY machining operations require a few days of training to learn the required skills. However, programming professional CNC machines, such as 6-axis CNC machines or multi-spindle lathes requires years of practice and intensive training to master the skill.

John Abraham
Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com