The manufacturing industry is ever growing and in need of talented, passionate employees with skills and experience. This job spotlight focuses on CNC programmers, who help to create precise metal worked products for use in many industries, outlining required skills, qualifications and experience.

Here at BMR Solutions we help candidates find their ideal engineering or manufacturing job in the UK in multiple sectors. Whether you have practical skills to become a maintenance engineer or programming expertise to become a CNC programmer, we can help you find your dream job.

What is a CNC Programmer?

CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines are used to manufacture functional items including parts for a range of vehicles. CNC machines precisely cut metal for medical, automotive, aerospace sectors, to name but a few.

A CNC programmer, therefore, designs programs and sets up the CNC machines to produce products using blueprints and technical drawings. CNC programmers use CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) programmes to develop the code required to input into the CNC machine, in the form of “G-code”.

Beyond inputting code to program CNC machines, CNC programmers also have to perform test runs, decide on the best cutting tools to use and make amendments to the program, all to ensure precision when cutting. Additionally, CNC programmers have to maintain CNC machines with basic cleaning and upkeep.

Similar jobs to a CNC programmer include; manufacturing technician, machinist, fabricators, assemblers, metal patternmakers, mechanical technicians. These jobs entail working with materials, usually metal, to carefully create precise products according to specifications.

See more: Skills Spotlight: CAD (Computer Aided Design) Tips for Engineers

CNC Programmer Job Description

The job description for a CNC programmer will likely stay consistent across company and location. Although working hours and salary may differ, the day to day responsibilities stay the same for most CNC programmers.

Here is a list of typical responsibilities of the role:

  • Read technical drawings and use them to set up CNC machines
  • Model cutting paths with software
  • Program machines using CAM for coding
  • Quality check products and ensure specification is met
  • Make adjustments to CNC machine paths
  • Evaluate proper tools for cutting various materials
  • Assess health of CNC machines and resolve issues if they occur
  • Maintain CNC machines with basic cleaning and sharpening
  • Assist others with CNC machining if needed

CNC Programmer Salary

As with any engineering or manufacturing job, earnings are likely to increase with experience and time.

CNC programmers’ salaries range from £19,000-£35,000. The average salary for a CNC programmer is mid-high £20,000s.

Find out about 5 high paying manufacturing jobs with our helpful blog.

CNC Programmer Job Progression

Becoming a CNC programmer can be an effective way to begin a career in the manufacturing industry, presenting opportunity to develop and progress into different job roles. As expected, more senior or advanced job roles have larger salaries.

One route is to become a supervisor and use experience and practical knowledge to inform and train others on CNC machines. Or, focus on the products and output as a production manager. For those with a real eye for detail, quality inspection is another future option.

CNC Programmer Qualifications and Education

To become a CNC programmer there are a few key skills and aspects that employers look for;

  • Experience in manufacturing setting
  • Attention to detail
  • Skilled at technical drawing interpreting

As the CNC machines require software and understanding of technical drawings, the above are critical to success at CNC programming. Other desirable, but not necessarily required skills include:

  • Good understanding of software (i.e. CAM)
  • Mechanical understanding or logical mind
  • Able to work independently
  • Can stand for long periods of time

Through experience, possible candidates will be able to display an ability to perform as a CNC programmer.


Most employers want CNC programmer applicants to have at least GCSEs (standard expectation is at least 5 A*-Cs), however a bachelor’s degree in a relation field, such as engineering, may be required for some employers.

Depending on experience or education, an apprenticeship can be a popular alternative to higher education for people beginning their careers. Apprenticeships provide on-site learning as well as earning an income. Some may even choose to retrain in engineering or manufacturing later in life.

For those of school-leaving age, some appropriate college courses that could lead to a job in CNC programming include:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Performing Engineering Operations
  • Level 1 Certificate in Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Level 2 Certificate in Mechanical Engineering

Get Started with BMR Solutions

If you are looking to start your career in CNC programming or take on a new engineering role, get in touch with our expert team at BMR Solutions. Backed by many years’ experience in supporting employers and helping candidates secure their ideal role, we match businesses and people within the mechanical, electrical, manufacturing and engineering industries across the UK.

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