How Much Does It Cost to Become a CNC Machinist?

Have you ever held and inspected a well-constructed tool or manufacturing part?

You’ll first notice the proper balance, weight, and entirely accurate design of a component designed for a specific purpose.

These tools were likely designed and built by a CNC machinist who uses technology to craft steel into functional items.

If you have a knack for producing new materials, managing software, and getting your hands dirty, becoming a CNC machinist may be an illustrious career choice.

However, there is an investment to master this craft.

Continue reading to learn more!


How Much Does It Cost to Complete CNC Machinist School?

There are several factors influencing the cost of a CNC machinist school, including the following:

Certifications, Apprenticeships, and Specialized Training

Budding CNC machinists have two advancement options: enrolling in a program or entering an apprenticeship.

Those opting for the latter will enter the industry faster and not have any educational debt once the apprenticeship ends.

Industry associations, states, and organizations offer many paid apprenticeships to learn the ropes.

Some have fees or are a greater time investment but will better prepare you for the job.

Also, those seeking advanced or specialized certifications can expect annual and examination fees.

Grants and Scholarships

Many students fund their education through a combination of personal funding, loans, grants, and scholarships.

One of the best resources to find grants and scholarships is through the Imagine America Foundation, which has an extensive system of partner schools offering different funding opportunities.

These programs give students a tuition discount to make education affordable.

Program Length

The program length is the greatest defining characteristic of machinist school cost.

Most diploma and certificate programs only last one year, so they are at the lower end of the range.

If you do go this route, make sure to solve an online practice test for CNC Machinists before taking the final test.

Those pursuing an associate degree, which takes around two years, will pay at the middle and higher end of the range for a more comprehensive education.

Including these factors, the average cost of a CNC degree ranges from $3,000 to $20,000.

Is a CNC Machinist License Required?

A CNC machinist license is not required to enter the workforce, only an apprenticeship or education.

However, once you enter the field, there are multiple specializations available The Certified Manufacturing Technology Sales Engineer is for those who sell CNC equipment.

The credential proves manufacturing technology, customer service, sales, and business knowledge.

The Certified Metalworking Fluids Specialist is offered by the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers for those who work in metalworking fluid management.

The designation analyzes the candidate’s knowledge of tooling filtration, metallurgy, and machining processes.

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) offers the CNC Mill Programming Setup and Operations certificate that proves the machinist can manage equipment, maintain records, and operate CNC milling equipment, including hardware programming.

The Grinding I designation is also provided by NIMS to validate the expert’s basic knowledge of surface grinding applications.

The certificate demonstrates the professional’s ability to mount and balance grinding wheels, read prints, and configure machines.

The Manufacturing Technician Level I certification is available from the Manufacturing Skills Institute and demonstrates that the candidate holds specific competencies required for production- and manufacturing-related positions.

The Milling I certification is offered by NIMS as one of the classic credentials.

This designation demonstrates the machinist’s knowledge of safety standards, machine operations, and process planning.

Finally, the Precision Sheet Metal Operator certification is provided by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International.

This certification measures the professional’s knowledge of mechanical finishing, laser cutting, and shearing.

What Are the Additional Costs After Becoming a CNC Machinist?

For those looking to enter the workforce with an established toolmaking company, then no additional costs are required.

Those who want to start a machine shop should anticipate having a loan of at least $500,000, depending on the cost of living in the area.

In addition to purchasing machining and tooling equipment, factor in additional labor, overhead, systems, electronic equipment, and maintenance.

Many of these items can be purchased used, or rented to save money, but it’s important to have a larger loan than necessary so you don’t run out of capital.

Is Becoming a CNC Machinist a Good Investment?

If you enjoy working with your hands, are engineering-minded, love to create, and enjoy working with different material types, then becoming a CNC machinist is a good financial and time investment.

You must be passionate about your career, so checking these boxes is important.

You can learn more here about the pros and cons of being a CNC machinist.

For those who prefer working for another company, then this is a smart choice.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then making the right equipment investments can help get you started quickly with some help from the bank.

Key Takeaways

To become the master of your craft, there are certainly costs to becoming a CNC machinist.

Those who choose the educational path will pay between $3,000 and $20,000 depending on the length of the program, grants, certifications, and specialized training.

Those who opt for an apprenticeship will pay nothing.

Once you graduate, choosing to work for an established company won’t cost you any money, but starting a business will.


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