What is a CNC Machine Operator?

What is a CNC Machine Operator?

by Jane Melcher
Updated on
A CNC machine operator is a highly skilled professional who uses computer-controlled machinery to create precise components and products. CNC machine operators are an essential part of the manufacturing process, and their work is critical to the success of any manufacturing business.


What is a CNC Machine Operator?

A CNC machine operator is a person who operates a CNC machine. A CNC machine is a machine that is used to cut and shape metal and other materials. CNC stands for "computer numerical control." CNC machine operators use machines that are controlled by computers. These machines can be used to make very precise cuts and shapes.


The History of CNC Machine Operators

The history of CNC machine operators is a long and complicated one. Though the technology has been around for centuries, it wasn't until the 1950s that CNC machine operators began to become widespread. In the early days of CNC machine operation, only a handful of companies used the technology. These companies were mostly large aerospace or defense contractors.


The Duties of a CNC Machine Operator

A CNC machine operator is responsible for the set up, operation, and maintenance of computer numerical controlled machines. As a CNC machine operator, your duties include reading and understanding blueprints or engineering plans, as well as using precision measuring tools to ensure that components meet specifications. In some cases, you may also be responsible for programming the machine.


The Skills Required to be a CNC Machine Operator

In order to become a CNC machine operator, one must first obtain the necessary education and training. There are many trade schools and community colleges that offer programs in machining, although a high school diploma is generally required for admission. Many employers also require CNC machine operators to have prior experience working with industrial machines.

Once someone has completed their education and training, they must then obtain a certification from a recognized body in order to begin working as a CNC machine operator. There are many different types of certifications available, but the most common is the Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). The MSSC is a nationally recognized organization that provides certification for production technicians in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, assembly, quality control, and maintenance.

Once someone has obtained their CPT certification, they can then begin searching for employment as a CNC machine operator. Many times, these positions will be listed as entry-level or inexperienced positions; however, some employers may prefer to hire candidates with previous experience working with industrial machines.


The Education and Training Needed to be a CNC Machine Operator

CNC machine operators work with computer numeric controlled machines to create parts from raw materials. These operators load the raw materials into the CNC machine, ensure that the machines are operating correctly and supervise the production process. CNC machine operators typically need at least a high school diploma and on-the-job training to enter the occupation. Some employment opportunities might require completing a vocational certificate program or an associate's degree in CNC machining.

Most CNC machine operators receive on-the-job training that lasts several months to a year. New workers are usually paired with experienced workers and receive gradual responsibility as they learn the job. Some employers might require their workers to complete a vocational certificate program or an associate's degree in CNC machining before they are hired.


The Salary of a CNC Machine Operator

CNC machine operators are specialized machinists who work with computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines. CNC machines are used to manufacture parts for a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive and medical. CNC machine operators must have strong math skills, manual dexterity and good eye-hand coordination. They must be able to follow instructions and blueprints precisely.

Most CNC machine operators have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts about a month. Some CNC machine operators may receive more formal training at a technical school or community college. The median annual salary for CNC machine operators was $38,790 in May 2016.


The Job Outlook for CNC Machine Operators

CNC machine operators are in demand across a range of industries, from automotive and aerospace to electronics and medical devices. The job outlook for CNC machine operators is positive, with an expected growth of 12% from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.*

CNC machine operators work with computer numeric control (CNC) machines to create parts and products from a variety of materials. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and blueprints, and CNC machines to produce finished products.

CNC machine operators must be able to set up the machines, load the correct tools and materials, and operate the machines according to safety guidelines. They must also be able to troubleshoot problems that arise during production.

If you are interested in becoming a CNC machine operator, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may require you to have previous experience with CNC machines or related technology. There are also training programs available that can teach you the skills you need to be successful in this career.


The Pros and Cons of Being a CNC Machine Operator

CNC machine operators are in high demand due to the increasing popularity of automated manufacturing. There are many benefits to becoming a CNC machine operator, such as good pay and job security. However, there are also some drawbacks to the job, such as the potential for repetitive motion injuries.

PROS

  • Good pay: CNC machine operators earn a median salary of $50,000 per year.
  • Job security: The demand for CNC machine operators is expected to grow by 10% over the next decade. 
  • Benefits: Most CNC machine operators receive health insurance and other benefits from their employers.

CONS

  • Repetitive motion injuries: CNC machine operators may be at risk for repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, due to the nature of their work. 
  • Skills required: CNC machine operators must have strong computer skills and be able to work with precision.


10 Reasons to Become a CNC Machine Operator

1.CNC machine operators are in high demand.

2.The average salary for a CNC machine operator is $40,000 per year.

3.CNC machine operators can find work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, aerospace, and automotive.

4.CNC machine operators use computer-controlled machines to create products from start to finish.

5.CNC machine operators typically work in teams and often collaborate with other professionals, such as engineers and designers.

6.CNC machine operators typically work regular hours in well-lit and climate-controlled facilities.

7.CNC machine operation is a skilled trade that can be learned through formal training programs or on-the-job experience.

8.Many CNC machine operators are members of unions, which negotiate for better wages and working conditions on their behalf.

9.CNC machine operator jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 9 percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*

10.Becoming a CNC machine operator can lead to other interesting and well-paying jobs, such as CNC programming or CNC maintenance.*


5 Reasons Not to Become a CNC Machine Operator

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” And while that may be good life advice in some cases, there are definitely some occupations that you should think twice about before pursuing. Here are five reasons why you might not want to become a CNC machine operator:

  1. You could be putting your health at risk - CNC machine operators work with machines that emit harmful fumes and dust. These particles can cause respiratory problems and other health issues.
  2. The job can be repetitive and boring - If you’re looking for a job that offers variety, CNC machine operation is probably not the right fit for you. The same tasks are performed over and over again, which can quickly become monotonous.
  3. You need to be comfortable with technology - Operating a CNC machine requires a certain level of comfort with technology. If you’re not familiar with computers and other types of machinery, this job may not be right for you.
  4. The hours can be long and irregular - CNC machine operators often work long hours, including nights and weekends. If you’re not comfortable with irregular hours, this job may not be a good fit for you.
  5. The job outlook is declining - Due to advances in technology, the demand for CNC machine operators is declining. This means that job prospects are not as good as they once were and competition for jobs is stiff.

Image source: resources.workable.com

About the author

Jane Melcher

Jane is a stay-at-home small business mom. She makes more than her husband selling her creations on Etsy.

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