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Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers (CNC Programmers)

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At A Glance: Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers (CNC Programmers)

Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers are responsible for developing programs that control the machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automated machine tools, equipment, or systems. To write programs, CNC programmers analyze drawings and blueprints and develop programs based on the dimensions of the product. They test their programs on trial runs and analyze the results to adjust their programs. CNC programmers need to work with specialized equipment and computer software to develop programs that accurately produce parts or products. To become a CNC Programmer requires at least a high school diploma and one to two years of on-the-job training. Many employers require the complete of industry certifications or apprenticeships. Computer numerically controlled tool programmers earn approximately $25.57 an hour, and the need for them grows at a much faster than average rate of 15% or more per year.

Entry Level Requirements


High School Diploma

To become a CNC programmer requires at least a high school diploma. Most positions require a post-secondary certificate or associate's degree.
occupation details image

Manufacturing industry:

$26 Billion
annual contribution in Gross Regional Product to the regional economy.

How much can I make?

Hourly Rate: $16 - $40/HR.

Job Details: Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers (CNC Programmers)

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Commonly Performed Tasks

There are many tasks that computer numerically controlled tool programmers must perform regularly. They work with computers and machines to develop products according to project guidelines. CNC programmers often work in a team with engineers, technologists and machine operators to make, tests, and implement production processes.
  • Write programs in the language of a machine's controller and store programs on punch tapes or disks
  • Determine the sequence of machine operations and the cutting tools needed to machine workpieces
  • Revise programs or tapes to eliminate errors and retest programs to check that problems were solved
  • Analyze job orders, drawings, and blueprints to calculate dimensions, tool selection, and feed rates
  • Write instructions and lists for a controller to guide setup and encode numerical control tapes

Required Job Skills

Computer numerically controlled tool programmers require specific skills, abilities, and knowledge to do their jobs effectively. They must be able to program equipment, monitor themselves, others, and organizations and apply corrective actions when necessary. Because they regularly solve problems, they need to be creative and analytical thinkers.
  • Knowledge of computer hardware and softward
  • Concentrate on a task without being distracted
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Knowledge of machines, tools, and materials
  • Identify, analyze, and solve complex problems

Education & Training Information

Programs and Opportunities

Stark State College
Program: Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
Certification: Certificate
Length: 1 Year
Community College of Allegheny County - North Campus
Program: Machine Technician
Certification: Certificate
Length: 18 Months
Westmoreland County Community College
Program: Journeyman Machining Technology
Certification: Certificate
Length: 1 Year
Eastern Gateway Community College - Youngstown Campus
Program: Intro to CNC Mill Programmer
Certification: Certificate
Length: 15-16 Weeks
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Program: Machinist, General
Certification: Certificate
Length: 2 Years
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Program: Machine Tool Technology
Certification: Associate's Degree
Length: 2 Years

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