The Career Path to Become a CNC Machine Operator

June 7th, 2016

Interested in becoming a CNC machine operator? While there are a number of education requirements, training and experience you will require, this exciting and innovative career path is one that we are seeing high potential in. Today’s article will discuss the necessary steps you will need to take to become a qualified CNC machine operator.

About CNC Machine Operation

CNC Machine Operators are tasked with the necessary set up and operation of computer numerically controlled machines (aka CNC machines). These machines are regularly used in the metalworking industry, and job duties of machine operators include loading materials, setting tools according to job order, monitoring machine operation during use, and machine cleaning and preparation. CNC machinists are expected to document their jobs and monitor supplies. While operating CNC machines can be dangerous if done without the proper protections, operators are trained in the safety requirements and regulations necessary to operate the machinery as safely as possible. 

Career Requirements

In preparation for this career path, certified CNC Machine Operators generally have a college or trade school degree with a focus in machine technology or CNC machine operations. They are then certified through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) or the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International. Experience in machine operations of at least one year will help solidify your resume, along with skills in mechanics, familiarity with CNC programming software, the ability to read blueprints, operate tools such as calipers, micrometers, lathes, and mills, and enough physical strength and stamina to work while standing and the ability to life up to 75 pounds of material on a regular basis.

How to Become a CNC Machine Operator

Knowing the requirements and skills needed to become a CNC machine operator is a great first step in this engaging career. But depending on where you are in your own path can determine what steps you should take to get there. First, candidates should earn a high school diploma, followed by completion of a certificate or associates degree program with a focus on the skills directly applicable to the work CNC machine operators are expected to perform. Certificate programs through community colleges or vocational schools teach the necessary skills in a short period of time (weeks to months). Associates degrees last for two academic years, but supplementing the training necessary with more general education courses can help in your long-term career development.

Once your education is complete, you will need to solidify your skill set by getting certified. This can be done through many different schools or organizations (such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills or Fabricators and Manufacturers Association), but all require work experience and specific coursework to qualify to take the exams. Once you are certified, the next step to becoming a CNC Machine Operator is to make the necessary connections to obtain a position.

Professional networking opportunities may be available to you through your school or training program, but working directly with a staffing partner, such as Search Staffing, will position you for quick and efficient hiring.  To see what we can do to help you land an exciting job in CNC machine operation, contact Search Staffing today.