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Computer Control Programmer and Operator (CNC)

  • Set up machines and monitor them for unusual sound or vibration
  • Lift material onto machines, manually or with a hoist
  • Operate metal or plastic molding, casting, or coremaking machines
  • Adjust the machines’ speed and other settings
  • Adjust cutting machine settings to account for irregularities
  • Stop machines and remove finished products
  • Test and measure finished products
  • Remove and replace dull cutting tools
  • Document production numbers in a computer database

Minimum Education Required for this Career

Basic Certificate
Advanced Certificate
Associate's Degree
4+ year Degree
Basic Certificate

City Colleges Program Options

Manufacturing Tech - Maintenance Mechanic

Computerized Numerical Control (CNC)

Nature of the Work

​Computer control programmers and operators use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to produce a wide variety of products, from automobile engines to computer keyboards. CNC machines operate by reading the code included in a computer-controlled module, which drives the machine tool and performs the functions of forming and shaping a part formerly done by machine operators. CNC machines include tools such as lathes, laser cutting machines, roll forms, press brakes, and printing presses. CNC machines use the same techniques as many other mechanical manufacturing machines but are controlled by a central computer instead of a human operator or electric switchboard. Many old-fashioned machines can be retrofitted with a computer control, which can greatly improve the productivity of a machine. Computer control programmers and operators normally produce large quantities of one part, although they may produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. These machines are most commonly used in metalworking industries where precision is imperative, because computers can be more accurate than humans in this work.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

​Computer control programmers and operators train in various ways—in apprenticeship programs, informally on the job, and in secondary, vocational, or postsecondary schools. In general, the more skills needed for the job, the more education and training are needed to qualify. Many entrants have previously worked as machinists or machine setters, operators, and tenders.

Future Trends

​Despite the projected increase in employment, applicants are expected to face competition for jobs, as there are more trained workers than available jobs.

Career Pathways

Success at City Colleges