Offering very similar teachings, certificate, diploma and associate's diploma programs emphasize programming and regulations as well as CNC fundamentals. Associate's degree programs include general education coursework. These programs also require high school diplomas for admission.
Program specializations include programming, machining and operating.
Diploma and Certificate Programs in CNC Technology
Diploma and certificate programs are most often interchangeable. In these programs, students must first master CNC theory followed by application. CNC technology programs are useful for both students with no knowledge in the field as well as working professionals. Students learn to read blueprints as well as about the actual machining processes. The core of the program is the programming, operation and maintenance of computer numerical control machine tools. A few courses one might expect are:
- Technical drawing
- Technical mathematics
- Engineering graphics
- Creating and reading blueprints
- Surface grinder operation
Associate's Degree Programs in CNC Technology
These programs concentrate on theory and the study of computer-aided design and manufacturing. Students must take a few general education classes in combination with specific computer numerical control training. A few class examples are:
- Understanding microcomputers
- CAM/CAD programming
- Fundamentals of CNC
- CNC programming
- Machine tool mathematics
There are many career options available with professional training in CNC technology. A few common career choices are:
- CNC programmer
- CNC service representative
- CNC machinist
- Shop floor technician
- Shop floor manager or supervisor
The most common career paths for a graduate of an associate's degree program in CNC technology are to become a CNC machinist or CNC programmer. In September 2019, Payscale.com found that the annual salary for CNC machinists was $46,634, including overtime, bonuses and profit sharing. The annual salary for CNC programmers was $60,350. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that between 2018-2028, the number of machinist jobs available will increase by 3% due to a need for professionals who can maintain automated systems (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected excellent prospects for individuals pursuing this career path because there are fewer applicants than job openings in some areas.
Students in CNC technology certificate and degree programs learn about CNC theory and then practice the skills needed on the job, including blueprint reading, technical drawing and machine tool mathematics. Graduates of these programs are qualified to work in the industry as CNC machinists, CNC service representatives or shop floor managers and supervisors.