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Schools for Aspiring CNC Machinists: How to Choose

A computer numeric control (CNC) machinist is an individual trained to maintain, operate and program machines used to shape, cut and bend metal parts. Students may study this field through certificate and diploma programs for CNC machinists or associate degree programs with broader machinist curriculum.

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Programs for aspiring CNC machinists can be found at community and technical colleges. Coursework commonly includes the operation and programming of lathes and milling equipment, as well as other machine tools.

10 Schools with CNC Machinist Programs

CNC machinist programs are offered by these institutions.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Clackamas Community College Oregon City, OR 2-year, Public Certificate $4,268 In-state Undergraduate; $11,918 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo, IA 2-year, Public Certificate, Diploma, Associate's $4,466* In-state Undergraduate; $5,166 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,730 In-state Undergraduate; $6,451 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH 2-year, Public Certificate $131.77** In-state Undergraduate per credit hour; $248.92** Out-of-state Undergraduate per credit hour
Asnuntuck Community College Enfield, CT 2-year, Public Certificate $131.77** In-state Undergraduate per credit hour; $248.92** Out-of-state Undergraduate per credit hour
Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, NV 2-year, Public Certificate Not Available
Erie Community College Buffalo, NY 2-year, Public Certificate $4,733** Undergraduate
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids, IA 2-year, Public Diploma, Associate's $4,194 In-state Undergraduate; $5,034 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Spartanburg Community College Spartanburg, SC 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $5,210 In-state Undergraduate; $8,472 Out-of-state Undergraduate
Spokane Community College Spokane, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,388 In-state Undergraduate; $8,726 Out-of-state Undergraduate

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); **School Websites (2016-2017)

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School Selection Criteria

There are a number of points to consider when choosing a program in this field.

  • Look for programs that have hands-on training opportunities and internships to gain practical experience.
  • Aspiring CNC machinists are encouraged to enroll in programs that offer up-to-date, on-campus laboratory facilities that include proper equipment for operation training, such as lathe and milling machines.
  • Program outcomes range from a short- or long-term certificate to an associate's degree, and it is important to consider what program is suitable for your personal goals.
  • Check the employment records of graduates from each schools' programs to ensure that they have a high rate of graduates successfully employed in their field.

Certificate for CNC Machinists

CNC machinist certificate programs may be completed in two or three semesters.

Diploma for CNC Machinists

Diploma programs for CNC machinists can take up to two years to complete, typically without general education courses.

Associate Degree for Machinists

Associate degree programs for machinists commonly include courses in CNC programming and operation, blueprint reading, machine tool operation and computer-aided design. These programs can typically be completed in two years and include general education courses.

Choosing a program begins with determining what type of credentials you need to pursue your own career goals. Factors such as internship opportunities, location and tuition costs may also influence program choice.

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