CNC operators use CNC machinery to create machine parts and other precision products. CNC operator certificate programs include instruction in methods for setting up, programming, and operating CNC machinery. Some certificate programs require students to complete practicums or fieldwork. Graduates can find employment in various environments, such as with manufacturers for plastics, furniture, and wood products; tool and die shops; and metal fabrication or machine shops.
Certificate in CNC Machine Operation
Students seeking a CNC operator certificate should have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Placement testing may be necessary to ensure students meet the minimum criteria for math and English; this may be waived if the student already has some college credits. Submission materials include official high school transcripts or the equivalent, transcripts from any completed undergraduate coursework, and an admissions application.
Students can specialize in a specific area of machining, such as blueprint reading, CNC mill and lathe programming, and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Most certificate programs may be completed in under a year. Coursework will cover the following topics:
- Blueprint reading
- CNC mill and lathe programming
- Precision measurement
- Technical mathematics
- Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Operators with experience on multiple types of machines and/or those who hold certifications should have the best career opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), job opportunities for computer-controlled machine tool operators, including CNC operators, are expected to grow 17% between 2014 and 2024. The median wage for computer-controlled machine operators was $37,030 as of May 2015.
Many schools offering CNC operator certificate programs offer 2-year degrees in manufacturing technology, industrial systems technology, machine tool technology, or in similar disciplines. Students in such programs receive training in a variety of metalworking jobs.
Aspiring CNC operators can find training in the form of a certificate program, which teaches them proper use and programming of the equipment. Completing these training programs gives students an advantage when finding work, as well as a foundation to enter 2-year degree programs in a related field.