Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programmers utilize computers to design metal parts for cars, planes and other machines. CNC programmer associate degree programs are most commonly available at two-year technical schools and community colleges. A high school diploma or equivalent is required and high school level coursework in relevant areas, such as computer-aided drafting, are highly desirable. Some programs may require ACT or SAT scores. Internships or apprenticeships may be required as well.
Associates Degree for Computer Numerical Control Programmers
In a CNC program, students learn hands-on machining skills that are relevant to a career as a CNC programmer. They could eventually develop expertise with drills, lathes, welding equipment and other tools. Some programs include field training at local manufacturing plants where students might participate as interns or apprentices. Coursework includes study in both the classroom and machine shop, covering many types of manufacturing processes. Common courses include the following:
- Fundamentals of CNC programming
- Introduction to computer-aided drafting and machine tools
- Blueprint reading
- Jig design
- Basic welding techniques
- Tool/die design techniques
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
CNC programmers held approximately 25,100 jobs as of 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The BLS estimates that CNC programmers may have an employment growth of 19% for the years 2014 through 2024. CNC programmers earned a median annual wage of $48,990 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Many CNC programmers learn through apprenticeships or on-the-job training. While associate degree programs provide formal training and the opportunity for advancement, they are rarely required for entry-level employment. Individuals interested in the field but not able to commit to an associate degree program may pursue a certificate in CNC programming. Formal certification is not required for CNC programmers.
While not required for entry-level employment, many CNC programmers learn their trade through associate's degree programs. These programs use both in-class and hands-on training to prepare students for careers in CNC.