CNC Operator Job Description

cnc operator

CNC Operator (Computer Numerical Control Operator) is a skilled person who set up and manage CNC machines to perform different jobs including drilling, grinding, and milling. CNC machines use pre-programmed instructions to control the movement of cutting tools, allowing for the precise shaping and finishing of materials like metal, plastic, and wood. Aspiring candidates with an interest in manufacturing, skilled in precision machining, and computer programming are suitable for this profession. The demand for skilled CNC operators has increased with the rise of automation and advanced manufacturing technologies. In this article, we will discuss various aspects of the CNC operator job.

Post Highlights:

  • Educational Qualifications
  • Course Types
  • Certification/License
  • Work Experience
  • Duties/Responsibilities
  • Abilities/Skills
  • Work Environment
  • Physical Requirements
  • Top Industries
  • Job Types
  • Salary Information
  • Benefits/Perks

Educational Qualifications

Typical education level includes-

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • Certificate or Associate Degree Programs in Machine Tool Technology or CNC Programming

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Course Types

Some common types of courses include-

  • Certificate Program – (typically last several months to a year and provides students with basic knowledge and skills in CNC programming, operation, and maintenance)
  • Diploma Program – (similar to certificate programs but may be more in-depth and cover a broader range of topics)
  • Associate Degree Program – (typically takes two years to complete and provides students with a comprehensive education in machine tool technology, CNC programming, and related topics)
  • Online Course – (may offer flexibility in terms of scheduling and may be self-paced or instructor-led)


Some common certifications include-

  • NIMS CNC Operator Certification
  • Siemens CNC Certification
  • Fanuc CNC Certification
  • Haas CNC Certification
  • CAM-Computer-Aided Manufacturing Certification
  • MTConnect Institute Certification
  • CPT Certification

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Work Experience

Several types of experience include-

  • Machine Operation Experience
  • Maintenance Experience
  • Material Handling Experience
  • Programming Experience
  • Quality Control Experience
  • Leadership Experience


Some common tasks include-

  • Adjust machine settings as necessary
  • Communicate with other members of the manufacturing team
  • Conduct routine maintenance on machines
  • Continuously improve processes and procedures
  • Follow all safety procedures and guidelines
  • Keep records of machine maintenance and repair activities
  • Load materials into the machine and ensure that the machine is properly configured
  • Monitor machines during operation
  • Review and interpret blueprints, schematics, and other technical documents
  • Set up and prepare CNC machines for operation
  • Troubleshoot issues with machines
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software


Some common skills include-

  • Able to communicate effectively with other members of the manufacturing team
  • Able to manage their time effectively
  • Able to quickly troubleshoot and find solutions to problems
  • Able to read and interpret technical documents
  • Able to work collaboratively with other members of the manufacturing team
  • Able to work with different types of machines, materials, and job specifications
  • Be comfortable using computer-aided design (cad) and computer-aided manufacturing (cam) software
  • Follow safety procedures and guidelines to prevent accidents and injuries
  • Strong understanding of machining processes, tooling, and programming languages
  • Strong understanding of mechanical processes

Work Environment

Some of the conditions may include-

  • Follow strict safety protocols to avoid injury
  • May need to stand for long periods of time, and lift heavy materials
  • May need to wear protective clothing to stay comfortable
  • May require to work night, weekend, or rotating shifts
  • Noise and vibration can be loud and create significant vibrations
  • Often work on tight schedules
  • May be hot or cold temperature, depending on the season

Physical Requirements

Physical demands may include-

  • Constant free mobility of hands, wrists, and arms
  • Extended periods of squatting, standing, climbing, kneeling, and walking
  • Occasional grasping, bending, stooping, and twisting
  • Require some physical and mechanical dexterity
  • Required to physically lift, pull, push, or apply force up to 50 lbs.
  • Specific vision abilities required

Top Industries

Job areas include-

  • Aerospace and Defense Industries
  • Automotive Industry
  • Consulting
  • Education and Training
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Manufacturing Facilities
  • Medical Device Manufacturing
  • Research and Development
  • Tool and Die Shops

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Job Types

Job positions include-

  • CNC Operator
  • Lathe Operator
  • Milling Operator
  • Plasma Cutting Operator
  • Programming Operator
  • Router Operator
  • Setup Operator
  • Wire EDM Operator

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Salary Information

Several factors such as education, experience, location, and industry type affect the salary of a CNC Operator. The average base salary is $20.33 in the United States. As per the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the approximate hourly, monthly, and yearly salary ranges include.

  • Hourly ($14.38-$28.39)
  • Monthly ($2,495-$4,925)
  • Yearly ($29,940-$59,100)

The highest hourly paying cities for CNC Operators are Milwaukee ($21.42), Cleveland ($21.38), Elkhart ($20.03), and Houston ($19.79).

These salary figures are just approximate ranges and may vary from place to place. Additionally, CNC Operators with certain types of machines or programming languages may fetch higher salaries.


Some of the most common benefits for CNC Operators include-

401(k) Health savings account
401(k) matching Life insurance
Dental Insurance Opportunities for advancement
Disability insurance Paid time off
Employee assistance program Profit sharing
Employee discount Referral program
Flexible schedule Retirement plan
Flexible spending account Tuition reimbursement
Health insurance Vision insurance


CNC Operators play an important role in the manufacturing industry. They operate and program CNC machines to produce precision components and parts. The profession requires a combination of technical/problem-solving skills, and the ability to work with complex computer programs and machinery. Individuals with the required qualifications may get various positions depending on their expertise. Thus, the above-given information on the career of a CNC Operator surely will benefit all aspiring candidates, position holders, and other professionals in the metal industry.

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