CNC Lathe Operator

Load and monitor huge industrial grinding and buffing machines.
picture of CNC Lathe Operator

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$23,000 – $55,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do CNC Lathe Operators do?

CNC Lathe Operators control precision cutting machines in an industrial or manufacturing setting. CNC (computer numerical control) machines cut materials such as plastic, wood, or metal for use in the production of goods. After blueprints for a product have been created and tested, CNC Lathe Operators follow the guides (dimensions and material specifications) and operate the machines produces it.

A lathe is a machine that shapes and cuts the material of choice through rapid rotation while a fixed tool (a knife blade, buffing wheel, or grinding wheel) presses against it. As a CNC Lathe Operator, you ensure that the machine functions properly and produces the desired results using your knowledge and experience.

For example, if you’re producing table legs made of cherry wood, you must make sure each table leg is fashioned according to the specifications on the blueprint. If after turning (the term for lathe work) the leg, you identify an area that’s not symmetrical on all sides, you must adjust the lathe to correct the problem.

Basic mechanical skills are required as you need to make adjustments and repairs on the lathe, while completing general maintenance duties as well. Physical strength and stamina are also necessary because you’ll be standing for long periods during each shift. Additionally, you must be able to bend, twist, and lift up to 50 pounds repeatedly throughout your workday. Working with power tools and producing tangible results keep the job interesting and rewarding though.


Should I be a CNC Lathe Operator?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • High Achiever: You love the challenge of tackling difficult work.

  • Also known as: Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator

    How to become a CNC Lathe Operator

    Most CNC Lathe Operators have a Certificate. Chart?chd=s:79aaaa&chl=no+college+%2849%25%29|certificate+%2851%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,49,51
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