CNC Operator

Make sure automated machinery is programmed and running properly.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$23,000 – $55,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do CNC Operators do?

To understand this job, you first have to know what CNC stands for. CNC means “computer numerical control,” and it’s a machine used in manufacturing. It controls various production tasks ranging from the simple, like drilling holes, to the more complex, like soldering metal together.

Though good at its job, a CNC machine is not perfect, so the CNC Operator helps it out. CNC Operators oversee the work of the machines, keeping them on track and fixing them when they break.

A lot of the work you do as a CNC Operator starts before the machine gets going. For example, one of the big skills you need for this job is the ability to understand blueprints. You look at the plans for the piece of equipment or part you’re working on, and then enter the specifications into the computer.

While doing this, it’s important that you understand the limitations of your machine and how your role in the production process fits into the overall picture. Understanding your machine also means knowing what parts to order and when to perform routine maintenance.

Once you’ve programmed your machine and pressed “Start,” you can sort of sit back and watch it go. This is the part of the job that can get a little boring because you don’t have much to do unless something breaks. When something does break, you get to work replacing parts or oiling machinery.


Should I be a CNC 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.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • High Achiever: You love the challenge of tackling difficult work.

  • Also known as: CNC Inspector, CNC Machine Operator, CNC Surface Grind Operator, CNC Technician

    How to become a CNC Operator

    Most CNC 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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