Numerical Control Programmer

Code manufacturing instructions into a language computers understand.
picture of Numerical Control Programmer

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$30,000 – $72,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Numerical Control Programmers do?

As a Numerical Control Programmer, you’re like a big boss to computers. Your every wish is their command, especially since as a Numerical Control Programmer you give it to them in a language they understand.

Computers understand only one thing: numbers. To create today’s modern machines, ranging from cars to computer mice, you break down the 3D design of objects into flat, 2D pieces. Then as the Numerical Control Programmer, you instruct the computer on how to cut each piece from metal, wood, or plastic. To do this, you develop a series of computer commands that are translated into a long string of numbers. The computer then interprets these numbers to drill holes and make cuts.

Before the programming process begins, you first decide which machines to use and in what order to cut out the pieces. Computer-aided design (CAD) software helps you draw out the blueprints for each piece, and determine measurements and angles.

Once the cutting order is determined, you code a computer-aided/automated manufacturing (CAM) program containing the numerical instructions for creating a specific part. To the untrained eye, these instructions appear as random numbers. But they actually stand for various codes telling the machine where to bend the metal, what angle to make its cuts, and how fast to pull the metal through the machine.

You create a test piece using these instructions. If the piece comes out as planned, you enter the code into the real machine. Soon, it spits out a shiny, finished part, ready for assembly.

The entire process is like a giant brainteaser. It takes spatial awareness and creative thinking to break a 3D object into the shapes that compose it.

Should I be a Numerical Control Programmer?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.

  • Also known as: Metal Numerical Control Programmer, Programmer Operator, Numerical Control See More

    How to Become a
    Numerical Control Programmer

    Most Numerical Control Programmers have a Bachelor's degree or an Associate's degree. Chart?chd=s:p93xaa&chl=no+college+%2810%25%29|certificate+%2840%25%29|associate%27s+%2836%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2815%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,10,40
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