As manufacturing facilities evolve from dangerous factory floors to automated fabrication centers, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines are the heart of modern manufacturing.
From lathes and mills that cut raw materials into usable shapes to 3D printers that create useful designs from bulk materials, CNC machines use computer code to transform ideas into objects and products.
CNC machinists take design drawings – often in the form of computer-aided design (CAD) files – and program the machines to build the physical product. They then load, operate and oversee the machine as it completes its assigned operation.
CNC Machinist Career Outlook
Although CNC machines have been in wide use since the 1980s, many experts believe the technology is just now reaching maturity. The integration of CNC with robotics and especially the advent of CNC-based 3D printing hold great promise for advances in automation and specialization in CNC machining.
As the use of CNC machines grows, the underlying technology remains quite stable. Whether they are working with routers, drills, 3D printers, glass cutters or highly specialized machines, CNC machinists are expected to:
- Interpret designs of parts to be machined
- Use technical calculations and models to program a CNC machine
- Choose tools or attachments required for a product order
- Set manufacturing metrics such as tolerance levels or cutting speeds
- Maintain and upgrade CNC machines to optimize productivity
- Validate a machine’s output based on the technical standards for a project
- Operate machines under computer numerical control, including lathes, mills, presses, and drills, 3D printers, glass cutters and more
These are highly technical operations that require mental dexterity and specialized knowledge. They are highly valuable to today’s advanced manufacturers.
As a result, well-trained CNC machinists can expect bright career prospects. In fact, consulting firm Deloitte expects a skills gap among manufacturing professionals who have programming skills and understand advanced machinery. Deloitte estimates that as many as 2 million advanced manufacturing jobs may go unfilled between now and 2025.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), machinists earn almost $22 per hour, or $45,750 per year, on average. Including overtime and bonuses, many experienced CNC machinists make between $50,000 and $80,000 per year.
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How to Learn CNC Machine Operation
A strong training program in CNC machining will combine aspects of computer technology with manufacturing procedures, safety and machine operations.
To be well-trained as a CNC machinist, you will need advanced knowledge in:
- CNC Controls and Programming
- Math for CNC Programming
- Materials and Metallurgy
- Machining and Grinding Processes
- Inspection Methods
- Six Sigma, 5S, Lean, and TPM Procedures for Quality
- Workholding Principles
- Production Floor Safety
The best way to get all of this information in one place and tailored to your learning is to follow a well-designed and integrated course of study.
Is CNC Training Worth It?
Research from Delloite indicates that the manufacturing industry is undergoing “exciting and exponential change,” As technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) sweep through the industry, the manufacturing workplace is changing at a breathtaking pace.
Those who are well-trained and diligent will be positioned to benefit greatly from this “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” A solid grounding in CNC principles and processes may provide a solid foundation for an exciting and challenging career.
Online CNC Machinist Training
If you enjoy using technology to create physical objects and products, a CNC machinist career may be perfect for you. Now, you can train to be a CNC machinist online. When you are through, you will have the knowledge and skill to launch a career in the dynamic marketplace of advanced manufacturing.
Enroll in the 100% online CNC Machinist today! Click the link below to learn more about our partner schools and financing options.