Skilled Trades Careers

How to Become a CNC Programmer in America in 2023

DateOctober 31, 2023
how to become a cnc programmer in america

Are you interested in a rewarding career that combines technology, creativity, and precision? Look no further than becoming a CNC programmer. With the demand for skilled workers in the machine tool field on the rise, now is the perfect time to start your journey in this exciting profession.

To become a CNC programmer you'll need a combination of education and on-the-job experience. This may include an understanding of machine operations, geometric dimensioning, fixture design, and CAM software.

There are a wide variety of training options available, so grab a free SkillHero account to find the best opportunities in your area.

Once you're signed up for SkillHero you'll have access to tons of resources and an easy way to connect with experienced machinists. Then come back and finish reading this article to kickstart your career!

What is a CNC programmer and what do they do?

A CNC programmer is a skilled professional who specializes in computer numerical control (CNC) machine programming. They play a crucial role in the manufacturing industry, as they are responsible for writing the code for computer-controlled machines that produce intricate and precise parts.

On a typical day a CNC programmer uses their knowledge of machining and understanding of machine tool programming to set up and operate CNC systems. They read and interpret blueprints, design fixtures for production machining, and select appropriate cutting tools and materials.

They use CAM software (computer-aided manufacturing) to generate the necessary G-code instructions that control the movements and functions of the machine. Once the program is loaded, the CNC programmer monitors the machines, making any necessary adjustments and ensuring that the finished product meets the required specifications.

How much is the average CNC programmer salary?

CNC programmers have higher pay rates than most of the less risky and less physically demanding trades because of the high level of technical knowledge required. The average CNC programmer salary varies depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry.

According to the latest data, CNC programmers can expect a wage of around $42,990 per year as apprentices, $60,800 per year as journeymen, and $90,090 per year as masters.

CNC-Programmer average salary SkillHero

Some industries tend to pay more than others because their programmers work with more advanced machines that may require special knowledge of engineering or raw materials.

To explore job opportunities and gain access to training resources in the CNC programming field, sign up for a free SkillHero account.

How long does it take to become a CNC programmer?

The average time to become a CNC programmer can vary depending on several factors. Education plays a crucial role in this career path. Completing a diploma or an associate degree program in CNC machining or a related field can give you an advantage, but these programs typically take 1-2 years to complete.

That said, gaining hands-on experience is equally important. Working in machine shops or taking part in apprenticeship programs can enhance your skills more than a college education. In most cases a balance of hands-on training, classroom education, and mentoring is best.

For most people it takes around 3-6 years to become a fully qualified CNC programmer, but as with most trades you can find apprenticeship opportunities without being fully qualified.

Is being a CNC programmer difficult?

This career can be challenging due to the complexity of the role and the technical skills required. CNC programming involves creating instructions for computerized machines to accurately produce components. The difficulty of CNC programming can vary depending on the type of parts and manufacturing processes involved.

To excel in this field you need a strong understanding of machine tool technology, geometric dimensioning, and fixturing for production machining. A knowledge of machining processes, machine operations, and machine limitations is also crucial.

While it may seem difficult at first, with the right education, training, and hands-on experience, you can become a proficient CNC programmer. SkillHero can connect you with opportunities, training, and resources to enhance your skills and accelerate your career.

Sign up for a free SkillHero account and unlock your potential in this rewarding field.

How to become a CNC programmer in the United States

Here are the essential steps you must take to embark on your journey as a successful CNC programmer:

  1. Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent credential.
  2. Create a skilled trade resume.
  3. Find an apprenticeship.
  4. Continue acquiring skills and certifications.

Let's take a quick look at each of those steps in detail:

Get a high school diploma or equivalent credential

It's important to obtain a high school diploma or an equivalent credential such as a GED. This is the minimum educational requirement for entering most skilled trades because it covers the basics of mathematics, language comprehension, and work ethic.

Create a skilled trade resume

Your skilled trade resume should emphasize your knowledge and expertise in CNC machining technology, as well as any other training or experience related to complicated machines and automatic machine tools.

A resume needs to include your personal data such as contact information, a brief personal statement, and lists of your most relevant work experience, education, and certifications. If you don't have industry-specific experience, even a knowledge of normal machine equipment may help you find an entry-level job.

SkillHero's free app includes an easy-to-use resume builder which helps you fill out the right information and generates a well-formatted document which can be exported as a PDF or shared directly with employers on the platform.

Find an apprenticeship

A CNC apprenticeship provides a combination of hands-on training and classroom instruction, giving you a comprehensive understanding of the trade. You can find apprenticeship opportunities on the SkillHero app.

You may also consider partnering with organizations like AJAC (Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee) that offer specialized classes.

Sign up for a free SkillHero account today to jumpstart your career in the machine tool field.

Continue acquiring skills and certifications

To continue advancing your career as a CNC programmer, it's important to continuously acquire new skills and certifications. These additional qualifications will not only boost your knowledge but also make you stand out in the industry.

Don't forget to sign up for a free SkillHero account to access training resources and opportunities that can further propel your career as a CNC programmer.

Who should become a CNC programmer?

This job path can be a great fit for individuals who are detail-oriented, have strong problem-solving skills, and enjoy working with technology and machinery.

To excel in this field you'll need a strong understanding of mathematical concepts and the ability to read and interpret technical drawings and blueprints.

Attention to detail is crucial in CNC programming, as even a small error can lead to significant issues in the finished product. Being able to think analytically and troubleshoot problems is important when it comes to optimizing machine operations and addressing any issues that arise during the programming and machining process.

If you have an interest in working with different types of machines and a passion for technology, a career as a CNC programmer could be a perfect fit for you. Sign up for a free SkillHero account to explore training programs and opportunities in this field.