CNC Operator

What do CNC Operators do?

Computer-controlled machine tool operators operate computer-controlled machines or robots. These robots and machines are typically capable of cutting, bending, forming, and polishing raw metal into finished parts and tools. Workers in this profession usually hold positions as computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine operators and programmers.  They handle computer-programmed machinery that perform a wide variety of functions, such as drilling, cutting, or shaping materials.  They also read and interpret blueprints, input data into a computer system, and inspect the accuracy of a machine's operation.

Average Wage

Experienced Wage

As a CNC Operator, you will

Check to ensure that workpieces are properly lubricated and cooled during machine operation
Measure dimensions of finished workpieces to ensure conformance to specifications
Mount, install, align and secure tools, attachments, fixtures and workpieces on machines
Stop machines to remove finished workpieces or to change tooling, setup, or workpiece placement
Transfer commands from servers to computer numerical control (CNC) modules

Training & Educational Opportunities

The need for skilled workers with automation training certifications is growing. According to The National Association of Manufacturers, there are over 400,000 unfilled manufacturing positions in the US, but many applicants lack the skills and training to do the job. In the next ten years, this gap is expected to widen as the number of highly skilled manufacturing jobs continues to outpace the pool of trained candidates.

Employers are seeking individuals who have completed a training program from a reputable school meeting industry skill standards, set by organizations such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), FANUC, or the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). Many employers will prefer candidates who have attained certifications from these industry-recognized entities.

Training Providers

  • BIR Training Center
  • College of DuPage
  • Elgin Community College
  • Harper College
  • Illinois Manufacturing Foundation
  • Jane Addams Resource Corp
  • Symbol Training Institute
  • Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA)
  • Waubonsee Community College

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A WIOA grant can pay for training.


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Types of Employers

  • Electrical/electronics manufacturers
  • Forging and stamping businesses
  • Machine shops
  • Metalworking machinery manufacturers
  • Motor vehicle parts manufacturers

Advancement Opportunities

  • CNC Machine Builder
  • CNC Programmer
  • CNC Setup Operator
  • Laser Machine Operator
  • Prototype Maker