iExplore Manufacturing Careers

CNC Programmer

Just exactly what is a CNC machine programmer? The CNC stands for computer numerically controlled, and CNC machines are everywhere in todayís manufacturing plants, factories and machine shop. These units function as the brains for so many equipment processes: enabling them to perform efficiently, over and over again.

These high tech units are capable of boring holes into steel or using a robotic arm to weld metal perfectly every time. The job of the CNC programmer is to tell the control unit how to make this possible. Working with the most advanced computer software, data is entered that will instruct the machinery how to move to do a specific task. Programming may be done at the control unit on the shop floor, or from an office where it is then sent by modem to the control.

CNC programmers work with blue prints that are provided by customers, or those developed by using cad or computer aided design software programs. Commands are entered in a specific sequence to tell the machinery how to carry out its task. Then, the programmer runs tests to ensure that it will work properly, making adjustments to tweak the process. When the series of movements is right, production can get underway.

The amount of training needed to become a CNC programmer depends on the complexity of the processes. Some companies offer excellent apprentice programs where workers can be paid while learning on the job. Other positions in this field require some vocational training to learn the language of programming and how it speaks to the machinery, telling it when and where to move to complete a task.

You can take this career to another level with a degree in mechanical engineering and a number of certification programs to increase your earning potential and speaking of earning, the average CNC programmer earns from $28,000 to $65,000 a year, with benefits and overtime available through many employers. Itís projected that jobs in this field will increase by about 6% in the next ten years. Companies will be searching for people, like you, with the right training, skills and desire to make it.

If you enjoy math and science, would like to work with computers and amazing machinery, this could well be the career path for you: making it BIG as a CNC programmer!