As the economy turns around, trade jobs are increasingly in demand. A skilled trade not only makes you more marketable, but also increases the amount of pay you can request for that work. If you’re good with computers, but want a job that lets you get up and move, you might want to consider a career as a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Machine Operator.

CNC Machine Operators program, monitor, and maintain the CNC machines in a factory, which include machines such as drills, lathes, and presses –  typically used for precision cutting, drilling, or even creating intricate designs in metal sheeting and other raw materials.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in CNC Operations, you’ll need to take the following steps:

Step 1: Graduate High School

While this is not always necessary, having a high school diploma will increase your chances of landing a job or apprenticeship as a machine operator. If you’re still in high school, consider adding additional courses in math, computer programming, and shop, as these will provide the basic skills necessary for managing CNC machines.

Step 2: Earn a Certificate or Associates Degree

CNC Machine Operator certificate programs are available through many community colleges and vocational schools. Most of these programs take only a few weeks to a few months to complete, and they will teach you necessary skills such as how to read blueprints and take accurate measurements, as well as proper machine inspection techniques and guidelines.

Earning your associates degree in CNC Machine Operation or Tool Technology will typically take two years, but that extra time will provide a deeper understanding of your trade and manufacturing in general. Having a degree usually means a higher starting salary, too.

Step 3: Get Professionally Certified

While not necessary, getting certified as a CNC Machine Operator provides evidence to employers that you not only studied the trade, but also learned it. Most degree or certificate programs will also offer some sort of professional certification. If yours doesn’t, or if you learned the trade through an apprenticeship or other non-academic means, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Inc. (NIMS) and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association both offer multiple types of certifications and credentialing.

To learn more about this and other high-demand careers, contact an Action Group Staffing Specialist today.


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