CNC Programmer Training & Courses

If you're interested in pursuing a career with a skilled trade, consider a career as a CNC programmer. Learn what CNC programmers do, the training they need, and the courses they'll take while furthering their education. Schools offering Machining & Manufacturing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Become A CNC Programmer?

CNC programmers are responsible for programming cuts and shaping information into Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) machines during the manufacturing process, precisely milling parts out of wood, metal, and other materials for applications as varied as artificial hips to airplanes to building construction. CNC programmers, sometimes also referred to as machinists, make use of Computer Assisted Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) programs to plan and design pieces digitally before they are created. Manufacturing plants that use CNC machines and techniques are much more advanced than they would have been in the past, and as such special education is required to perform necessary duties. CNC programmer training is often done at the diploma level, although associate's degrees that include CNC training do exist. Additional certificate programs may also be available for those with experience to demonstrate expertise with a particular machine, such as a lathe.

CNC Programmers Program machines involved in the manufacture of various materials
Diploma Programs Cover manufacturing practices, mill and lathe use, and CAD/CAM software
Associate's Degrees Cover business topics such as accounting in addition to diploma's content
Certificates & Certifications Focus on one specific tool, such as mill or lathe, or prove aptitude with CAD/CAM software

Which Courses and Training Are Involved in a CNC Programmer Diploma Program?

Diploma programs for CNC machining are generally quite straightforward, able to be completed in a bit over a year, and focus heavily on the skills needed in real-world work environments. If any basic studies work is required at all, it will be simple algebra and geometry and fundamental English, to ensure students can communicate effectively and perform any needed calculations. Programs are likely to start with courses on basic manufacturing practices, reading blueprints, and safety with machines before actually working with any. From there, work with machines will cover topics like manual use of mills and lathes, CAD/CAM program use, and turning and drilling. Advanced topics and simulated workplace work will take place at the end to provide a transition out of the educational environment and into the workforce.

What Differences Are There with Associate's Degree Programs that Include CNC Programmer Skills?

Associate's degree programs generally accompany specific training towards a job with general education and take two years to complete. For CNC programmer training, the matching associate's degree might have a title like applied technical management and would cover everything a diploma program would. In addition to basic studies courses such as algebra, literature, and social sciences, a technical management program would have a business focus to complement the manufacturing focus. Topics covered might include accounting, management, and laws and regulations governing business. Ideally, this would prepare CNC programmer with the knowledge needed to move up within his organization to managerial roles over time.

Which Kind of Advanced Certificates Are Available for CNC Programmers?

Certificate programs that require previous work experience within the field of CNC machining are fairly common, are designed to enhance skills that workers may already have begun to develop, and can be completed in under a year. CNC specialists, lathe operators, mill operators, and tool and die specialists all have certificates available, focusing on work with a particular machine or technique that is touched on in the diploma programs. Other programs, focusing on CAM software, also exist, and may be designed to allow students to obtain certifications from the software manufacturer attesting to their aptitude with the program after completion. Such certifications may be seen as desirable by employers, although a full course of study is not necessarily required to obtain them.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Shell Lake
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Westmoreland County Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Youngwood
  • Western Piedmont Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Morganton
  • West Virginia University at Parkersburg

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Parkersburg
  • West Shore Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Scottville
  • Pearl River Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Poplarville
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Paducah