How to become a cnc operator

How to Become a CNC Operator?

As CNC conversion kits are allowing for more affordable CNC machining, manual machinists have the same question on their minds: “How do I become a CNC operator?”


If you have been wondering the same, this article is for you.


This piece of content will discuss what CNC machining is, how it is different from manual machining, and how you can become a CNC machinist.


So, without further ado, let’s get into it:


What is CNC Machining?


First off, let’s learn about CNC machines so you can better understand how to become a CNC operator. 


CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which means computer-controlled system. 


A CNC machine is, therefore, a computer-controlled machine.


When you work with a manual machine, most of the work you do is…well, manual.


You have to get your hands dirty.


You have to take the measurements, tune the machine, and set the pressure to get anything out of it.


With a CNC machine, you can say goodbye to most of these extra steps and get to machining in a matter of seconds. 


A CNC machine works with a computer. You only have to put in the design through software, and the machine will do the rest for you.


So, all in all, CNC machining is the process of manufacturing using pre-programmed computer software to dictate the movement of the machinery. 


In contrast to manual machining, CNC machining is superior. 


For instance, manual machining requires live operators to guide the machine via levers, buttons, and wheels. 


Not to mention, manual machining is also slow and less productive, and efficient. 


However, operating CNC machines is not easy.


CNC machines are the backbone of the American production industry. 


These machines shape, cut, and finish raw materials like metal, rubber, and plastic into usable components. 


A lot goes inside a CNC machine, and an operator has to know and understand all of it.


CNC machines are complex, and one must operate them with calibration and precision. 


In fact, sometimes it takes a lot of people to keep these machines running smoothly. 


So, yes, CNC machines can be a faster, more efficient, and convenient option for machining, but they require some expertise to operate. 


To better understand this, we will specify the difference between manual machining and CNC machining.

How is CNC Machining Different from Manual Machining?


Generally speaking, it is very easy to differentiate between a CNC machine and a manual mill/lathe/router.


A CNC machine is computer operated while a manual machine requires manual labor.


However, the differences don’t end here.


CNC machines are more versatile and robust than manual machines, which means they can last longer than an average manual mill/lathe/router. 


They are also safer and more accurate in terms when it comes to cutting, shaping, and finishing.


Moreover, CNC machines are more affordable than manual machines in terms of overall costs. 


Not to mention, regardless of the industry you work in, a CNC machine will make your projects easier. 


CNC machines play a vital role in production and design, from consumer electronics to the automobile industry.


However, we are not undermining manual machines in any way.


If you are a small-scale or hobbyist machinist, chances are you have been using manual machines for quite a while.


And you know how valuable those machines can be. 


The advent of CNC conversion kits has also made it possible for many machinists to transform their old machines into new, automated ones.


But we must clarify that operating a converted CNC machine is not the same as operating a full-fledged 


What does a CNC Machinist Do? 


As a CNC machinist, the first thing you are supposed to do is make sure the equipment is set up correctly.


You will also have to check up on various parts of the machines and ensure everything is in sync.


You must keep an eye on the stock, capacity, and maintenance.


There are several jobs that you can be assigned as a CNC operator.


Depending on the type of job, you will either work on the mechanics or the programming.


You might also have to work on many different machines or stay in charge of a single, complicated machine.


As a CNC operator, you will be working in a factory environment. 


You can work regular hours and choose to do overtime for extra compensation.


Your job description might also change depending on the amount of experience you have in the industry.


Moreover, you will have to work with other industrial and engineering staff, including CNC programmers and mechanics, to keep the machine working efficiently.


How to Become a CNC Operator?


CNC machining is quite complicated and therefore requires technical expertise. 


If you are looking to work as a CNC operator, you must have a graduation degree or a GED.


Once you have completed your graduation, you can pick up on CNC skills and work on them over the years.


Educational programs for CNC machining involve a lot of subjects, including math, engineering, computer, technology, and designing (CAD/CAM).


You can improve your chances by getting a degree in any of these niches.


There are a bunch of universities out there that offer courses in a myriad of CNC-related subjects.


However, it is better to think of it in terms of practical experience instead of degrees and certifications.


While your degree will undoubtedly provide you with a platform, it is only after you work with CNC machines that you will get better.


Many of the programs will have you working internships to gain practical knowledge. 


Even a few companies offer training programs to new machinists.


In the meantime, you should consider checking out blogs, magazines, videos, and other educational mediums on CNC machining.


Stay up to date with the latest technologies in the industry and keep learning about CNC machines and their mechanics. 


The learning doesn’t stop after certification, internship, or even a job. Instead, you will need to keep learning and gaining practical experience as much as you can.




We hope this content helped you get some idea about how to become a CNC operator. CNC machining is challenging as well as exciting. You need to be attentive, a technical expert, a problem-solver, and you have to love creating things to become a good CNC machinist.


If you think you are up to the mark, get started as soon as you can. 


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