CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) operators work in machinist positions in production facilities. CNC operators work with various shop machines to fabricate parts for assembly, usually from various metal compounds. They also set up their assigned machines for parts assembly runs, and then test the machines to ensure proper execution of the run. CNC operators also make adjustments as necessary to ensure the piece being fabricated or cut conforms to listed specifications. As each production run concludes, they physically inspect and measure each part created as well. It is vitally important at this point in the manufacturing process that parts are one hundred percent compliant with even the most minute details of an assembly specification. Part of CNC operators' jobs also involves monitoring machinery to verify it is operating properly and at peak efficiency.
Setting the programs and parameters in modern production machinery for an assembly run is an involved process, and CNC operators must be familiar with the proper programming functions required. They must continually work to educate themselves on new machinery and program inputs to ensure the most efficient production of assembly parts.
While the formal education requirements of these types of positions are not steep (normally a high school education is all that is required), most companies look to hire for this position from individuals with some secondary tech school training. Most CNC operator job openings require a great deal of prior assembly line and fabrication experience, and many organizations will choose to hire from within their existing production teams for these types of jobs.
Lastly, CNC operators' work hours depend on the company: Some organizations run around-the-clock assembly hours where operators are scheduled by shift. In most cases, they work an eight-hour shift with a break. CNC operators are almost always on their feet, and will normally have to lift loads of 25-50 pounds while performing their duties.
Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Operator Tasks
- Interpret sketches in order to provide a quality finished product.
- Operate and set up CNC machine.
- Notify and involve the supervisor of any problems or issues that arise during production.
- Operate a jib crane to manipulate parts.
- Perform basic quality checks at the point of production using scales, micrometers, calipers and gages.