How to Prepare for a Career as a CNC Production Specialist

How Can You Become a CNC Production Specialist?

Manufacturing has changed in recent years. Some of those changes have led to increased precision in the way things are made, but some of those changes have also led to a decline in job opportunities for those in the industry. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job opportunities for metal and plastic machine workers will decline by 8% by 2028[1], there is one exception.

The number of opportunities for computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tool programmers is expected to increase by 20% by 2028[1]. Opportunities for machinists are expected to grow by 3% during the same time period[2]. Learn more about your career options using CNC and what you can do to get started as a CNC production specialist.

What Is CNC?

Computer numerically controlled machines rely on a software program to control the movement of the tools. When a person works with CNC, they program a computer, rather than use the tools to manually make cuts and control the speed of operation.

Many machines that were traditionally manually operated now use CNC software programs. For example, CNC mills, lathes, and electric discharge machines exist. One notable benefit of using CNC rather than manual machines is that they tend to be more precise. It is also often easier to fix an issue with the code of a CNC machine than it is to make adjustments to a manual machine.

CNC machines can also work faster than manual machines, increasing productivity.

What Do CNC Production Specialists Do?

CNC production specialists, or production technicians, develop the programs that are used to create parts through machines. They also know how to operate the machines to produce parts and pieces as needed.

Since the job of a CNC production technician involves both hands-on tasks and technological tasks, it’s important that a person considering a career in CNC has a mix of manual dexterity and technological know-how. For example, someone who likes to build computers and program them might find that a job as a CNC production technician is a great fit for their interests and skill set.

Some skills that also come in handy for CNC production specialists include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Flexibility and adaptability

What Do You Need to Become a CNC Production Specialist?

Although many careers in manufacturing can be started without additional training beyond a high school diploma, it becomes easier to find a job as a CNC production specialist or technician if you complete additional coursework and training beyond high school.

Orange Technical College offers a CNC Production Specialist career certificate program at our Mid Florida campus. The 600-hour program typically takes about six months to complete. During it, you’ll learn the basics of manufacturing, such as how to read blueprints and how to stay safe in the shop. You’ll also learn how to choose the appropriate materials and tools to use and how to work with CNC equipment, including how to use CAD/CAM software.

After you successfully complete the career certificate program, you have the option of earning CNC Production Specialist (CCI) certification through Machining Training Solutions. To earn the certification, you need to pass an exam with a score of 70% or higher[4]. The exam is four hours long and contains 50 questions.

It is a cloze deletion test, which means that you’ll be given a passage with words deleted from it. You’ll be asked to correctly fill in the missing words.

What Can You Earn as a CNC Production Specialist?

The median annual salary for people working as CNC production technicians or specialists is higher than the median annual salary for all jobs combined. As of 2018, the median annual salary of CNC production technicians was $53,190[5].

If you’re interested in a career in CNC programming and machining and are looking for a way to make yourself a competitive candidate for a CNC production technician position, completing a career certificate and earning CCI certification can be your first steps. To learn more about Orange Technical College’s CNC production specialist program and what you can do to get started, request more information today.

Sources:

  1. “Metal and Plastic Machine Workers”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/metal-and-plastic-machine-workers.htm#tab-6
  2. “Machinists and Tool and Die Makers”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/machinists-and-tool-and-die-makers.htm#tab-6
  3. “What Is CNC Machining?”, Astro MachineWorks, https://astromachineworks.com/what-is-cnc-machining/
  4. “CNC Production Specialist (CCI) Certification”, Machining Training Solutions, http://machiningsolutions.com/IHK.html
  5. “Occupational Employment and Wages: Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers”, Metal and Plastic, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes514012.htm

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