What does a CNC Programmer do?

A CNC (computer numerically controlled) Programmer works with machinery which cuts raw materials into functional items. They are responsible for interpreting project blueprints, designing programs and setting up machines to produce the component outlined in the program. They must perform test runs and make adjustments until the resulting product meets blueprint specifications. CNC Programmers are also charged with performing machine maintenance and cleaning.

Many CNC programmers hold only high school diplomas, but some employers require a bachelor's degree in engineering for this role. Some CNC Programmers hold certificates or associate's degrees in engineering or machining concentrations. Ultimately this role requires the ability to read and interpret technical blueprints, some mechanical aptitude, and strong attention to detail.

What responsibilities are common for CNC Programmer jobs?
  • Read technical drawings and set up the machines in accordance with these blueprints
  • Use computer software to model cutting paths and program machines accordingly
  • Perform quality assurance tests to ensure products meet design specifications
  • Adjust machine cutting paths or settings to optimize production while maintaining quality
  • Consider tools required to cut particular materials and program machines accordingly
  • Troubleshoot and resolve problems with machines as they arise
  • Perform basic machine maintenance such as cleaning and sharpening
  • Train new employees on how to properly operate CNC machines and programs
What are the typical qualifications for CNC Programmer jobs?
  • Previous experience working in a manufacturing setting is required
  • Must have strong attention to detail
  • Familiarity and skill with interpreting technical drawings and blueprints
  • Skilled at troubleshooting and resolving mechanical or logistical problems that arise
  • Ability to work independently and closely follow directions is essential
  • Should have a positive and professional attitude
  • Available to work weekends and overtime
  • Capable of standing for extended periods of time
  • Ability to lift up to 25 pounds for short periods of time
Work/Life Balance
3.3 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.2 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

How much does a CNC Programmer make?

$58,623 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


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Most Likely Range
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CNC Programmer Career Path

Learn how to become a CNC Programmer, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

CNC Programmer

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

CNC Programmer Insights

Read what CNC Programmer professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Motive Workforce SolutionsMotive Workforce Solutions
Tooling Engineer
Nov 18, 2020

“Robyn Lane was great to work with and helped get my position completed within 3 days.”

Essig ResearchEssig Research
Tooling Engineer
May 4, 2020

“You get to experience a lot of different parts of the design process which is great for recent grads.”

Precision Medical TechnologiesPrecision Medical Technologies
CNC Programmer
Feb 9, 2022

“Expected things to be done in a certain way but didn't provide good training on that.”

S.T. Tool & DesignS.T. Tool & Design
CNC Programmer/Machinist
Feb 18, 2022

“Good place to start your career if you have some experience in machining wether classes or former job.”

Genesis AutomationGenesis Automation
CNC Machinist/Programmer
Nov 16, 2020

“Besides the great people you definitely work with some of the best technology out there.”

CNC Programmer
Nov 11, 2021

“Hiring is impossible if the ones hiring know nothing about the job the applicant is inquiring about.”

Autocam MedicalAutocam Medical
CNC Machinist/Programmer
Dec 4, 2021

“They have outstanding benefits and really encourage you to focus on career goals and growth.”

Brunk IndustriesBrunk Industries
Tool And Die Maker
Feb 7, 2022

“challenging work and good pay”

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CNC Programmer Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a CNC Programmer

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