Develop programs to control the machining or processing of metal or plastic parts using automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems. May also set up, operate, or maintain equipment. These programmers have an understanding of materials, how they are used, and work closely with CNC operators to make sure the products are produced well.

A Typical Day

  • Determine the sequence of machine operations, and select the proper cutting tools needed to machine workpieces into the desired shapes.
  • Analyze specifications to calculate dimensions, tool selection, machine speeds, and feed rates.
  • Write programs in the language of a machine's controller.
  • Revise programs or tapes to eliminate errors, and retest programs to check that problems have been solved.
  • Write instruction sheets and cutter lists for a machine's controller to guide setup and encode numerical control tapes.

Recommended Credentials

Certificate of training program completion

Education & Training

Regional employers often hire graduates of these programs.


Northwest Lower Michigan


Manufacturing Technology Degrees at Northwestern Michigan College
Machining I (MFG 113)
Machining II (MFG 114)
CNC Lathe (MFG 217)

Elsewhere in Michigan


Various available, check with company you are interested in to align with their training preferences.

Explore This Career

Try it before you buy it!

The Local Advantage Learning Pathway

Pathway 1

Northwest Education Services (formerly TBAISD) Career Tech Center – Precision Machining Technology
Ask your high school counselor about dual enrollment at NMC.

Pathway 2

Northwestern Michigan College Technical Apprenticeship, includes:

  • Manufacturing Technology courses
  • Drafting & Design courses 

Local in-company training

Pathway 3

Northwestern Michigan College 
Associates of Applied Sciences in Manufacturing


Sample Employers in Our Region

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Contact one of these companies and ask for an informational interview, to see if you can job shadow, or to find out if they hire interns.


Sample Job Titles...

  • Computer Numerical Control Programmer 
  • CAD CAM Programmer
  • Computer Numerical Control Machining Center Operator 

Hear It From The Pros

10-Year Job Growth Projections

10-County Region

Employed Regionally

In 2021 (10-County Region)

Wage Range & Median 10-County Region


Annual Hires Regionally

In 2021

Other Regional Career Resources

Learn more about Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers at O*NET Online.

Sample Career Pathways

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Diagram of Paths To and From Other Careers for CNC Programmer

Related Careers

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Real World Career Pathways

It doesn't have to be a straight shot! Hear from people who have taken unique pathways.