CNC Operator Courses and Classes Overview

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) courses teach students how to set-up, maintain, operate and dismantle machining tools that are controlled by computers. Learn about some of the most common course offerings for CNC operators.

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Essential Information

Courses for aspiring CNC operators are included in machine or manufacturing technology associate's degree programs, which may result in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Interested students can also train to become a CNC operator by participating in trade-specific programs that award CNC Setup/Operator or CNC Programmer certificates.

List of Common CNC Operator Courses

The most commonly offered courses for CNC operators are profiled in the following descriptions.

Introduction to Machine Shop Operations Course

It is recommended that students learn basic machine shop procedures, operations and machining applications early in a certificate or associate's degree program. In this course, students are introduced to basic machine terminology, materials and techniques. Topics also include an introduction to machine shop tools and instruction in safe ways to use them.

Machine Tools Instruction Course

In this class, students learn the use of various machine tools, including lathes, milling machines and surface grinders. Students will also learn proper cutting speeds and material feeding techniques. They'll also develop measuring and blueprint reading skills. Some programs offer separate courses that focus on the use of individual tools, like lathes and mills, or machining processes, such as grinding or drilling. An advanced course includes instruction in the use of vertical and horizontal mills as well as sawing tools. It might also require the use of CNC machines in laboratory exercises.

CNC Programming Software Course

MasterCam and SURFCAM are examples of common CNC programming software. The use of these programs may be taught in a single programming class or in multiple classes, each focusing on a different software program. Students learn to use this software to program CNC mills and lathes, creating programs that demonstrate the software's capabilities. Advanced courses in MasterCam and SURFCAM give students the opportunity to create programs for various 3D models, including surface, composite surface and wire-frame models.

CNC Setup Procedures Course

This course provides students with instruction in the setup and function of various CNC machines. The class often includes lecture and laboratory sessions, which allow students to practice setup procedures. Students are also taught how to choose the appropriate tools for the job, as well as how to calculate and program task-specific information, and perform quality control inspections during production. Advanced courses in CNC setup procedures may focus on programming multiple

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