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CNC Programming Certification: Program Outline

Learn about degrees in computer numerical control. Get information on certificate and associate degree programs, courses, program requirements and career prospects to make an informed decision about your education.

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Computer Numerical Control Certificate

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) programmers write computer programs which carefully control the motion of machines and tools used to cut and shape precision products, such as machine and automobile parts. CNC programming certificate programs provide the skills needed to review computer-aided design (CAD) blueprints for a new item, calculate what cuts or borings must be made to produce the item from a solid block of material, select the appropriate tools for the job, and plan out the sequence of operations needed to complete the job. Some certificate programs offer specialized training for a specific application, such as machining or press braking. To enter a certificate program, students must have a high school diploma or a GED.

Course Topics

CNC programming certificates programs include courses that explain what CNC is and how it works. Most individuals seeking a certificate in CNC programming already have basic knowledge of computers, electronics, and machine tools, and many have previously worked in machine shops. Required program courses may include:

  • Fundamentals of CNC technology
  • CNC programming and machine operation
  • CNC coordinates and offsets
  • CNC controlled lathes
  • CNC controlled milling machines
  • Intro to CAD/CAM
  • Industrial print reading
  • Project management

Popular Career Options

Individuals with a certificate in computer numerical control programming can sometimes find entry-level jobs in metal-working shops. Common careers for graduates of certificate programs include:

  • Machinist
  • Computer control operators
  • Machine setters

Associate of Applied Science in Computer Numerical Control Technology

These degree programs often include computer-aided design as a component of CNC technology. Students learn about computer engineering in relation to manufacturing, tool design and quality control. Students may find apprenticeships during their studies, although some programs require that students have a specific amount of experience in machining prior to enrollment into associate degree programs. All must have a high school diploma or GED to enter an associate degree program.

Course Topics

In associate degree programs, CNC courses give students an opportunity to strengthen their skills for entry-level positions. Students may take courses in applied mathematics, manufacturing and measurement. Common courses include:

  • Print reading
  • CNC basics
  • CNC programming
  • Metallurgy
  • Jig and tool design

Popular Career Options

Careers involving computer numerical control skills can include management positions for individuals with experience and training. Popular careers include:

  • Industrial production manager
  • CNC machine programmers
  • Tool and die maker

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job opportunities for CNC machine tool programmers (metal and plastic) to decline by 6% over the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the median earnings for these programmers were $45,920 in May 2012.

Continuing Education

Individuals can earn professional certification through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS); the organization offers a variety of certifications, including basic and advanced machining and levels 2 and 3 press braking (www.nims-skills.org). All five of these certifications include CNC skills. To earn each credential, individuals must register and gain approval of a sponsor or NIMS employee, complete an exam and a performance affidavit.

Some apprenticeship programs are available to students who have a certain level of experience (typically four years). Other apprenticeships are available through associate degree programs at community colleges and trade schools. For individuals seeking further education, a bachelor's degree in manufacturing engineering technology is one possibility. These programs are accredited through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and some include classes offered on an evening schedule.

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CNC Programming Class and Training Program Information

Popular Schools

  • School locations:
    • Alabama (3 campuses)
    • Arkansas (1 campus)
    • Arizona (3)
    • California (13)
    • Colorado (2)
    • Florida (9)
    • Iowa (1)
    • Idaho (1)
    • Indiana (4)
    • Kansas (2)
    • Kentucky (2)
    • Louisiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (6)
    • Missouri (4)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • Nevada (2)
    • Ohio (9)
    • Oklahoma (2)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Tennessee (5)
    • Texas (8)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (5)
    • Washington (3)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor in Industrial Automation Engineering Technology
    • Associate
        • Associate in Industrial Engineering Technology

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • North Carolina (3 campuses)
    • South Carolina (1)
    • Virginia (5)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
        • Machine Shop Technologies
        • Welding Technology
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Wisconsin (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Milwaukee Area Technical College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
        • Machine Shop Technologies
        • Machinist
        • Tool and Die Technologies
        • Welding Technology
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New Castle School of Trades include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
        • Machine Shop Technologies
        • Machinist
        • Welding Technology
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Forestry and Wildlands Management
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Natural Resources Management
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Chemistry Sciences
      • Natural Resources Conservation
      • Physical and Environmental Science
      • Physics
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics