Although people who run machining equipment don’t need a college degree, some training is helpful and employers prefer it. Here are some skills you will need if you want to become a CNC operator.
CNC machines are extremely complex, computer-driven pieces of equipment. The work requires precision, and not everyone has what it takes to become a CNC machinist. Required skills for this career path include:
- Math: CNC stands for Computer Numerically Control, so math is a big part of the custom machining job. This is a good fit for people who love numbers and like learning to program machines.
- Communication: CNC operators often need to write technical notes and they usually are part of a team, so the ability to communicate technical information successfully is a must.
- Creative Problem-Solving: If you love digging into a program to find out why it didn’t work, this career is a good fit for you. Machinists spend a lot of time fine-tuning equipment, and the ability to think on your feet and not be easily discouraged is a plus.
- Accuracy and Attention to Detail: These machines work to the level of thousandths of an inch, and accuracy is extremely important. You need to be able to pay attention to minute details in this field.
- Managing Your Time: There are many steps to custom machining and developing a sense of how long it takes you to accomplish each one is important for developing and maintaining a production schedule.
- Soft Skills: Other skills include an attitude of safety, a good work ethic and assertiveness. When you work around large machines, it is important to follow safety rules and make sure the equipment is running properly. You need to show up and do your job because you are part of a team. Finally, it helps to be able to express your opinion. Sometimes you will find a mistake, and it will mean stopping production and making people do things over again. That sometimes makes people angry, but it is part of the job of a CNC machinist.
If this sounds like you, custom machining may be the right career for you.