How To Become A CNC Machinist Without Going To College

A CNC Machine Operator is a person who runs computerized machines in a shop to manufacture parts. This person is responsible for loading and sorting parts and materials on a CNC machine, blue-print reading, editing programs on a CNC controller, setting up a job on a machine, and adjusting feeds/speeds for maximum efficiency. The abbreviation CNC stands for computer numerical control, and refers specifically to a computer that reads instructions, and then follows those instructions to drive a machine to fabricate components.

Although CNC machining jobs aren't in as high demand as they were 30 years ago, there is still a big need for these specialty machinists. The problem lies in the fact that there aren't many CNC machinist training courses offered, and busy shop owners don't have the time to spend training people like they did 30 years ago. Keep reading to learn how you can become a machinist without going to college:

Attend A Vocational-Technical High School

Most machinists start out by attending a vocational-technical high school to learn the skills of the trade. Although a college degree isn't required to work as a CNC machinist, most employers prefer to have employees with a CNC machinist high school diploma. A high school course that focuses on CNC machining will provide students with a good base-level knowledge to get an entry-level position, but you won't graduate and land a job as a lead machinist. You will learn how to run machines, make parts, inspect finished parts, and other practices that will enable you to do well in the industry. But, most machinist skills are learned on the job.

Become An Intern

If you didn't attend a technical high school, you can become an intern in a CNC machine shop. Interns get paid little to no money for the work they do. It's harder to find internships these days, but it's a good way to receive training to become a CNC machinist. As an intern, you'll receive real-life and on-the-job training, which is an excellent opportunity for high school students and single people who don't have a family to support.

As an intern, you will receive training from a skilled CNC machinist or the shop foreman. At the end of your internship, which is usually 12 months long, you may or may not be offered a position at the shop. What you will have is the knowledge and experience to land a paying job as a CNC machinist.

Start Out As A Shop Helper

If you have a family to take care of, this option probably won't pay enough money for you. But, if you're single and looking to gain experience in a machine shop, then you should consider starting out as a shop helper. As a helper, you'll be required to de-burr parts, cut stock, sweep, and complete other miscellaneous shop chores.

As you gain experience and prove you're a good worker, the shop owner will trust you enough to have you trained on how to operate a CNC machine. As you continue to gain more knowledge, you will probably be promoted to a higher paying position operating CNC machines.

If you are good at math, enjoy solving problems, like hands-on work, are a quick learner, and if you are motivated, then a CNC machine operator may be the perfect job for you. While a college diploma isn't required, it is important that you have some knowledge and machine operating experience before you step behind a CNC machine. If you have any questions about CNC machine operator training, then contact your local technical high school or ask a local machine shop.