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Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal & Plastic

Also called: Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator (CNC Machine Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist), Computer Numerical Control Operator (CNC Operator), Machinist

What they do:
Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
On the job, you would:
  • Measure dimensions of finished workpieces to ensure conformance to specifications, using precision measuring instruments, templates, and fixtures.
  • Mount, install, align, and secure tools, attachments, fixtures, and workpieces on machines, using hand tools and precision measuring instruments.
  • Stop machines to remove finished workpieces or to change tooling, setup, or workpiece placement, according to required machining sequences.


Engineering and Technology
  • mechanical
  • design
Math and Science
  • arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
  • physics
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
  • manufacture and distribution of products
Arts and Humanities
  • English language


Basic Skills
  • keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
  • thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
Problem Solving
  • noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
  • watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working
  • testing how well a product or service works


Hand and Finger Use
  • keep your arm or hand steady
  • hold or move items with your hands
Controlled Movement
  • change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving
  • quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
Hearing and Speech
  • tell the difference between sounds
  • pay attention to one sound while there are other distracting sounds
  • pay attention to something without being distracted


People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
  • Attention to Detail
  • Achievement/Effort
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Cooperation
  • Persistence
  • Self Control


You might use software like this on the job:

Computer aided manufacturing CAM software
  • 1CadCam Unigraphics
  • CNC Mastercam
Computer aided design CAD software
  • SolidWorks CAD software
  • UGS Solid Edge
Analytical or scientific software
  • CNC Consulting Machinists' Calculator
  • EditCNC software


Education: (rated 3 of 5)
high school diploma/GED or
certificate after high school
usually needed

Get started on your career:

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Job Outlook

Average Outlook
New job opportunities are likely in the future.
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See more details at O*NET OnLine about computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic.