Skilled CNC Programmer Job Description

The job description of a CNC programmer requires the use of computer numerically controlled or CNC programs to be used for automating machinists’ tools by using computer generated electronic data. Tasks that were once manual can be automated through the use of CNC programs.

Position Description

A CNC programmer writes code to automate power driven machines that cut and finish metal, wood or plastic such as lathes, grinders and mills.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a CNC Programmer

  • Creates instructions for machinists.
  • Reviews 3D CAD design blueprints.
  • Makes calculations for programming including where materials should be cut.
  • Translates instructions into a computer automated manufacturing (CAM) program.
  • Communicates with engineers and clients who will use the programs.
  • Checks completed programs by running simulations or tests.
  • Prepares geometric layout of designs using proper software.
  • Determines sequence of operations in a program.
  • Chooses cutting tools that will be needed.
  • Analyzes job order and performs necessary calculations.
  • Writes programs and modifies existing ones for increased efficiency.
  • Analyzes and selects speeds and cutting tools for programs.
  • Makes improvements to set up times for a task and contouring of complex shapes.
  • Simplifies tooling time for workers and increases productivity for the client.
  • Evaluates all completed designs to validate their functions and ensure they successfully reduce time and money for the client.
  • Monitors all programs to make sure they follow blueprint instructions and safely and successfully complete the task.
  • Provides training for clients on automated systems.
  • Complies with all safety rules and regulations.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Must have superior computer programming skills.
  • Must have excellent reading comprehension skills.
  • Good math skills, especially algebra, trigonometry and physics.
  • Good active listening skills.
  • Must have good problem solving skills.
  • Must have excellent time management skills.
  • Must have good organizational and planning skills.
  • Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be mechanically inclined.
  • Knowledge of metal shop work.
  • Must be highly detail oriented.
  • Must be able to work effectively with little or no supervision.
  • Must have the ability to write and read complex spreadsheets.
  • Must have the ability to read blueprints.
  • Knowledge of safety measures pertinent to each job assignment.

Education and Experience

  • High School diploma.
  • Associate’s degree in CNC programming, a computer-related field or a mechanical field.
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer programming or computer-related field.
  • Knowledge of electronics and machine tools.
  • Experience with programming.
  • Complete an apprenticeship.
  • Continuing education to learn new techniques as they emerge.
  • Certification through The National Institute Of Metalworking Skills.
  • Certification from accredited technical school.

Work Environment

  • Time is spent in a climate controlled office environment.
  • Time is spent in front of a computer screen keyboarding and manipulation a mouse.
  • Must be able to do shift work.
  • Must be willing to visit manufacturing warehouses to observe equipment in action and wear safety goggles and hard hat.
  • Must be willing to work in areas with high levels of noise such as plants or engineering departments.


  • Salaries range from $35,000 to $55,000 per year.
  • Hourly wages range from $15 to $30 an hour.

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