We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a CNC Operator?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A CNC (computer numerical control) operator is someone who operates a CNC machine. The CNC machine can perform functions, such as precision drilling and tapping, cutting and shaping steel and aluminum, or milling flat stock into intricate designs. Often called a CNC lathe, the operator programs the machine to perform the task needed and monitors the work, making all necessary adjustments as needed.

In most cases, an operator learns the trade through an apprenticeship program and on-the-job training of a vocational school. He or she must typically understand blueprints and know how to read and interpret them. Computer knowledge is also a requirement, since the CNC machine is computer controlled. By entering a set of numbers in a particular sequence, the CNC operator can program the machine to do any number of functions.

The CNC machine is capable of running large production orders with little to no variance in production pieces. The operator monitors the work being completed and takes many critical measurements. If the machine is producing work that is not satisfactory, small adjustments can be made by the operator using a key pad on the control panel of the machine.

Often, a single operator is assigned to several CNC machines. This is possible due in part to the CNC's ability to provide such close tolerances over a large amount of work. The operator goes from machine to machine, checking the finished product of each. The operator takes critical measurements of each machine's work and implements any needed adjustments.

Many CNC operator tasks call for programing a machine to run a new product. The operator installs the new operation into the machine by programing the computer to complete new and different functions. He or she is often asked to change the tooling of the machine, although some change tooling automatically. The operator will run a test piece of work and take measurements and, once satisfied with the finished product, he or she will set the machine to run a certain number of pieces.

The operator is an important person within the manufacturing industry. The knowledge to program and operate a CNC machine is a valued skill, and by controlling the work being manufactured to exacting tolerances, the CNC operator is responsible for the company's reputation, in many instances. By keeping the machine properly adjusted, the operator cuts down on wasted materials and saves the company money. Even though the machine is computer guided, the operator's eyes and measuring skills are the final measure of the finished product's quality.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon310296 — On Dec 21, 2012

I'm starting school at dmacc for cnc-tool and die. I'm trying to learn beforehand. I have loaded programs into hydraulic presses and other computer aided machines at the auto plant. I'm hoping to get a job now and get hands on training.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.