Summary Report for:
51-4011.00 - Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic
Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
Sample of reported job titles: Brake Press Operator; Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator (CNC Lathe Operator); Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator (CNC Machine Operator); Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist); Computer Numerical Control Mill Operator (CNC Mill Operator); Computer Numerical Control Operator (CNC Operator); Computer Numerical Control Set-Up and Operator (CNC Set-Up and Operator); Machine Operator; Machine Set-Up, Operator; Machinist
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Transfer commands from servers to computer numerical control (CNC) modules, using computer network links.
- Check to ensure that workpieces are properly lubricated and cooled during machine operation.
- Set up and operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic workpieces.
- Insert control instructions into machine control units to start operation.
- Review program specifications or blueprints to determine and set machine operations and sequencing, finished workpiece dimensions, or numerical control sequences.
- Listen to machines during operation to detect sounds such as those made by dull cutting tools or excessive vibration and adjust machines to compensate for problems.
- Remove and replace dull cutting tools.
- Monitor machine operation and control panel displays and compare readings to specifications to detect malfunctions.
- Enter commands or load control media, such as tapes, cards, or disks, into machine controllers to retrieve programmed instructions.
- Modify cutting programs to account for problems encountered during operation and save modified programs.
- Calculate machine speed and feed ratios and the size and position of cuts.
- Adjust machine feed and speed, change cutting tools, or adjust machine controls when automatic programming is faulty or if machines malfunction.
- Lift workpieces to machines manually or with hoists or cranes.
- Stack or load finished items or place items on conveyor systems.
- Control coolant systems.
- Maintain machines and remove and replace broken or worn machine tools, using hand tools.
- Confer with supervisors or programmers to resolve machine malfunctions or production errors or to obtain approval to continue production.
- Implement changes to machine programs and enter new specifications, using computers.
- Set up future jobs while machines are operating.
- Clean machines, tooling, or parts, using solvents or solutions and rags.
- Input initial part dimensions into machine control panels.
- Write simple programs for computer-controlled machine tools.
- Lay out and mark areas of parts to be shot-peened and fill hoppers with shot.
- Examine electronic components for defects or completeness of laser-beam trimming, using microscopes.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Automatic lathe or chucking machine — Twin spindle lathes
- Bench vises — Vises
- Boring machines — Borers; Boring bars
- Calipers — 0-1 drop indicators; Dial calipers; Vernier calipers
- Chucks — Soft jaws
- Comparators — Optical comparators
- Coordinate measuring machines CMM
- Deburring tool — Deburring tools
- Desktop computers
- Dial indicator or dial gauge — Dial indicators
- Drill press or radial drill — Drill presses
- Form tools or toolbits — Twist drills
- Game pads or joy sticks — Jog mode operation joy sticks
- Go or no go gauge — Go/no go test equipment
- Hand clamps
- Hand reamer — Reamers
- Height gauges — Gauges
- Hole gauge — Bore gauges
- Horizontal machining center — Horizontal machining tools
- Horizontal turning center — Computerized numerical control CNC lathes
- Laser cutting machine — Computerized numerical control CNC laser cutting equipment
- Laser measuring systems — Automatic measuring equipment
- Laser printers
- Metal broaching machines — Keyway broaches
- Microcontrollers — Controllers; Programmable logic controllers PLC
- Micrometers — Slot micrometers
- Milling machines — Computerized numerical control CNC routers; Manual mills
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Pin gauge — Pin gauges
- Power buffers — Buffers
- Power drills
- Power grinders — Bench grinders
- Power sanders
- Profiling and duplicating milling machine — Swiss screw machines
- Safety glasses — Welding lenses
- Spot welding machine — Portable welding equipment
- Surface grinding machine — Surface grinding machines
- Tapping machine — Computerized numerical control CNC tappers; Tapping machines
- Thread counters or gauges — Thread gauges
- Threading machine — Threading machines
- Tracer or duplicating or contouring lathe — 5 axis lathes; 8 axis lathes; Lathes
- Traveling column milling machine — 2/3 axis computer numerically controlled CNC milling machines; Bore mills; Computer numerical controlled CNC milling machines
- Turning machines — Computerized numerical control CNC turning centers; Turning centers
- Turret lathe — Swiss style lathes
- Vertical machining center — Vertical milling machines
- Vertical turning center — Computer numerical control CNC vertical lathes
- Welding masks — Welding shields
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — CNC Consulting Machinists' Calculator; EditCNC software; Kentech Trig Kalculator
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD software; KCDw Software; SolidWorks CAD software; UGS Solid Edge
- Computer aided manufacturing CAM software — 1CadCam Unigraphics; CNC Mastercam; SmartCAM software; Vero International VISI-Series (see all 32 examples)
- Development environment software — MUMPS M
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software
- Industrial control software — Work inspection software
- Information retrieval or search software — Kentech PROTALK
- Object or component oriented development software — G-code
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Kentech Kipware software; Microsoft Project
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Equipment Selection — Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
- Repairing — Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
Detailed Work Activities
- Remove products or workpieces from production equipment.
- Mount attachments or tools onto production equipment.
- Calculate specific material, equipment, or labor requirements for production.
- Mount materials or workpieces onto production equipment.
- Measure dimensions of completed products or workpieces to verify conformance to specifications.
- Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
- Watch operating equipment to detect malfunctions.
- Adjust equipment controls to regulate coolant flow.
- Adjust equipment controls to regulate flow of production materials or products.
- Load materials into production equipment.
- Study blueprints or other instructions to determine equipment setup requirements.
- Set equipment controls to meet cutting specifications.
- Remove accessories, tools, or other parts from equipment.
- Install mechanical components in production equipment.
- Stack finished items for further processing or shipment.
- Enter commands, instructions, or specifications into equipment.
- Clean production equipment.
- Replace worn equipment components.
- Lift materials or workpieces using cranes or other lifting equipment.
- Test electrical equipment or systems to ensure proper functioning.
- Confer with others to resolve production problems or equipment malfunctions.
- Program equipment to perform production tasks.
- Maintain production or processing equipment.
- Monitor lubrication of equipment or workpieces.
- Draw guide lines or markings on materials or workpieces using patterns or other references.
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 85% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 79% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 89% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 65% responded “Extremely important.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 77% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 56% responded “Extremely important.”
- Time Pressure — 63% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Standing — 65% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 47% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 57% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Contact With Others — 46% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 49% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 44% responded “Extremely important.”
- Consequence of Error — 38% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 35% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 46% responded “Important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 29% responded “Every day.”
- Degree of Automation — 37% responded “Moderately automated.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 27% responded “Important results.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 32% responded “More than half the time.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 32% responded “Every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 43% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 54% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Physical Proximity — 44% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|39||High school diploma or equivalent|
|15||Some college, no degree|
Interest code: RC
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$17.52 hourly, $36,440 annual|
|Employment (2014)||149,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Much faster than average (14% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||71,200|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Metal and plastic machine workers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) , 9300 Livingston Rd., Fort Washington, MD 20744. Phone: (800) 248-6862.
- Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) , 6700 West Snowville Rd., Brecksville, OH 44141-3292. Phone: (440) 526-0300. Fax: (440) 526-5803.
- Precision Metalforming Association Educational Foundation (PMAEF) , 6363 Oak Tree Blvd., Independence, OH 44131-2500. Phone: (216) 901-8800. Fax: (216) 901-9190.