Summary Report for:
51-4012.00 - Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic
Develop programs to control machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems.
Sample of reported job titles: CAD CAM Programmer (Computer-Aided Design Computer-Aided Manufacturing Programmer), Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator (CNC Machine Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machining Center Operator (CNC Machining Center Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist), Computer Numerical Control Operator (CNC Operator), Computer Numerical Control Programmer (CNC Programmer), Machine Shop Lead Man, Machining Manager, Process Engineer, Programmer
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
- Write programs in the language of a machine's controller and store programs on media such as punch tapes, magnetic tapes, or disks.
- Determine the sequence of machine operations, and select the proper cutting tools needed to machine workpieces into the desired shapes.
- Revise programs or tapes to eliminate errors, and retest programs to check that problems have been solved.
- Analyze job orders, drawings, blueprints, specifications, printed circuit board pattern films, and design data to calculate dimensions, tool selection, machine speeds, and feed rates.
- Write instruction sheets and cutter lists for a machine's controller to guide setup and encode numerical control tapes.
- Observe machines on trial runs or conduct computer simulations to ensure that programs and machinery will function properly and produce items that meet specifications.
- Enter computer commands to store or retrieve parts patterns, graphic displays, or programs that transfer data to other media.
- Modify existing programs to enhance efficiency.
- Determine reference points, machine cutting paths, or hole locations, and compute angular and linear dimensions, radii, and curvatures.
- Sort shop orders into groups to maximize materials utilization and minimize machine setup time.
- Compare encoded tapes or computer printouts with original part specifications and blueprints to verify accuracy of instructions.
- Perform preventative maintenance or minor repairs on machines.
- Prepare geometric layouts from graphic displays, using computer-assisted drafting software or drafting instruments and graph paper.
- Draw machine tool paths on pattern film, using colored markers and following guidelines for tool speed and efficiency.
- Enter coordinates of hole locations into program memories by depressing pedals or buttons of programmers.
- Align and secure pattern film on reference tables of optical programmers, and observe enlarger scope views of printed circuit boards.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Angle gauge — Digital angle gauges
- Automatic lathe or chucking machine — Computer numerically controlled CNC lathes
- Calipers — Digital calipers; Vernier calipers
- Comparators — Optical comparators
- Coordinate measuring machines CMM — Coodinate meauring machines CMM
- Dial indicator or dial gauge — Dial indicators
- Drill press or radial drill — Drill presses
- Height gauges — Digital height gauges
- Hole gauge — Bore gauges
- Metallurgical microscopes — Toolmaker's microscope
- Micrometers — Digital micrometers
- Pin gauge — Pin gauge sets
- Precision surface plate — Precision surface plates
- Profile gauge — Transfer gages
- Protractors — Vernier bevel protractors
- Radius gauge — Fillet gauges
- Sine bar — Sine bars
- Squares — Adjustable squares
- Thickness measuring devices — Thickness gauges
- Thread pitch gauge — Screw pitch gauges
- Traveling column milling machine — Vertical computer numerically controlled CNC milling machines
- Turret lathe — Vertical turret lathes VTL
- Vertical turning center — Vertical boring mills
- Wire gauge — Wire gauges
Technology used in this occupation:
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Dassault Systemes CATIA ; Dassault Systemes SolidWorks; PTC Creo Parametric
- Computer aided manufacturing CAM software — 1CadCam Unigraphics; Delcam PowerMill; Vero Software VISI; Vero Software WorkNC (see all 59 examples)
- Enterprise application integration software — Extensible markup language XML
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software
- Object or component oriented development software — G code; M code
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- 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.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Programming — Writing computer programs for various purposes.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- 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.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- 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.
- 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).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- 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.
- 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.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- 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.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- 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.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- 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.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- 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.
- 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.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- 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.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- 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.
- 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.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- 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.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Detailed Work Activities
- Program equipment to perform production tasks.
- Determine production equipment settings.
- Select production equipment according to product specifications.
- Study blueprints or other instructions to determine equipment setup requirements.
- Conduct test runs of production equipment.
- Create diagrams or blueprints for workpieces or products.
- Enter commands, instructions, or specifications into equipment.
- Calculate dimensions of workpieces, products, or equipment.
- Draw guide lines or markings on materials or workpieces using patterns or other references.
- Plan production or operational procedures or sequences.
- Perform basic equipment maintenance.
- Mount materials or workpieces onto production equipment.
- Position patterns on equipment, materials, or workpieces.
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 76% responded “Extremely important.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 89% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 47% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 55% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 73% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 55% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 49% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 59% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 57% responded “Some freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 47% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Time Pressure — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 42% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 49% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Electronic Mail — 41% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 36% responded “Very important results.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 35% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 37% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 43% responded “Very important.”
- Spend Time Standing — 42% responded “About half the time.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 48% responded “Important.”
- Physical Proximity — 70% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Consequence of Error — 24% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 43% responded “Very important.”
- Telephone — 32% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 37% responded “Every day.”
|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, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, nannies, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|24||High school diploma or equivalent|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: CIR
- 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.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- 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.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- 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.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- 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.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- 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.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- 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.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$23.55 hourly, $48,990 annual|
|Employment (2014)||25,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Much faster than average (14% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||12,400|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 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.