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Career profile Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator

Also known as 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

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator

Also known as Brake Press Operator, Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator (CNC Lathe Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator (CNC Machine Operator)

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$28,750 - $63,460 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Monitoring
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Design
Core tasks
  • 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.
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What does a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator do?

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators operate computer-controlled tools, machines, or robots to machine or process parts, tools, or other work pieces made of metal, plastic, wood, stone, or other materials.

In addition, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators may also set up and maintain equipment.

What kind of tasks does a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator perform regularly?

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • 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.
  • Clean machines, tooling, or parts, using solvents or solutions and rags.
  • Set up future jobs while machines are operating.

The above responsibilities are specific to Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators. More generally, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

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 Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

What is a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator salary?

The median salary for a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator is $42,260, and the average salary is $44,300. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators earn less than $28,750 per year, 25% earn less than $34,500, 75% earn less than $52,090, and 90% earn less than $63,460.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators is expected to change by -2.5%, and there should be roughly 16,500 open positions for Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$42,260
Typical salary range
$28,750 - $63,460
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-2.5%

What personality traits are common among Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. 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.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, achievement/effort, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators, ranked by importance:

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.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

What education and training do Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators need?

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators 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 this occupation.

Educational degrees among Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators

  • 9.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 38.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 30.1% completed some college coursework
  • 14.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 7.6% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, mathematics, or design knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

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.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators need abilities such as near vision, arm-hand steadiness, and hearing sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

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 that 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.

Critical Skills needed by Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators frequently use skills like operations monitoring, monitoring, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations 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.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.