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Computer Control Programmer

Career Highlights

  • Control machines that cut and shape products
  • Programmers turn paper plans into a set of instructions
  • Employers prefer employees who can adapt to new technology

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Career Summary

Computer Control ProgrammersComputer control programmers use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to cut and shape precision products, such as automobile parts, machine parts, and compressors. CNC machines cut away material from a solid block of metal, plastic, or glass to form a finished part or product and usually produce large quantities of one part to be used in making something else.

Computer control programmers turn paper plans into a set of instructions for the CNC machines to follow. These commands normally are a series of numbers (hence, numerical control) that describes where cuts will be placed, what type of cut should be made, and the speed of the cut to be used on the material.

Because a problem with the program could damage the machine, computer simulations are often used to check the program. If errors are found, the computer control programmer must change and retest the simulation until the problem is resolved. In addition, both CAD software and CNC machine tools are being used together more often to increase productivity by automatically translating designs into instructions. So Computer control programmers need to be versatile.

Employers are increasing preferring employees who can quickly adapt to new technology and perform a wide range of tasks. This may include the basic skills of a machinist and a CNC programmer. Since CNC machines can operate with limited input from the operator, a single operator may monitor several machines simultaneously. Operators are often expected to carefully schedule their work so that all of the machines are always operating.




Requires a degree in:

  • CAD
  • Computer Programming
  • Metalworking

Career Skills

  • Computers
  • Mathematics
  • Blueprint reading
  • Computer programming
  • Machinists
  • Detail oriented

Additional Information



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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.