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Career Profile: Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers

Develop programs to control machining or processing of materials by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems. May also set up, operate, or maintain equipment.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 27,100 people employed as computer numerically controlled tool programmers in the United States. The median annual salary is $57,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $37,730 per year and senior employees earn approximately $88,860 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Write programs in the language of a machine's controller and store programs on media, such as punch tapes, magnetic tapes, or disks.
  • 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.
  • 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 according to guidelines for tool speed and efficiency, using colored markers.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
27,100
Annual Openings:
4,100
Increase in Openings by 2030:
27%
Annual Salary Range:
$37,730 - $88,860
Education Requirements:
Some college