CNC Operator to CNC Machinist: Bridging the Gap

If you’re considering a career in the manufacturing industry, you’ve surely seen a lot of training programs, job posts, and other sources that refer to “CNC operators” and “CNC machinists”—and you’re probably wondering how these two titles/positions differ.

What’s the Difference between a CNC Operator and a CNC Machinist?

Generally speaking, there isn’t much difference between a CNC operator and CNC machinist, at least in terms of their primary responsibilities and function. The basic job description for both positions is essentially the same: They both set up and operate CNC machines and equipment.

CNC Machine TrainingTechnically speaking, however, there are a few noteworthy differences. A CNC machinist (or CNC set-up operator, as they are sometimes called) has additional duties, including, but not limited to:

  • Programming CNC machines
  • Troubleshooting mechanical issues
  • Quality control
  • Overseeing/managing other CNC operators

Also, the title of CNC machinist indicates a higher level of skill/expertise, which means it carries more professional weight and, in turn, comes with a bigger paycheck. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics,CNC machinists, on average, more per annum than CNC operators.

There’s one more difference between CNC operators and CNC machinists, and it’s a big one—and it’s the reason CNC machinists have more responsibilities, carry a more prestigious title, and make more money than CNC operators…CNC machinists have more experience.

How Can I Become I CNC Machinist?

In order to become a CNC machinist, you must first start out as a CNC operator and work your way up the professional ladder. Because of the complexity of CNC machines, according to industry standards, one must first prove their proficiency at basic CNC machine operation before being assigned more involved duties.

Makes sense, right? But you’ve got to be wondering: Just how long does it take for a CNC operator to prove their proficiency and garner enough experience to become a CNC machinist?

That’s a good question. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t have an easy answer. There’s no set milestone for when a CNC operator is “eligible” to become a CNC machinist, and so much of it depends on the individual worker’s job performance, as well as her/his educational and training background.

That’s a pretty slow climb up ladder in some people’s opinions. And if that’s your opinion, don’t worry. At PMI, we can give you a “boost” to help you get to the top faster.

Get on the Fast Track to Becoming a CNC Machinist with the CNC 

Machinist Program at PMI

Research has shown that professional trade training programs such as the CNC Machinist Program at PMI can help men and women advance their careers in about half the time it takes those who only have CNC operator training.

Beyond basic training, our core curriculum will teach you the fundamentals of being a CNC machinist, from blueprint reading to troubleshooting specialty equipment; and our facility will provide you with access to industry-leading CNC machines and allow you to use, and learn from, them in ways you wouldn’t be “allowed,” or otherwise couldn’t, for some time at your job as a CNC operator, thereby giving you hands-on experience beyond that of your peers and allowing you to advance your career at a quicker pace.

To learn more about getting on the fast track to a career as a CNC machinist, please give us a call or schedule an appoint to come in and meet with us and tour our facility.