As a CNC programmer, salary is tied to your skills and the projects you work on. If you work on five-axis machines, machining parts valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can demand a high salary. With decades of experience, you could earn more than $130,000 per year.

How is the salary for a CNC programmer?

The salary for a CNC programmer depends on several things:

  • Location – I am sure this is not a big surprise for anyone, but your location has a lot to do with pay.
  • Years of experience – If you are a recent CNC programmer graduate, you can’t expect top pay. You shouldn’t expect an employer to pay you a huge salary with only some hobby machining experience.
  • Work experience – Someone with complex work experience can demand a higher salary than someone who worked on simple CNC jobs.
  • Stress tolerance – Some of the highest-paying CNC programmer jobs are also the most stressful. For many people, making over $100,000 isn’t worth the stress. You have to be realistic about your stress tolerance. If you want to make top dollar, you have to learn to work in a high-stress environment.

How much does a CNC programmer make per hour?

The reality of hourly wages for a CNC programmer is that there is a wide range. Some companies require highly specialized skills, and they are also paying higher hourly salaries. On the other hand, if you have experience working on five-axis projects worth tens of thousands of dollars, you can expect to make a top-level salary.

Don’t expect to make $80,000 right after you have received your CNC certification. Most companies won’t let you work on expensive aerospace parts right out of school. If you want to earn the highest CNC programmer wage, you need to invest years in learning the necessary job skills.

If you are just starting your career as a CNC programmer, you should be able to make about $$16 to 20 per hour. Making up to $25-hours per hour is a possibility, if you have at least five years of experience.

If you are dedicated to being outstanding, you can expect your salary to rise quickly. To be the best, you have to be constantly learning. Expecting to make the highest money in your career right away is unrealistic. You may find an employer that pays above your skill level, but more than likely, you will have to build up your salary over the years.

Is a CNC programmer a good career?

With a relatively low barrier of entry, competitive starting salary, and positive job outlook, a career as a CNC programmer is an excellent opportunity for the right person.

A CNC programmer might be right for you if you want to:

  • Convert ideas into parts that may end up in space.
  • Constantly learn and develop new CNC programming skills.
  • Work in a fast-paced environment, requiring mental and physical stamina.
  • Combine technology with highly skilled machining.
  • Work with your hands instead of in an office environment.
  • Solve complex machining problems.
  • Focus on the details of each process required to create a new part.

Are CNC programmers in demand?

Overall the projected market for CNC programmers is projected to grow.

CNC programmers are in demand in several industries:

  • Aerospace
  • Oil & Gas
  • Medical
  • Industrial
  • Hand tools & equipment
  • Electronics
  • Nuclear

What does a CNC programmer do?

A computer numerically controlled (CNC) programmer writes instructions for CNC machines that cut raw materials into valuable parts. The CNC programmer’s responsibility is to program the computer that is connected to the mill. It’s a critical job because the computer controls the movement of the machine’s axis. Thus, the more axis a CNC machine has, the more complex jobs it can perform.

The job responsibilities of a CNC programmer include:

  • Interpreting project blueprints
  • Designing programs
  • Creating devices to produce the desired part

What degree do you need to be a CNC programmer?

If you want to get a job as a CNC programmer, you don’t need to have a college degree. But, of course, it might help you to get a job if you have a degree. Some employers prefer to hire college graduates.

Many employers want to hire CNC programmers with at least five years of experience. Instead of a degree, it’s more important for a CNC programmer to have the necessary job skills.

Is CNC programming hard?

CNC programming isn’t hard to learn. You can quickly learn to complete basic CNC programming projects. You need to know basic math and have an understanding of how machining works. You can learn basic CNC programming skills within a few days, but you need at least six months to a year for intermediate CNC programming skills. And if you want a CNC programmer job with top pay, you will need to learn for years.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.