Understanding Job Roles: CNC Programmer

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

The CNC field is an interesting one because there are many different titles an individual can have. Operator? Machinist? Programmer? Are they the same thing? The short answer is no. Each has its own respective duties. Let's go over those of a CNC programmer.


Becoming a CNC programmer is a feat. It takes a significant period to achieve this title because it takes several years of education and on the job experience to have the breadth of knowledge that is required to be proficient.


A CNC programmer is the person who is responsible for telling a machine how to craft a part out of raw material. To do this, a programmer uses a 3D CAD model which they import into Powermill, a CAM programming software. Here, they can set the parameters, such as creating boundaries that will generate G-code. This is the code the machines read that tells them the area that will be cut, the cutter diameter, cutter length, cutter RPM, machine feed rate and the machining strategy. All this will allow the machine to form the raw material into the desired part. This is a very intricate process that requires great attention to detail and an in-depth knowledge of G-code and software because the parts must meet very specific standards and measurements.


Once a tool path has been tried, and refined so that the created parts are flawless, a programmer needs to document the process so that other CNCist can follow it and replicate the outcome.

Staying on top of industry trends is also important when it comes to programming because technology changes so fast! A willingness to learn and a go-getter attitude will help you to remain at the top of your game.


Here at DC Automotive Tooling, we employ many individuals who specialize in CNC in an array of positions. If you're up to the task and want to experience new challenges at a new shop, visit our opportunities page and apply for an open position! If nothing there seems to fit, email us a copy of your resume. We'll hold onto it in case an opportunity that you'd be suited for arises.