Is CNC Machining Hard to Learn?

Updated: Jul 13

So is CNC machining hard to learn? This question doesn't have a straight forward answer but we'll do our best to educate you so you can decide whether it would be easy for YOU to learn. While we wouldn't want to discourage anyone from applying to this lucrative trade, if you don't have an interest in trigonometry, computers, reading blueprints, or coding, than this career may not be for you!




The Path to Success


While you can become a CNC apprentice at any age, the most direct path would be entering into the general machinist field straight from high-school. To attend a college in Canada to study this trade you'll usually need an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The following credits: grade 12 English, grade 12 math and a senior physics course may not be required to get into the course but they would definitely be an asset.


The next step on the journey to CNC machinist would then be either an apprenticeship program or a college program.


Apprenticeships can occur at both the high school and college level. In high school apprentice programs are often called Co-op learning and the time you spend learning a trade goes towards a class credit. At the college level apprenticeships can be done in tandem with course work, or at the end of the term after the majority of coursework has been completed. This work will often count as a credit towards the degree but it can also set you up for a plethora of positions after you graduate.


Not only does completing an apprenticeship help you gain job experience, and it also helps determine which area of specialty is right for you. Just because you thought you'd like CNC machining doesn't necessarily mean you will like it. That's why apprenticeships tend to provide a more general scope of the trade so you can try various positions in a machining shop such as practical machining, CNC machining, CNC programming, mold making, tool building, handwork etc. to figure out what you excel at and like best.


What does machining require?

Going through a College program and apprenticeship are one thing, but what skills do you actually need to flourish in CNC environment?


Skills

- A passion for technology & design

- Knack for precision and detailed tasks

- Great reading comprehension

- Computer literacy

- Interpersonal skills

- Ability to work autonomously

- Mathematical inclination

- Technical writing & comprehension skills

- Critical thinking & problem solving skills

- Physical stamina

- Mechanical skills

- Manual dexterity & accuracy


Time

Many CNC shops use multiple shifts because it's an easy way to increase production without increasing the square footage of the shop. Depending on the size, scale and needs of the shop there can be morning shifts, afternoon shifts and night shifts.

As a potential employee it's important that you understand that CNC work can be a bit of a time commitment. You may not always be on the morning or afternoon shift, so you have to be able to adjust your life accordingly to fit your work schedule.


Physical Commitment

As with any job, CNC machining does make some demands on your body. The work environment tends to require standing for long periods of time, reaching, lifting and bending. The strain from these kinds of activities can often be countered by wearing comfortable shoes, and engaging in daily bouts of stretching.


So what do you think, is CNC machining hard to learn? Make sure to check out our open opportunities if you're interested in a CNC position. If you're just starting out your journey into the trade, send us an email! We're always happy to take on new apprentices and show them the ropes.