How to Learn CNC Programming [Best Resources] - Machinist's Guides (2023)

Vonbrandon hunter

table of Contents

What is CNC programming?

CNC programming is the process of creating and executing a program consisting of G code on a CNC machine to move the machine and control its functions.

There is a wide range of types of CNC machines, from industrial milling machines and lathes to home machines like 3D printers, laser engravers, and CNC routers.

All these CNC machines use the same thingG code languageto control the machine.

How difficult is it to learn CNC programming?

Learning basic CNC programming is quite easy. It is about learning how the CNC machine responds to a series of codes. Most codes are easy to remember with a little practice (F for feed rate, S for spindle speed), and for the harder codes to remember, cheat sheet-like references aren't usually too far off. .

Learning advanced CNC programming will take longer. Practice and repetition help, as does attending local training programs or completing training online.

Wait when learning CNC programmingapply math skills,learn to read production plansand work with specialized computer programs.

What are the steps involved in CNC programming?

How to Learn CNC Programming [Best Resources] - Machinist's Guides (1)

(Video) G & M Code - Titan Teaches Manual Programming on a CNC Machine.

plan the program

The first step in CNC programming is planning your program. In this step, you select the machine and tools that will be used to manufacture your part. The operations to create the part (shaping the part, drilling, milling, etc.) and the order of these steps are specified.

write the program

Now that you know what you will use to make the part (machine and tools) and how you will make the part (order of operations), the program can be written.

When writing the program, you create the code by hand or using software to create the instructions to make the machine work.

This step typically creates documentation that lists any special requirements to run the program, such as: B. the tools to be used, compensation information, and information about the device.

Set up the CNC machine

The role of the CNC programmer sometimes ends once the program is written and documented. However, in many machine shops, programmers are also responsible for setting up and/or operating the machines.

Setting up the CNC machine includes loading the correct tools, setting offsets, loading the program, and running a first part to verify that everything is going as planned.

Types of CNC programming

manual programming

With manual programming, the programmer creates the G code by hand. All functions and movements of the machine are controlled by code.

Manual programming of CNC programs is mainly done with very simple programs.

conversational programming

With conversational programming, you give the machine the specific parameters or dimensions that are required, and the CNC machine generates the code for you based on the input.

Conversational programming is a compromise between manual programming and programming with CAD/CAM systems. Conversational programming simplifies the programming of features that can be difficult to program manually.

Conversational programming can allow for shorter programming times compared to CAD/CAM programming options. It also generally requires much less training than is required to work with CAD/CAM packages.

Programming with CAD/CAM

How to Learn CNC Programming [Best Resources] - Machinist's Guides (2)

Most of today's CNC programming is done using various computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software packages. These software programs allow the creation of long and complex CNC programs with much less work compared to manual or conversational programming.

CAD/CAM programs can program things that would not be possible with manual or conversational programming. There are many different CAD/CAM software programs, some of which are the most common.autocad,Fusion 360,Solid work,mastercam&EDGECAM.

(Video) 9 Lines of Code Every CNC Machinist Needs To Know! - Haas Automation Tip of the Day

How to start learning CNC programming

Local University/Education

One of the best ways to start learning CNC machining is to look up local educational resources like universities, community colleges, training programs, etc.Manufacturing Extension Association (MEP) in your state..

These resources often offer unmatched instruction and hands-on use of the equipment.

In some areas, companies have developed their own training programs that they run to support the training of their local workforce.

Training at your own pace

If you don't have local training options available, there are plenty of resources you can use to learn CNC programming and machining on your own schedule.

YouTube has a lot of informative how-to videos and there is a lot of information on other online resources

We recommend reviewing our list ofThe best machining and CNC booksto find the best reference material available.

Learning on your own can be daunting, especially when you don't know where to start. That's why we've put together a CNC programming learning roadmap to guide you and make sure you focus on the important things first.

online training

For those looking for a more structured approach, there are CNC training resources online andcourses available as GCodeTutor.

The biggest benefit of online training is that you can work at your own pace. The best online training programs offer help resources, as well as quizzes and projects to test your knowledge.

Types of CNC machines

CNC machines used to be extremely expensive machines that only big companies could buy.

In recent years, the cost of CNC machines has come down quite a bit. The large industrial machines are still available, but they are accompanied by a new generation of machines aimed at hobbyists and manufacturers.

(Video) The Skill You NEED to Quickly Become a Great Machinist

Home / Hobby Machines

How to Learn CNC Programming [Best Resources] - Machinist's Guides (3)

industrial level machines

How to Learn CNC Programming [Best Resources] - Machinist's Guides (4)
  • mills
  • lathes
  • Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM)

frequent questions

Do you need a degree to get a job in CNC programming?

No degree is required to become a CNC programmer, although prior training or certification is highly valued by employers.

Many employers are willing to offer on-the-job training to teach new employees the skills necessary to do the job.

How long does it take to learn to program CNC?

The basics of CNC programming can be learned in no time. Learning the basics only takes a few months.

However, CNC programming is a broad field and it will take you much longer to gain a solid understanding of all that CNC programming entails.

Becoming a highly skilled CNC programmer will probably take years. Training programs have an average duration of 1-4 years. Also, practical experience is required to become a true master of the trade. Anyone who works hard and studies hard will certainly shorten this period of time considerably, especially when working on agood training program.

(Video) CNC Machinist Made Easy: Intro to G codes

Is CNC programming a good job?

CNC programming is a great potential career. There is a great demand for CNC specialists all over the world. Many experienced CNC programmers and machinists are expected to retire in the coming years, and a smaller number of younger workers entering the field has created a high demand for skilled CNC workers.

The demand for CNC professionals is so great that many in the CNC industry "the skills gap“.

This skills gap has created a good opportunity for anyone looking for a high-paying job in the industry.

What is the salary of a CNC programmer?

Ocean, the average CNC programmer makes about $85,000 a year.

That's about $40 an hour.

CNC programming is similar to other specialized trades and can pay quite well even without a college degree.Receive training or certificationIt will help improve your chances of landing this well-paying position.

What skills does a CNC programmer need?

Because most CNC programming positions require the use of specialized CAD/CAM software, the best programmers have strong computer skills.

CNC programming positions often require math skills as well. Trigonometry, geometry, and algebra are commonly used in programming. Often, computer software performs the necessary calculations, but there are many cases where it is necessary to verify the calculations by hand.

Fortunately, most math skills only use a limited set of formulas. To get a better idea of ​​the type of math skills involved, check out oursBeginner's Guide to Auto Shop Math.

What other jobs require similar skills to CNC programming?

CNC and machine operatorsThey are the professions most related to CNC programming. Often it is the operators who execute the CNC programs.

It's quite common for operators to gain some experience in your machine shop and work their way up to a position in CNC programming.

CNC and machinist positions tend to be much less demanding when it comes to computer and math skills, and are a great place to start for anyone interested in learning CNC machining.

(Video) Master CNC Programmer | TOP 5 things They WON'T Tell You


What is the best way to learn CNC programming? ›

By far the best way to learn how to program CNC operations is simply to learn from someone who already knows. You may be able to find internships, or simply start working at a machine shop under a trained CNC operator.

Can I teach myself CNC? ›

Very basic CNC programming is easy to learn, provided that you understand basic math and have a grasp of how machining works. This can usually be learned within a few days. Intermediate programming skills can be learned within a year and advanced CNC programming can take several years to learn.

How can I learn CNC machinist? ›

How to Learn CNC: Step-by-Step
  1. Enroll in a class. To learn CNC, the first step is to enroll in a course or a class. ...
  2. Get trained. Once you complete a course, it's time to put your knowledge into action. ...
  3. Get certified. There are various certifications available to machinists. ...
  4. Apply for a job.
Dec 22, 2020

How long does it take to learn CNC machinist? ›

Typically it takes around four or five years of combined education and on-the-job training to become fully trained.

What state pays CNC machinists the most? ›


Do you need to be good at math for CNC? ›

2. IT and math skills. In order to transform the drawing into a real object, the operator is required to use Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. This requires a good level of IT and math skills.

Is CNC machinist hard? ›

Summary. So as we've discussed, the CNC machining process can be challenging to master but it is certainly not out of your reach. You should expect it to take over 3 years of hard work to master but it can take just a few hours of easy tutorials to create basic parts.

Do you have to be smart to be a CNC machinist? ›

You Have Excellent Problem-Solving Skills

Having an analytical mind and being able to approach a problem from different angles is important. Being a CNC machinist requires many hands-on skills, but also requires brain power.

What does R mean in CNC programming? ›

* K - Distance along Z Axis to center of circle. * R - Radius of circle. * X - X-Axis motion command. * Y - Y-Axis motion command.

What is the difference between a CNC machinist and a CNC programmer? ›

One these important specifics are determined, CNC programmers then code the details into numbered, sequential instructions for a machine – and CNC machinist – to follow. Since the role of CNC programmer is so important, these professionals tend to earn a higher salary than machinists and operators.

Is being a CNC machinist stressful? ›

Machining can be a stressful occupation, as it requires intense precision and high attention to detail.

What math does CNC machinist use? ›

Spoiler alert, in Precision Machining, we all use a lot of math through algebra, geometry trig and statistics. Our machinists and quality technicians use and apply algebra, geometry, trig and statistics on the job everyday.

Does CNC machining pay well? ›

The average salary for a cnc machinist in California is $44,000 per year. Cnc machinist salaries in California can vary between $20,000 to $88,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.

Do CNC machinists make money? ›

On, the national average salary of a CNC machinist is estimated at $22 per hour, whereas the typical range usually falls between $19 and $25 per hour.

What skills does a CNC machinist need? ›

Which CNC Machinist Skills Are Employers Looking For?
  • Technical writing and comprehension (cited by 93 percent of employers)
  • Simulation, modeling, and analysis (cited by 92 percent)
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills (91 percent)
  • CNC programming (86 percent)
  • Additive manufacturing (83 percent)
Mar 21, 2018

What type of machinist makes the most money? ›

High Paying Machinist Jobs
  • Tool Pusher. Salary range: $44,000-$131,000 per year. ...
  • Prototype Machinist. Salary range: $51,500-$76,500 per year. ...
  • Machine Shop Supervisor. Salary range: $55,500-$75,000 per year. ...
  • Field Machinist. ...
  • Machinist Supervisor. ...
  • Gear Machinist. ...
  • Lead Machinist. ...
  • Machine Programmer.

What is the highest salary of CNC? ›

What is the highest salary for a CNC Machinist in India? Highest salary that a CNC Machinist can earn is ₹11.0 Lakhs per year (₹91.7k per month).

What is the highest salary of CNC operator? ›

Highest salary that a CNC Milling Machine Operator can earn is ₹5.5 Lakhs per year (₹45.8k per month).

What makes a good CNC machinist? ›

Successful machinists have the following skills: Ability to read blueprints and part drawings. Programming and setup of CNC machines. Ability to set up and operate machine tools for drilling, milling and grinding.

What makes a good machinist? ›

People who are detail-oriented and strive for perfection generally succeed as machinists. Firm attention is required in order to handle expensive, dangerous machinery and produce cutting-edge products to specification.

Is CNC in high demand? ›

There is no doubt that CNC jobs are highly in demand in today's job market. Precision engineered metalwork is used in almost every industry, from defence, aerospace all the way to consumer goods and medical equipment.

Do machinists have to be good at math? ›

Machinists have to use math on a daily basis to succeed at their jobs. Let's look at a few ways to make the arduous process of mathematics a little easier on machinists.

How long is CNC training? ›

Full CNC machinist degree programs are offered by technical colleges and typically take two academic years to complete. These programs entail educational classes and industry-specific courses to prepare students for the job market.

Do machinists need math? ›

You'll need good computer skills, math skills and be comfortable working in industrial settings.

Is CNC machinist a skilled trade? ›

A CNC machinist is a skilled tradesperson who works with precise metal cutting, shaping, and grinding equipment. Setting up, maintaining, and using this machinery, these professionals create and repair metal parts.

Will machinists be in demand? ›

Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need about 44,100 machinists and tool and die makers per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Can you be a machinist without a degree? ›

Machinists play an active role in programming and designing machines that produce tools, precision metal parts and delicate instruments. Becoming a machinist doesn't require any degree except a high school diploma or GED, but you do need training through a community college, trade school or apprenticeship program.

What does G95 mean in CNC code? ›

When G95 is active, a spindle revolution will result in a travel distance specified by the Feed value. If Setting 9 is set to INCH, then the feed value F will be taken as inches/rev (set to MM, then the feed will be taken as mm/rev).

What does G02 mean in CNC code? ›

G02 is used to machine an arc or radius in a clockwise direction and G03 is for anti clockwise. Using an 'R' value to define the radius, the G02/G03 command moves the cutter in a straight line with the defined radius at the end of this move.

What does G71 mean in CNC code? ›

G71 is our G-Code that lets the controls know that we wish to use a roughing cycle and that the following information applies to that. The U on the first line of code is the depth of cut of each roughing pass.

What is the salary of a CNC programmer? ›

CNC Programmer salary in India ranges between ₹ 0.3 Lakhs to ₹ 6.2 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 3.0 Lakhs.

Is CNC machinist a good career? ›

It pays well, has excellent long-term employment prospects, and offers interesting work. And you don't need a college degree to get started. According to, the average in-state tuition for Illinois public colleges is almost $9,500 a year. For a private college, it's almost $30,000 a year.

Is there a shortage of machinists? ›

The shortage of experienced manufacturing professionals is an issue that manufacturing shops have been facing for years. As the current workforce of NC programmers and machinists get ready for retirement, there's less and less talent coming in to take their place.

Are CNC machinist in demand? ›

Yes, being a CNC machinist is worth pursuing.

This position is in demand and typically makes a median salary of $42,000 per year. Additionally, this position is possible without a degree, making it a profitable career to pursue for those who are not interested in further education.

What is the future of machinists? ›

Despitelimitedemployment growth, about 44,100 openings for machinists and tool and die makers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

What language is used for programming most CNC machines? ›

G-code, simply put, is the language that CNC machines understand. In this piece, we refer to all of this language as G-code, although it can be broken down into smaller pieces according to function: G, M, F, S, and T. Each letter differentiates different commands for the machining process: G: machine motion.

What qualifications do I need to be a CNC programmer? ›

You'll need:
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools.
  • maths knowledge.
  • the ability to work on your own.
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes.
  • analytical thinking skills.
  • design skills and knowledge.

Can I learn CNC programming online? ›

Master G-Code programming

The Four Professional G-Code training courses are a complete online training package to enable you to master CNC programming across all machine types. You will learn how to program G-Code on Milling machines, Lathes and machining centres. From beginner to expert in less than a week.

What do you need to know to be a CNC programmer? ›

CNC Programmer Requirements:
  • High school diploma or GED.
  • Previous work experience as a CNC programmer.
  • Ability to read and interpret design blueprints.
  • Extensive experience with computer modeling software.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Ability to work independently and stick to a deadline.

How do I start a CNC programmer? ›

To become a contract CNC programmer, complete an associate degree or certificate program in machine tool programming or numerically controlled programming. Management and supervisory positions may require a bachelor's degree.

What is a CNC programmer salary? ›

CNC Programmer salary in India ranges between ₹ 0.3 Lakhs to ₹ 6.2 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 3.0 Lakhs.

Is CNC difficult to learn? ›

Summary. So as we've discussed, the CNC machining process can be challenging to master but it is certainly not out of your reach. You should expect it to take over 3 years of hard work to master but it can take just a few hours of easy tutorials to create basic parts.

Do CNC programmers make good money? ›

The salaries of CNC Programmers in the US range from $32,330 to $75,780 , with a median salary of $48,990 . The middle 60% of CNC Programmers makes between $48,990 and $57,000, with the top 80% making $75,780.

What software do CNC programmers use? ›

CAM software is used to program toolpaths and to generate the G-code that controls CNC machines like mills, routers, lathes, and wire EDMs. CAD/CAM software, like Mastercam, is used to take parts from design through production within a single, user friendly interface.

What math is required for CNC machinist? ›

Spoiler alert, in Precision Machining, we all use a lot of math through algebra, geometry trig and statistics. Our machinists and quality technicians use and apply algebra, geometry, trig and statistics on the job everyday.

What is the highest paid machinists? ›

Machinist Pay Distribution

The highest paid Machinist made $133,117 in 2021.

How long is CNC machine training? ›

Certificate programs in machining or machine technology require anywhere from 12 to 32 credit hours to complete. Courses in blueprint reading, machine tools, and basic shop practices are often part of the curriculum. Associate degree programs in this field offer similar coursework.

What are the first 6 steps to consider before writing a CNC program? ›

Here are six planning steps to complete before producing a new program.
  1. Step 1: Determine the machining operations to be performed. ...
  2. Step 2: Decide the machining order. ...
  3. Step 3: Do the math. ...
  4. Step 4: Consider the workholding device. ...
  5. Step 5: Consider the cutting tools. ...
  6. Step 6: Write the documentation.
Mar 16, 2020

How long is a CNC program? ›

This means that the company must have an eligible CNC machinist journeyperson to supervise your work and sign off on your apprenticeship hours. The apprenticeship program takes four years, and you must complete over 1,560 hours of on-the-job training.


1. ⚙️⚡⚡ Basic Intro to CNC programming
(Dan's Guide to Everything)
2. Beginners Guide to Manual & CNC Machining!
3. CNC Basics - What You Need To Get Started
(Product Design Online)
4. Essential Reading for Machinists! - Haas Automation TOD Toolbox
(Haas Automation, Inc.)
5. Introduction to CNC Lathe Programming
6. All You Need To Know To Start Your Journey With Your LongMill
(Sienci Labs)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated: 31/08/2023

Views: 5644

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.