Computer Numeric Co-processor (CNC) Design and Programming for Furniture and Metal Manufacturing

While computer numeric co-processor (CNC) design and programming is not a “new” job field, there is certainly a shortage of individuals in the workplace trained to perform this job in the furniture and metal manufacturing industries.  Unfortunately, few engineers or programmers venture into the CNC design and programming arena, making it necessary to bring individuals from foreign countries to perform the work.  Individuals who are interested in this job field should find the following information helpful in making a determination regarding whether this may be a career possibility.

Job-related skills, tasks, industries, future sustainability, etc.

What skills and/or areas of competency should you possess for a successful career in the CNC design or programming industry for employment in a furniture or metal manufacturing environment?

In many instances, an associates degree is required.  Skills and abilities should include effective organizational, time management and interpersonal communication skills, the ability to analyze and solve problems and work independently but also in a team environment.  If considering the furniture industry, experience in woodworking is a plus. You should also be proficient in MRP and MS Office Suite, and have substantial knowledge of Fanuc Controllers, Part nesting and CAM and 3D Software.

The functions or tasks you may expect to be responsible for may include developing programs, collaborating with research and development, fabrication and other departments to design and create sample parts for market.  In the computer numeric co-processor design and programming job industry, it will be necessary to continually evaluate and learn new and existing software and hardware.  You may also be required to review machining processes in order to determine the most efficient method to machine parts.

Some of the industries which employ CNC programmers (also frequently referred to as numerical tool and process control programmers) are the screw, nut and bolt manufacturing industry, aerospace product and parts manufacturing, metalworking machinery manufacturing and architectural and structural metals manufacturing industries.  Not surprisingly, the aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry typically offers the highest average salary.  Perhaps the popularity of these industries is one reason the furniture industry has a difficult time obtaining employees who meet requirements without going overseas.

What does the future hold for those who desire a career in CNC design and programming?  A few years ago, many who worked in this field feared that automated software and steady advances in a level of automation that required no human intervention would be the end of their careers.  Today, those in the computer numeric co-processor design/programming field have found that rather than a tactician, those in the field are becoming strategists and are involved more in the “big picture” of process planning.

In the furniture and metal manufacturing industries, the fact is CNC design/programmers are needed but there seem to be few takers.  Is this career better suited to a new worker, or an individual who is already skilled/knowledgeable in CNC?  The answer – a little of both.  While new workers have usually been educated on the latest, cutting-edge technologies, older more experienced workers have a firm grasp of what is required in the job position, and can always take courses to refresh their knowledge and learn what’s new.   Whether you are new to the career field or have been employed in this capacity in the past, keep in mind the need for individuals who qualify; after all, satisfying careers are not easy to come by in today’s economic climate.