Machining/Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Technology

  • Do you like computers?
  • Do you like working with your hands?
  • Do you want a career where graduates start at $25,000 to $30,000 per year and can earn up to $50,000 per year?
  • Would you like to be in a program that provides job placement during your last quarter?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then consider becoming a CNC machinist. You will learn new skills and get hands-on experience operating high-tech CNC machinery.


Computer numerical control (CNC) machinists use computers to run high-tech equipment that makes tools, dies and machine parts necessary for manufacturing. CNC skills are in demand throughout Spokane and the USA.

A committee of local machine shop owners helped to design this program to prepare qualified individuals as CNC machinists.

Students learn:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Shop mathematics
  • Machine tool theory
  • Inspection
  • Statistical process control (SPC)
  • Q.A. (Quality Assurance)
  • CNC programming using state of the art software

Because of the technical nature of this program, a high school diploma or GED is recommended. It is also necessary to speak and write English. Students will find it useful to have an aptitude for mechanical skills and some mathematics.

There is a need in Washington for more than 1,000 CNC operators. Graduates of this program work in companies of different sizes, from a four-person shop to the Boeing Company. Indicators show the industry will remain strong beyond the year 2020.

Gainful Employment Disclosure

What is computerized numerical control machining technology? (Click to open)

It's a mouthful, but it is also fascinating: using computers to create metal parts and products for equipment and machines. In more simple terms, it's high-tech machining technology. Machining and metalworking have been around for a very long time, but with the advent of computer technology in the 1970s, a new industry was born. More efficient output operations with even greater precision resulted from this marriage of machining and computers.

What is this field like?

It is a fast-growing and dynamic industry that uses computers and machinery together with highly specialized software to produce manufactured metal goods. From tricycles to auto parts, and from nuts and bolts to satellites in space, anything made with metal parts is a potential candidate for computerized numerical control machining technology. The image of dark, gloomy and dirty manufacturing plants is a thing of the past. Today's manufacturing plant in the United States is lean and clean, and must remain highly competitive, employing highly skilled operators who also must keep up with technologies and manufacturing processes that are constantly evolving. The fact is, never before have opportunities in this field been greater. Across the nation, there is a high demand for skilled CNC metalworkers who currently enjoy an extremely favorable employment outlook.

What qualities do I need to be successful in this field?

Do you like to build things, take things apart and work with your hands? Perhaps you've always been interested in machines or engines or finding out how things work. To be a CNC machinist requires an ability to concentrate and stay focused for long periods of time while working on your feet. A natural inclination to problem solve, plus good math and computational skills, manual dexterity and a penchant for accuracy are all qualities that contribute to success in this field. 

What classes will I take?

CNC machining technology classes are geared to provide a solid foundation in the essential skills needed to work successfully in this field, such as machine shop, machine tool operations and a strong emphasis on specialized computer software fluency and skills. In addition, classes in mathematics, blueprints, CNC theory and labs, quality control, manufacturing economics, and resource management round out the curriculum.

Graduates of the six-quarter program of study receive an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree.

What special or additional work is required?

Students are encouraged to gain practical experience in the field at local manufacturing plants, many of which have been instrumental in setting up and advising the CNC machining technology program at Spokane Community College. These companies continue to maintain a close professional relationship with program instructors and students through the implementation of a unique opportunity called a co-op, in which a student not only earns academic credit for working, but also is paid. This situation is of obvious benefit to both the student, who gets actual professional experience, and the manufacturing plant that gets the use of skilled workers.

What job opportunities are there in this field?

CNC machining technology graduates discover there is an exceptionally high placement rate upon successful completion of the program. There are more than 50 manufacturers in the local area, from small, owner-operated shops of five or six people to major manufacturing plants of several hundred. Larger plants usually run three daily shifts around the clock. Across the country, this industry is forecasting a continuous high demand for skilled workers. In addition to working as a CNC machinist, graduates can find opportunities in the related fields of tool and die work, mold making and quality control.

What can I expect to earn?

Starting salaries in entry-level positions range from $10 to $14 per hour locally. These wages translate to $20,600 to $29,000 per year. CNC machinists with five years of experience can earn wages of $15 to $22 and more per hour. Wages can be even higher in some areas of the country, depending upon the local economic circumstances.


The main challenge in this business is to plan out each job you are given and fine tune it with accuracy and precision. This requires not only machining and computer skills, but also a healthy dose of persistence, patience and decent trouble-shooting abilities.

One particular strength of the program at SCC is that the advisers that help steer the curriculum are the local employers in the industry. If you have the skills - and you'll get them in this program - there will be plenty of opportunity for challenges and rewards in the field.

Mike Carver
CNC machine operator 
Kim Hotstart Manufacturing

Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
All course offerings are subject to change. The college cannot guarantee class offerings, designated times or specific instructors - as funding levels and student interest may affect whether or not an offering is available.

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For more information.... For more information:
Program Contact:
Eric Bouvier
(509) 533-7335 or 1-800-248-5644 ext. 7335
Counseling Contact:
Ric Villalobos, M.S., Counselor
(509) 533-7356 or 1-800-248-5644 ext. 7356
Carol Weigand
(509) 533-7344