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Breaking into CNC Programming and Machining

Jhenntradesman

Plastic
Joined
Apr 21, 2022
Hey guys I’m a new member of the forum but have been following along via social media for a few years now. I apologize in advance if this post is in the wrong area. I am mechanic in the boating industry looking to make a career change. I would like to break into the CNC programming and machining world by applying for some entry level jobs in my area. One of the places hiring is Kennametal. I currently don’t have much experience other than the casual home use of fusion 360 and utilizing my 3D printer and friends CNC plasma table for small hobby parts. My two questions are, One: do you have any recommendations for a newbie trying to get into this field, maybe a article or thread that I’ve missed.. Question number two: do you recommend Gcode Tutor? I have been thinking about enrolling in their courses before I started my job search. Any advise would be amazing and thank you in advance.
 

plastikdreams

Diamond
Joined
May 31, 2011
Location
upstate nj
Any schooling is worthwhile. There may be a trade school or community College that offers machining courses. You aren't going to be a programmer or operator just by reading though. Learning how to be a machinist is a pretty important step in the process. If you don't know how to cut metal how can you program things to cut metal?
 

Jhenntradesman

Plastic
Joined
Apr 21, 2022
Thanks for the response, and I agree there's nothing better than hands on learning. I'm hoping to find a entry level position to work my way up while studying at home as well. This is the route I took when pursuing my marine mechanic field over a decade ago, but even then it was hard to find an apprentice style entry level job, so I imagine it to be no easier. Thank you very much for the advise.
 

plastikdreams

Diamond
Joined
May 31, 2011
Location
upstate nj
Eh it's not so far fetched. In 2010 I left a solid career to start as a cnc machinist. I had some manual experience but I was pretty much a beginner. After a few months the company had a big slowdown and I was laid off, as were 4 or 5 others as I later found out. With that experience I found an advanced gcode and mastercam classes and took them. I had got another job as an operator at a company that did all plastic, hence the name. Left that place, very toxic, after completing the course for my first job in a mold shop...etc years later I'm back in the mold game. My main schooling was different jobs in different fields. Takes time but pays off. Experience can never be beaten.

Schooling is great but if you can augment it with a job you'll really get ahead.
 

Fadriver

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 24, 2011
Location
los angels ca.
Thanks for the response, and I agree there's nothing better than hands on learning. I'm hoping to find a entry level position to work my way up while studying at home as well. This is the route I took when pursuing my marine mechanic field over a decade ago, but even then it was hard to find an apprentice style entry level job, so I imagine it to be no easier. Thank you very much for the advise.

I was similar case, i was shoveling chips, oiling machines, deburring parts, forklift operator
but i was told no in their tool room, and a friend told his company had hard time retaining drafters
so went to night school after work and 8 full hours saturday , the found a job doing table drafting and
running back then printer machine, and kept going to manual machining at night, and then cnc classes
all theory school had a bridgeport 2 axis cnc, then came my break a cnc programmer got drunk for 3 days
"no call no show" fired, plant manager came and said no more drafting go to the shop and make things happen.
my income improved and later saved a little to buy myself a job, machine shop owner.
 

plastikdreams

Diamond
Joined
May 31, 2011
Location
upstate nj
The key is, never stop looking. A lot of times in this trade the only way to get a raise is to get another job.

Fortunately I'm at a point where I'm happy where I'm at, I'm making the most I've ever made, the company is very stable, and im having fun. I've gotten offers for more money but it's not worth it at this point.

I wouldn't be where I'm at if I didn't job hop though.

There's plenty of success stories on here.
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
I would never discourage someone from educating themselves. Be very careful and do your research first, though. I've had a few bad experiences with people who got a trade school certificate and didn't even know the most basic of fundamentals. There are a lot of 'schools' out there that just deposit money and print certificates. Personally, I wouldn't consider hiring a programmer who hasn't done their time on the floor. You need to put in your time first. If you want to do an apprenticeship, find a small shop. In a big modern production machine shop, they mostly breed button monkeys anymore and you won't realize it, because you don't know what you don't know. Also, be aware that the pay for guys just starting out can be tough to deal with.

Alternatively, if you want to be a craftsman, you can get a Barlow knife and take up whittling.
 

guythatbrews

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 14, 2017
Location
MO, USA
Agree small shop is the way to go, if you feel there is a mentor there, and a path to higher things. Some places aren't interested in teaching, be they big or small. Tell them you want to understand/learn machining first because only then can you be effective programmer. Too many schools are telling students 6 month course = easy street hi hi pay programming job immediately. Just not true.

IMO to really understand what you are doing a solid foundation in trig and geometry is essential. School if you don't have it.

Agree lots of dummies teaching CAM and machine work at colleges/ trade schools. Vet the teacher if you can. Easier said than done.

This is a journey you are choosing, not a destination. Pretty much life long learning if you wanna excel. One class in CAD/CAM does not a machinist make. Use YouTube as a training supplement. Books and study come first.

But it can be a. fulfilling, interesting journey. Good luck!

Oh, don't know about gcode tutor. Learning gcode somehow is a must. Show interviewer you can write a generic piece of code offhand instead of just telling him, and he will be impressed. Think hard about getting a job where shop relies on conversational programming. IMO For general learning that is a step back.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
Definitely be upfront with your intentions when applying for a job. There are plenty of shops where there isn't much room for advancement, that applies to small, medium and large shops. I worked at a medium sized place that refused to promote from within on higher positions. The reasoning was the owner did not want to hurt the feelings of those that got passed over. The guy hired and fired 3 general managers, for a job that should have either went to me or the head of quality control. Funny thing those inept GMs kept coming to me and the QC guy for help. I was about ready to go out on my own anyway, so I rode out the BS till I could not take it anymore. After the idiot owner fired GM#3 he divided up the GM duties between me, QC guy, and the office manager. No raise just more OT.

In the mill department, both set-up guys, and the programmer were in their 30's and well paid. They weren't going anywhere. With pallet systems and probing, everyone else in that department was nothing but a part loader, no room to learn.

Moral of the story, until you are highly skilled, don't end up at that place, it is the road to nowhere.
 








 
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