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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:22 PM   #1
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Default CNC Operator (New career)

What can you tell me about the job opps for CNC operator?

I always see ads looking for a CNC operator but a requirement for 5 or more years experience. Why is this? Can a position be begged out?

I am seriously considering a change of career at this point. I'm 41. Shut it.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:35 PM   #2
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Ummm.....why?
At the very minimum you will need to be able to push a button.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:45 PM   #3
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My shop doesn't actually hire operators, we hire machinist. We require min of 5 years experience with a journeyman's card or 7 years experience. Reason, the UAW contract says so. But we can "hire in" from our press room floor with no experience and pay to send them to school in the appendices ship program.

Some places I've worked will look at less but most want some experience. When I first got into running machines, I was lucky enough to have a buddy that worked at a ma and pa shop and got me in at an entry level. I worked at that for a couple years, got laid off in the 08ish crash. Then got in to management/programming in the machining field.

Best bet, if you want a career change, is call and find a ma and pa shop that is looking to take a risk and train at an entry level position. Work your way up to a machinist and get the 5 years everyone else requires. Do you have any body you know that does this kind of work?
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:47 PM   #4
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I am really beginning to dislike what I do. It is not rewarding. With all that I have experienced working for the feds, I am looking for a better position. My industry sucks. Good enough reason?
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:49 PM   #5
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I know a guy who owns his own shop. He might be talked into helping me a bit.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:51 PM   #6
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button pushers. you will be bored
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:52 PM   #7
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I am really beginning to dislike what I do. It is not rewarding. With all that I have experienced working for the feds, I am looking for a better position. My industry sucks. Good enough reason?
Pay check isn't rewarding enough? Just messing with you. I know what you mean, I've moved around a few times when I felt I was at a dead end.

Not sure what you make but I'm guessing you will be in for a nice size pay cut when you first start out. Most entry level positions I've see are around the $10-13/hour range.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 08:55 PM   #8
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I am really beginning to dislike what I do. It is not rewarding. With all that I have experienced working for the feds, I am looking for a better position. My industry sucks. Good enough reason?
Keep current job.
Got to school for cad.
Get degree and find a job.
Once you get a job become arrogant and design parts that can't be made or outsource 50k worth of tooling that won't work, but make sure you find a vendor that has the skills to fix your shit.

Just be a greeter at walmart.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:03 PM   #9
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I currently make over $20 per hour. My focus is not on money. My career is not rewarding and at the end of the day I couldn't tell you what I did, but I am tired and ready for bed. It is a thankless position and mundane.

If I can have a position where I show an end product from conception to final product, thats cool. That would be nifty to me. I'd like to work in a shop that deals more with mechanical end-product, and not so much with engines. The shop down the road does custom lift packages for four-wheelers and golf-carts. They also recently manufactured a to-scale hobby train for a rich family in Lapeer. Now the family can ride their train around the property.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:05 PM   #10
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TSA? Gonna be tough to give up that sweet fed retirement package?
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:09 PM   #11
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TSA? Gonna be tough to give up that sweet fed retirement package?
I'm vested. No sweat.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:10 PM   #12
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I currently make over $20 per hour. My focus is not on money. My career is not rewarding and at the end of the day I couldn't tell you what I did, but I am tired and ready for bed. It is a thankless position and mundane.

If I can have a position where I show an end product from conception to final product, thats cool. That would be nifty to me. I'd like to work in a shop that deals more with mechanical end-product, and not so much with engines. The shop down the road does custom lift packages for four-wheelers and golf-carts. They also recently manufactured a to-scale hobby train for a rich family in Lapeer. Now the family can ride their train around the property.
You're talking about a very niche market for that type of stuff. If you want long term look towards prototype cad/cam
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:42 PM   #13
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If you find something rewarding, let me know. I go to work to make money. Spending that money is rewarding.
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Old December 17th, 2014, 09:42 PM   #14
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And I don't make shit......
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Old December 18th, 2014, 01:23 AM   #15
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While I am young I have noticed that a CNC operator is just someone to load a part and push start, take the part out and send it down the line. A CNC machinist is someone who makes more of the work you are looking for, they are the ones who take prints or ideas and make things. I would say if you can manage to stay at your current job and take some classes at Washtenaw Community College and get a certificate in CNC machining I would do so. Aftet that I would see if you could lean on a friend to get you some training in the field.

I am going to school for mechanical engineering and worked at a very large (350-400 people) shop for a while. These types of shops are usually very set on the part types and processes they use. This is where things got boring for me. I now work for a family friend and a company of 7 people, he has taught me CNC programming and theory. This is what I like since we are usually making small batches of 50 or fewer parts. Not to sound like a dick here but, with nothing else to fall back In terms of a degree I would go get a certificate then find the ma and pa shop for the 5 years experience.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 02:33 AM   #16
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Why not consider writing computer applications?
Even shitty programmers make more than you're making and you'll never run out of challenges. You could probably have some employable skills in a couple months of evenings if you can comprehend reading a book or two.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 04:41 AM   #17
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It's all about the attitude. We have button pushers and we have machinists. The biggest difference is the attitude and drive to try to get ahead versus the "fuck the company" attitude of "they make all the money, I'll show them". All you really show the company is that you will never move up the ladder. We have guys in their 50's who are button pushers and guys in their 20's & 30's who are enthusiastic. (and the other way around)

I agree, take some classes, learn the theory. I really don't know how much you learn in the community college classes but if you don't have any machining background, it would be a start. We have tried a few times to hire students out of Washtenaw CC with zero luck. But if you walk into a shop as a know nothing newbie, you're in the low teens for pay. If this is something you are serious about, I would also recommend looking into CNC programming. There is a shortage of good programmers and they make good money.

The real key is if you have the manufacturing ability. No insult intended here, but some people get it and others don't. Some have the patience to do good work, others don't.

Good luck.

Oh, and I'm with Strangler. My job is not rewarding to me either. I have days I enjoy it, I have days I hate it. But I never get up in the morning saying "yippee, I can't wait to get to work". Well, except for Fridays because we have bagels.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 06:22 AM   #18
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It's all about the attitude. We have button pushers and we have machinists. The biggest difference is the attitude and drive to try to get ahead versus the "fuck the company" attitude of "they make all the money, I'll show them". All you really show the company is that you will never move up the ladder. We have guys in their 50's who are button pushers and guys in their 20's & 30's who are enthusiastic. (and the other way around)

I agree, take some classes, learn the theory. I really don't know how much you learn in the community college classes but if you don't have any machining background, it would be a start. We have tried a few times to hire students out of Washtenaw CC with zero luck. But if you walk into a shop as a know nothing newbie, you're in the low teens for pay. If this is something you are serious about, I would also recommend looking into CNC programming. There is a shortage of good programmers and they make good money.

The real key is if you have the manufacturing ability. No insult intended here, but some people get it and others don't. Some have the patience to do good work, others don't.

Good luck.

Oh, and I'm with Strangler. My job is not rewarding to me either. I have days I enjoy it, I have days I hate it. But I never get up in the morning saying "yippee, I can't wait to get to work". Well, except for Fridays because we have bagels.
We don't even have bagels!!

Lots of good info in this thread, thanks you all.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 06:22 AM   #19
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In West Michigan we have a hard time finding qualified machinists. The company I work for has started an in-house training program along with classes at the local Community College in order to get enough machinists to fill our open positions.

Finding experienced Tool & Die employees is even harder.
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Old December 18th, 2014, 06:27 AM   #20
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Well, whiterhino pretty much said it all.

Only thing I can add is this:

Are you sure?

Do you REALLY want to work in CNC, or do you like the IDEA of working in CNC?

Ever done anything remotely like it, or know anyone doing it?

We've had a few entry level guys come in all geeked up about a career change, and last about 6 months, turning out unusable product and end up quitting or getting fired.

It's one thing to change careers and go into something different but related to your experience, something else entirely to go in at 40+ years with zero relatable experience.

I'm not trying to piss on your dream, I've just seen what happens sometimes.
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