CNC Machining at Southwestern Illinois College

Precision Machining (CNC)

PLEASE NOTE: The INAM Consortium was funded by a $12.9 million grant from the Department of Labor and tasked with delivering certificate programs in Advanced Manufacturing that can be completed in one year or less and prepare participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations. While the INAM grant project has ended, these training programs remain vibrant at the individual Community Colleges. Please visit the colleges for ongoing program information.  

The Precision Machining/Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Program was designed to prepare students for employment in the precision metal working industry. CNC programs provided the academic course work, hands-on skills, and advanced manufacturing processes required by employers. Students were prepared for employment in both large manufacturing corporations and small precision machining companies.

Precision CNC technicians operate high-end, computer-controlled equipment and technologies to produce precise highly-engineered components, subsystems and devices to exacting customer specifications. Most of these products produced are designed to be placed, as fully functional components, within complete high-performance systems. A key focus of these programs is on metal cutting techniques utilizing advanced technologies and computer-controlled equipment in such fields as mold making, model making, die making, machine repair and a foundational knowledge of a variety of computer numerical control (CNC) machines.

Technicians who enter this field must be flexible in performing operations and be comfortable working with a variety of materials including steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, plastics and various aerospace and medical grade metallic alloys. Courses for precision manufacturing typically included manufacturing processes, machining, technical mathematics, metrology (measurement), quality control, metallurgy, CNC (computer numerical control), print reading, and technical writing.

National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) is the leading metalworking trade association. NIMS was created by a group of US metalworking trade associations in order to develop and maintain a globally-competitive workforce here at home. NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.

Career opportunities are diverse in the field of precision machining (CNC) including:

  • CNC Operators
  • CNC Programmers
  • Manufacturing Engineering Technicians
  • Tool and Die Makers
  • And Many More

Keys to Success

Precision Machinists will need to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Read and interpret blueprints and schematics
  • Good hand/eye coordination
  • Problem solving  and effective communications 
  • Mathematical aptitude
  • Planning and time management 
  • Understanding of safety considerations


Potential Precision Machining salaries range from $27,982 to $68,949.

Actual salary will depend on specific career track, years of service, and experience.

Training and Education

Entry-level Precision Machining positions require specialized training through a college certificate or associates degree.

National Credentials

Precision Machining Certifications at various levels is awarded through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Information is available at:

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