A machine tool operation student doing hands-on work

Machine Tool Operation

Technical Diploma

28 Credits | 1 Year

Financial Aid-Eligible


Fall and Spring Start

Career Cluster: Manufacturing

Machining is the foundation of manufacturing. You may not have heard of it, but it is an essential part of your everyday life. Any product you own or touch has either been machined or has been made from a die or mold that has been machined. Machining is mostly computer controlled and is the modern replacement to manual machining. These machines cut material to make molds for the manufacturing industry. Those who train to become machinists are well paid and in high demand. 

Program Overview

Machine Tool Operation is a nine-month technical diploma program designed to provide in-depth study and hands-on skills in the machine processing of a variety of metals. 

You will become proficient in the set up and operation of manual mills, lathes, grinders, drills and saws as you complete increasingly complex projects while holding tight tolerances. Various pieces of precision measuring equipment are used to check quality. Additional work in blueprint reading, heat-treating and computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining is required to complete the Machine Tool Operation program. 

Program Outcomes

Machine Tool Operation graduates will be able to:

  • Apply basic safety practices in the machine shop
  • Interpret industrial/engineering drawings
  • Apply precision measuring methods to part inspection
  • Perform basic machine tool equipment set-up and operation
  • Perform programming, set up and operation of CNC machine tools


Northwood Tech's Machine Tool Operation graduates start out on the job making approximately $18 per hour. After training and time on the job, that wage increases rapidly.

A high power machine used in the program

High demand.

A student operating a machine

High pay.

The lab space

Highly skilled.


Machine Tool Operation is offered on the Ashland campus but similar programs are offered at all four of the Northwood Tech locations.

Career Pathways

Career Pathways connect progressive levels of coursework to allow students to build upon their education. Each step in the pathway connects with employment options and provides the opportunity for advancement to higher levels. The Machine Tool Operation program is a pathway option into the Machine Tool Technician technical diploma, which is offered at Superior.

Hands-on Learning

All laboratory projects are hands on. You will design the projects via the use of Solidworks to create the project using your own blueprint. 

Experienced Instructors

As a Machine Tool Operation student at Northwood Tech, you will have access to instructors with years of machining experience in a variety of industries.  

Required Courses

Program-specific courses include: Machine Tool Operation 1–4, Machine Tool Theory 1 & 2, CNC Fundamentals, and Print Reading for the Machine Trades.

Explore the Required Courses

Featured Machine Tool Operation Courses

| 4 CR
Machine Tool Operation 4 features advanced operations on milling machines, grinders, lathes, and drill presses. CNC programming and operation on vertical mills and turning centers will be emphasized. The capability and safe use of machine tools will be stressed. COREQUISITE: 32420327 Machine Tool Operation 3.
| 1 CR
This course will cover the basic principles of print reading. The emphasis is on interpreting standard lines and symbols in single- and multiple-view working drawings. Topics include print reading procedures, drawing changes, machining specifications, and the reading of prints in specialized areas including ANSI and ISO standards. Strongly recommend a basic understanding of mathematics concepts.
| 2 CR
This course introduces the student to the development and editing of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programs. The basic elements of CNC machine setup and operation are covered for the production of acceptable parts. Safety concerns are also addressed. Strongly recommend a basic understanding of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

Machine Tool Operation is Part of a Career Pathway

As a Machine Tool Operation student at Northwood Tech, you can earn credentials each step of the way! 

You could take this first and get a credential.

Technical Diploma
28 Credits / 1 Year Full Time
Potential Careers
Machine Operator, Machinist Apprentice, Machine Setup Operator
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Advance your skills with a two-year technical diploma.

Technical Diploma
56 Credits / 2 Years Full Time
Potential Careers
Machine Tool Operator, Apprentice Machinist, Machine Setup Person, Tool Room Machinist, CNC Machinist, Maintenance Machinist, CNC Programmer
Arrow pointing down

Continue your education to earn a bachelor's degree. 

Admissions and Tuition

Northwood Tech has an easy admission process that can be completed in one visit. Please see the details under the "Requirements and Application" section to get started.

Requirements and Application

Tuition and Fees

Northwood Tech breaks down the cost of education, so you'll have a good idea of how much your education will cost. 

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available to help you pay for your education. It can come in the form of grants, loans, federal work-study, military and veterans benefits, division of vocational rehabilitation benefits, and scholarships. 

Learn More About Paying for College

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimate of the costs that you may incur while attending Northwood Technical College.

Learn More About Cost of Attendance

Estimated Total Program Tuition 2024-25*

Machine Tool Operation

28 Credits | 1 Year


$1,625 for tools, supplies and uniforms

*Tuition is an estimate and does not include any miscellaneous fees for various courses, tools, books, supplies or uniforms. Program book costs are in addition to tuition and fees and vary depending on course selection and where the books are purchased or rented. 

After the Northwood Tech Machine Tool Operation Program

Upon completion of the program, you will earn a Machine Tool Operation technical diploma. Continue your education at Northwood Tech in the Machine Tool Technician technical diploma.

Student studying at a computer

Transfer Center

Transfer your Northwood Tech credits to a four-year college to earn your bachelor's degree and beyond. 

View Transfer Center


Career Outlooks

Northwood Tech's graduates experience success. Learn more about the types of careers you can get after graduation.

View Career Options

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Choose a campus to view contact information, or for general assistance, please contact us.

New Richmond Admissions Contact

Sherry Rehnelt

Admissions Advisor



Superior Admissions Contact

Anna Kalin

Admissions Advisor



Rice Lake Admissions Contact

Nicole Messicci

Admissions Advisor



Ashland Admissions Contact

Jennifer Bednarik

Admissions Advisor



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