Machine Tool Operation-CNC

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Machine Tool Operation - CNC

Technical Diploma

32 Credits | 1 Year

Financial Aid-Eligible

Rice Lake

Career Cluster: Manufacturing

Machining is the foundation of all manufacturing. If you have never heard of machine tool or machining it is an essential part of your life. Any product you own, use or even or touch has either been machined or has been made from a die or mold that has been machined. Machining is mostly done with computer controlled equipment and is the modern replacement to manually operated machine tools used thru the 1950s and '60s. CNC machines cut material, everything from metal to plastic, to make parts, molds, for the manufacturing industry. People who become machinists are well paid and in high demand.    

Program Overview

Machine Tool Operation - CNC program is a 9-month technical diploma program designed to provide in-depth study and hands-on skills for the machine tool industry.  

Students become proficient in the set up and operation of mills and lathes, as well as manual mills, lathes, drills, and saws. Students write set sheets, build fixtures, program parts, set-up, and machine parts using the students' own processes and CNC programs. They also perform inspection to ensure quality and precision.   

Program Outcomes

Machine Tool Operation - CNC 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
A student working intently with a machine part

As a machinist, you will learn a highly skilled trade that requires precision and attention to detail. You will interpret engineering drawings, apply precision measuring methods for inspection, perform CNC programming with software.  

A student operating a CNC machine

Northwood Tech students are in high demand.

A student watching as their piece is made

Graduates get high starting salaries.

Close up of a machine in action

Learn by doing. 


Machine Tool Operation - CNC is offered on the Rice Lake campus, but similar programs are offered at all four of the Northwood Tech locations.

Career Pathways

The Machine Tool Operation - CNC program offers one embedded technical diploma in CNC Technician which is 15 of the 32 credits needed for the full diploma.

Experienced Instructors

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

Current Technology

Being able to program CNC equipment as well as learning programs such as Master Cam will make you an attractive employment candidate for area employers. 


Program specific subjects covered include, Machining Fundamentals and Drilling Processes, Machining – Milling Processes, Machining – Surface Grinding  Processes, CNC Turning – Basic and Advanced Operation and Programming, Print Reading for Machine Trades, Intro to CAD/CAM, CAD/CAM Application, CNC Milling – Basic & Advanced Operation and Programming.  

Explore the Curriculum

Featured Machine Tool Operation - CNC Courses

| 3 CR
This course includes instruction of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) lathes and mills including calling up programs in the machine control unit, loading and deleting programs; setting work offsets; loading and unloading parts; loading tooling and tool offsets; running programs to make parts; and part inspection. By the end of the course, learners will set up work pieces in machines, enter programs, set up tool offsets, enter work offsets, and complete parts and projects.
| 5 CR
This course includes the operation of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) mills and lathes by providing instruction and practice in the use of milling and turning machines. This course will also provide an introduction to job planning for CNC lathes and mills using standard G and M codes, including the use of process plans, inspection sheets, and set up guides will also be covered. This course will also provide the opportunity for learners to write their own job planning and editing of provided programs. By the end of this course, learners will edit programs, change speeds and feeds as needed, and adjust tool and work offsets to produce parts within specified tolerances. COREQUISITE: 31444310 Milling and Turning 1
| 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.

Machine Tool Operation - CNC is Part of a Career Pathway

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

Download Career Pathway map

This technical diploma is embedded in the Machine Tool Operation - CNC.

CNC Technician

Technical Diploma
15 Credits / 1 Year Part Time
Potential Careers
CNC Machine Operator, CNC Set-up Operator, CNC Operator, Machinist
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This is the program you’re looking at.

Technical Diploma
32 Credits / 1 Year
Potential Careers
Machine Tool Operator, Apprentice Machinist, CNC Machinist, CNC Programmer, Maintenance Machinist
Range of Yearly Salary
$34,317 - $65,515 annually
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Continue your education to obtain your bachelor's degree.

Admissions and Tuition

Northwood Tech has a simple admission process that can be completed in one visit. To start the process, simply fill out an application form along with a $30 application fee. After you’ve successfully submitted your application, your next step is to schedule an admissions meeting with a Northwood Tech counselor to discuss your goals and expectations. That’s it!

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

Estimated Total Program Costs 2021-22*

Machine Tool Operation - CNC

35 Credits | 1 Year


$2,150 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 - CNC Program

Upon completion of the program, you will obtain technical diplomas in CNC Technician and Machine Tool Operation - CNC. 

Student studying at a computer

Transfer Options

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

View Transfer Options

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.

Rice Lake Admissions Contact

Tia Dietz

Admissions Advisor

800.243.9482 ext. 5220


Ashland Admissions Contact

Jennifer Bednarik

Admissions Advisor

800.243.9482 ext. 3195


New Richmond Admissions Contact

Jodi Saliny

Admissions Advisor

800.243.9482 ext. 4339


Superior Admissions Contact

Mary Glad

Admissions Advisor

800.243.9482 ext. 6243


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Are you ready to experience success? Northwood Tech staff are standing by to support you in reaching your educational and career goals, so do it. Take the leap.