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Details for Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmers


Develop programs to control machining or processing of parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems.


  • Align and secure pattern film on reference tables of optical programmers, and observe enlarger scope views of printed circuit boards.
  • Analyze job orders, drawings, blueprints, specifications, printed circuit board pattern films, and design data in order to calculate dimensions, tool selection, machine speeds, and feed rates.
  • Compare encoded tapes or computer printouts with original part specifications and blueprints to verify accuracy of instructions.
  • Determine reference points, machine cutting paths, or hole locations, and compute angular and linear dimensions, radii, and curvatures.
  • Determine the sequence of machine operations, and select the proper cutting tools needed to machine workpieces into the desired shapes.
  • Draw machine tool paths on pattern film, using colored markers and following guidelines for tool speed and efficiency.
  • Enter computer commands to store or retrieve parts patterns, graphic displays, or programs that transfer data to other media.
  • Enter coordinates of hole locations into program memories by depressing pedals or buttons of programmers.
  • Observe machines on trial runs or conduct computer simulations to ensure that programs and machinery will function properly and produce items that meet specifications.
  • Prepare geometric layouts from graphic displays, using computer-assisted drafting software or drafting instruments and graph paper.
  • Revise programs and/or tapes to eliminate errors, and retest programs to check that problems have been solved.
  • Sort shop orders into groups to maximize materials utilization and minimize machine setup time.
  • Write instruction sheets and cutter lists for a machine's controller in order to guide setup and encode numerical control tapes.
  • Write programs in the language of a machine's controller and store programs on media such as punch tapes, magnetic tapes, or disks.
  • Modify existing programs to enhance efficiency.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Programming - Writing computer programs for various purposes.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

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