Most numerical control tool programmers work in cities where factories and machine shops are concentrated. States with the highest concentration of these workers include California, Michigan, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois. These programmers work for many types and sizes of businesses. Among the largest employers are machine shops, metalworking machine manufacturers, and the aerospace industry. Approximately 24,300 numerical control tool programmers and operators are employed in the United States.
Tool programming generally is not considered an entry-level job; most employers prefer to hire skilled machinists or those with technical training. Students who want to enter the job directly from formal training at a college or technical school can find job assistance through their school's placement services. Prospective programmers also may learn of openings through state and private employment offices, newspaper ads, and the Internet.
Advancement opportunities are somewhat limited for tool programmers. Employees may advance to higher paying jobs by transferring to larger or more established manufacturing firms or shops. Experienced tool programmers who demonstrate good interpersonal skills and managerial ability can be promoted to supervisory positions.
Take shop and vocational courses to gain basic knowledge and skills in machine operation.
Tour a manufacturing site to learn the different steps and components necessary to make a product.
Join your school's computer club to learn more about hardware and software.
Talk with your career services office about setting up a job shadowing opportunity to learn firsthand about a numerical control tool programmer's work responsibilities.