Being a CNC operator takes a lot more than just being able to handle long hours of staring at the monitor or creating an input stack for the programs. What it means is that you have to have outstanding programming capabilities and at least basic machining knowledge.
A CNC operator has to be knowledgeable about blueprint reading. This is because, basic design concepts and construction is hinged heavily on blueprints. Furthermore, the components that are being manufactured by companies that have CNC machines are based on blueprints of a whole structure. Therefore, if you do not know how to read blueprints, you won't know what to program the machine to do.
Another thing that a CNC operator has to have is familiarization with machine operations. If the operator does not know which machine tools are for which job, or how fast the machine can work, or what the rate of feed is for the machine, or even the depth of the cut needed for the operation, then you wouldn't be productive and the operation would be a failure.
The most obvious thing that an operator would have to know would be the general operating characteristics of the machine. He/she would have to know what the machine runs ontape, network data input, or floppy. Furthermore, proper data input procedures have to be observed to lower the error ratio. A faulty data input procedure could cause the entire cycle to collapse therefore lowering the level of efficiency.
Working with CNC machines means that you will also be dealing with a lot of computer work. This means that you have to be familiar with basic computer operations. In addition to that, you will have to know how to interpret data in the program output stack.
The company's requirements and the benefits.
some companies require a lot more than what is written above. Oftentimes, they require applicants to be familiar with the system that they use. Other times, they want the applicants to have no less than five years of experience working in a factory or at least working with a CNC machine. Also, some companies require applicants to undertake a specific training program to ensure the employers that the material they are getting is worth the money they will be shelling out.
However, the benefits that can be reaped is quite solid. Salaries and insurances are often negotiable. Working hours are also a snap! All you would have to do is initiate the cycle and then sit back and occasionally check for glitches. Furthermore, these companies often takes care of their operators as there is always a shortage of skilled enough people to take hold of the position.
So, what does it take to be a CNC operator? To synthesize the requirements, you have to be amazingly determined to pass the requirements of the company you are applying for. And then, you have to be able to quickly restructure the program in case of any glitch that the computer might encounter during the process.
The benefits are solid, but passing the requirements is like surviving the gauntlet. Think about this career.