How to Become a CNC Machinist in Montana

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How to Become a CNC Machinist in Montana

Maybe you want to become a CNC machinist in Montana but don’t know what this job is all about.

In that case, you can read the article below for some detailed info on the steps you need to take.

You will get to learn more about the education requirements, schools, and certifications you need.

CNC Machinist Job Description

Let me reveal what CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control.

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A CNC machinist controls computer-guided machines, precisely cutting metals or plastics.

These machines are lathes, mills, and grinders.

To achieve success, the machinist must:

  • Set up machines
  • Craft and refine programs
  • Fine-tune adjustments
  • Decipher blueprints and designs
  • Ensure products meet specifications

CNC Machinist Job Requirements

But what do you need to become a skilled CNC machinist?

It starts with:

  • Finishing high school
  • Maintaining a GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Getting a degree or certification in the field
  • Gaining practical experience
  • Developing essential skills

Want to know more?

Check out our FAQ section below for details on these necessary skills.

Becoming a CNC Machinist in Montana

There are a few steps you must follow when considering a career as a CNC Machinist.

First step – Education

This step means completing high school.

Getting a GED is also acceptable.

But it doesn’t end there.

You must attend a post-secondary school.

You’ll require at least a certification or degree in the field.

I’ll provide a list of institutions for you to explore.

Step 2 – Experience

This step is very significant, even more than the education requirements.

Experience often needs certification or a degree.

Programs providing these may link you to apprenticeships. In an apprenticeship, you’ll learn from a pro.

Remember, apprenticeships often pay.

Step 3 – Earn The NIMS Certification

This certification is from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills.

The good news is that it never expires, according to the NIMS FAQ page.

Plus, the official site mentions that the online exam is free and can be taken multiple times.

Having this credential could lead to higher earnings.

Step 4 – Apply for a Job

Once your apprenticeship ends, it’s time to seek your inaugural job.

You might have to scout for opportunities in your city independently.

Alternatively, your school could assist you in securing a job, especially if they facilitated your apprenticeship.

CNC Machinist Training in Montana

Becoming a CNC machinist requires specific skills and knowledge.

Training is crucial to attain them.

Now, let’s see where you can find the appropriate training.

Montana State University

The school offers a CNC Machine Technology Certificate of Applied Science (CAS) program, comprising 36 credits.

Completing this program takes 2 semesters.

This course will teach you the skills needed to master computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

From lathes to mills, and precision measuring tools, students learn machining functions such as cutting, drilling, shaping, and finishing product components.

The topics include:

  • CNC terminology
  • Setup
  • Programming
  • Troubleshooting
  • Mechanical drawing interpretation
  • Lathe and mill operations
  • Technical Mathematics
  • Computer literacy
  • CAD/CAM systems
  • Shop safety protocols
  • Equipment capabilities
  • Regulatory compliance.

Highlands College of Montana Tech

This school offers two options for Career Readiness in Precision Machining Technology.

Machining Technology Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) is one of them.

This program provides broad training for all levels of employment in the precision manufacturing industry.

The Machining Technology Certificate Program (C.A.S.) is the other program.

This program prepares you for entry-level positions in just two semesters, enabling quick entry into the workforce.

You may be wondering how are these programs different.

The AAS program is a full two-year program that offers comprehensive training, including:

  • Operating machine tools and CNC machines,
  • Reading engineering drawings
  • Using precision measuring instruments

The CAS program is completed after 33 credits in one year.

This program focuses on essential machining skills for quick workforce entry.

Graduates of the A.A.S. Program find employment in various roles such as general machinists, CNC machinists, tool and die makers, and quality control technicians.

Students opting for the C.A.S. Program gain essential machining knowledge, preparing them for entry-level positions in the precision manufacturing industry.

School Name Address
Montana State University Culbertson Hall, 100, Bozeman, MT 59717,
Highlands College of Montana Tech 25 Basin Creek Rd, Butte, MT 59701,
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CNC Machinist Salary in Montana

Once your training wraps up, it’s important to research CNC machinist salaries.

Your earnings will depend on factors like location, education, and experience.

In Montana, CNC machinists earn a median yearly wage of $46,320.

Keep in mind, your salary may fluctuate based on different variables.

Below, you’ll find areas with higher median salaries for this occupation.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Stryker $49,470
Whitefish $49,470
Rexford $49,470
Antelope $48,700
Culbertson $48,700
Acton $48,390
Circle $47,980
Angela $47,980
Cooke City $47,980
Alberton $47,270

Regional Salary in Montana

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Billings, MT90$57,920$27.85$102,650$41,890
Missoula, MT40$52,930$25.45$71,910$39,520
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Machinists, OCC Code 51-4041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a possibility of getting a higher paying position in this field in Montana?


The CNC machinist profession features different skill levels, each offering higher compensation than the previous tier, even at the minimum wage level.

Data from sources like supports this upward trajectory in pay scale across various proficiency levels within the field.

Which area of study should I focus on to become a CNC machinist in Montana?

Mathematics holds a pivotal role in the technical domain.

Proficiency in fundamental mathematical operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—is indispensable.

Moreover, understanding fractions, percentages, and decimals is crucial for CNC machinists, as these concepts are commonly applied in their work.

What are the most important skills for a CNC machinist working in Montana?

Here are some key skills required in the CNC machining field:

  • CNC programming and machining skills
  • Understanding geometric dimensioning and tolerances
  • Proficiency in modeling and simulation
  • Knowledge of additive manufacturing techniques
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong work ethic
  • Technical writing and comprehension abilities
  • Ability to interpret and follow written technical instructions
  • Familiarity with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software

USA CNC Machinist by State

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