CNC Machinist Courses

Train for a Career as a CNC Machine Operator

Grand Canyon University (GCU), Benchmark Electronics, Inc. and Lux Precision Manufacturing have joined forces to create a unique opportunity that allows students to work and learn about Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, also called CNC precision manufacturing, while enjoying the benefits of a traditional college experience. CNC machining courses provide comprehensive training for individuals interested in becoming skilled machinists.

The CNC machining training courses at GCU are a great option if you are looking to start your professional journey or seeking a new career path. You will be taught how to set up CNC mills and CNC lathes, and some of these principles may transfer to setting up other CNC machines.

As part of these courses, you have two opportunities to potentially get paid.

  1. Incoming students have the opportunity to gain hands-on industry experience as a machinist by working at Lux Precision Manufacturing during the program.1 Lux is a machine shop creating parts for the industry. This will coincide with a curriculum that focuses on the fundamental principles of CNC precision manufacturing.
  2. After completion, you have the opportunity to be interviewed by both Lux and Benchmark for a full-time position.1

Explore these CNC and precision manufacturing topics:

Training | Critical Skills | Career Paths | Curriculum | FAQs

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What is a CNC Machinist?

CNC is a manufacturing process that uses pre-programmed computer software to control the movement of machinery for complex cutting tasks. This process provides precise and repeatable manufacturing of intricate and detailed parts. A CNC machinist is a skilled professional who:

  • Operates and maintains CNC machinery
  • Interprets blueprints and technical plans
  • Sets up tooling and work holding devices
  • Ensures the production of high-precision parts in a manufacturing setting
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Defense
  • Electronics
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical
  • Semiconductor

Anyone enrolled in GCU may take these on-campus courses, but they are primarily available to help:

  • High school graduates
  • Those looking to enter into a new career path (and likely have years of work experience)
  • Those entering the workforce

With a dedicated focus on mechanics, mathematics, metal properties and essential machining procedures in CNC precision manufacturing, you have the opportunity to cultivate the essential skills required in this field.

Caucasian male with blonde hair and a black shirt in CNC machinist lab

One Semester

This CNC machining pathway is 15-weeks (one semester) to completion.

CNC Machining Training From GCU

GCU and other industry connections are offering students who are accepted into the CNC machining courses fully-funded tuition. This applies to Arizona residents who are U.S. citizens during the Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 semesters. The connection GCU has with Benchmark provides a potential pathway for you to apply your newly acquired skills in a professional setting.

Benchmark Electronics, Inc. and Lux Precision Manufacturing may offer employment opportunities to select students who complete the four CNC machining courses within 15 weeks. Alongside GCU, Lux is invested in your future by offering a chance to work inside their manufacturing facilities to help you gain valuable hands-on manufacturing experience.

If you decide to pursue the training for CNC machinists at GCU, you will need to:

  1. Apply to GCU
  2. Participate in an interview and be accepted to take CNC machining classes
  3. Work a minimum of 10 hours per week at Lux Manufacturing
  4. Finish the four CNC machining courses within 15 weeks of starting your first course
  5. Interview with industry connections to potentially begin a career as a machinist

$0 tuition for Arizona residents who are U.S. citizens during the Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 semesters2

Critical Skills and Coursework Taught in the CNC Machinist Courses

CNC machining classes offer a comprehensive immersion in the understanding and application of CNC technology. You will focus on machine operation, programming, setup, blueprint reading and quality control techniques — all of which are crucial for manufacturing precise components. You will have the opportunity to learn basic machine operation and achieve precision and accuracy as a machinist.

These courses aim to enhance your understanding of the subtractive manufacturing industry and how to create precision machined parts for industry. This module can provide you with a deeper insight into machine operation, quality control and the process of creating a part from raw stock to a finished product.

Courses Timeline and Overview

The training for CNC machinist courses begins with an introduction to CNC machining, where you will work toward establishing a strong foundation in the principles and practices of CNC machining. The courses will cover crucial aspects such as machine setup and operation, enabling you to operate CNC machinery with confidence and precision.

Some coursework and topics you may study in the CNC machinist courses include the following:

  • Broad overview of the industrial CNC machinist role (e.g. manufacturing operations, machining, quality control, goal setting and personal financial management)
  • Professional verbal communication skills (articulating ideas, clear enunciation, addressing multiple audiences and approaching difficult subjects)
  • Application of math scenarios (including basic math concepts and operations)
  • Basic machining principles
  • Adjusting work and tool offsets
  • Basic inspection methods, blueprint reading and G and M codes
  • Introduction to geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T)

CNC Machinist Courses Location

The CNC machining courses located on the GCU campus will teach curriculum that emphasize the fundamentals for precise machining operations. The courses will educate future CNC machinists on the essential skills necessary to program and operate CNC equipment. This proficiency can help you optimize machining processes and maximize productivity.


College courses to completion

Students in class with laptops open face the instructor

Career Paths for Students Who Complete the CNC Machining Courses

Upon completion of these courses, you will have been taught the knowledge and skills to help you position yourself for a range of career opportunities. Potential career paths may include:

  • CNC machinist: Set up and operate CNC machines, interpret technical blueprints and conducting quality inspections to ensure accurate production of intricate parts.
  • Shop floor supervisor/manager
  • Quality control inspector
  • Maintenance technician
  • CNC machine operator: Run CNC machines, oversee the machine’s performance, make necessary adjustments and conduct basic maintenance to ensure efficient and accurate production processes.
  • Machine setup technician
  • Material handler
  • Production planner/scheduler

These CNC machining courses can prepare you to position yourself to begin a career in the following industries:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Defense
  • Semiconductor
  • Manufacturing

Benchmark Electronics, Inc. and Lux Precision Manufacturing may offer employment opportunities to select students who complete the four CNC machining courses within 15 weeks. Alongside GCU, Lux is invested in your future by offering a chance to work inside their manufacturing facilities to help you gain valuable hands-on manufacturing experience.

Two men in CNC machinist lab

About the CNC and Precision Manufacturing Curriculum

This CNC machining curriculum is built with subject matter experts and industry leaders to ensure the curriculum meets the industry standards and covers the essential skills, practical experiences and knowledge that reflects what individuals and teams will face on the job. You can have confidence in the quality and relevance of the CNC precision manufacturing courses from GCU.

CNC Machining Courses FAQs

To help you make an informed decision about pursuing CNC machining courses, we’ve provided a few frequently asked questions below.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), machinists had a median annual wage of $48,510 in May 2022.3 Keep in mind, machinists who primarily program or operate CNC equipment are also classified with the BLS as Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Operators and Programmers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most mechanists need a high school diploma or equivalent and some will need postsecondary courses.4 Experience in math, blueprint reading,  metalworking and CAD/CAM are considered useful for those who want to pursue CNC machine operator training courses and careers;4 however, these concepts are also part of the education you will be taught.4

It takes 15 weeks to complete the four CNC machining courses. Classes are held on campus Tuesday through Friday, from 3 – 7 pm. Each class is worth four credits — resulting in a total of 16 credits for completion.

Learning how to be a CNC machine operator may be challenging, as with any new skill. It requires a solid understanding of the concepts taught within these courses, including machine operations, programming concepts and precision measurement techniques. Ongoing learning, staying current with technological advancements and gaining practical experience are crucial to mastering the craft of CNC machine operation.


Median annual wage for machinists in May 20223

Are you interested in training for a CNC machinist career? Join us and unlock your potential in this field.

1 Limited spots available.

2 Fully-funded tuition applies to Arizona residents and U.S. citizens only for the first two semesters in the Fall of 2024 and Spring 2025. Must be accepted into the CNC machinist courses and complete all courses within 15 weeks of start date. Limited number available.

3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Machinists as of May 2022, retrieved on June 21, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as machinists. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, Sept. 8). Machinists and Tool and Die Makers. Retrieved on June 22, 2023.