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Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
SOC Code: 51-4035.00

Set up, operate, or tend milling or planing machines to mill, plane, shape, groove, or profile metal or plastic work pieces.

Sample of reported job titles: CNC Machine Operator (Computerized Numerical Control Machine Operator), CNC Mill Operator (Computerized Numerical Control Mill Operator), CNC Mill Set Up Operator (Computerized Numerical Control Mill Set Up Operator), CNC Operator (Computerized Numerical Control Operator), CNC Programmer (Computerized Numerical Control Programmer), Machine Operator, Mill Operator, Miller, Milling Operator, Set Up Person


  • Position and secure workpieces on machines, using holding devices, measuring instruments, hand tools, and hoists.
  • Remove workpieces from machines, and check to ensure that they conform to specifications, using measuring instruments such as microscopes, gauges, calipers, and micrometers.
  • Verify alignment of workpieces on machines, using measuring instruments, such as rules, gauges, or calipers.
  • Move cutters or material manually or by turning handwheels, or engage automatic feeding mechanisms to mill workpieces to specifications.
  • Observe milling or planing machine operation and adjust controls to ensure conformance with specified tolerances.
  • Select cutting speeds, feed rates, and depths of cuts, applying knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics.
  • Study blueprints, layouts, sketches, or work orders to assess workpiece specifications and to determine tooling instructions, tools and materials needed, and sequences of operations.
  • Compute dimensions, tolerances, and angles of workpieces or machines, according to specifications and knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics.
  • Move controls to set cutting specifications, to position cutting tools and workpieces in relation to each other, and to start machines.
  • Replace worn tools, using hand tools, and sharpen dull tools, using bench grinders.
  • Select and install cutting tools and other accessories according to specifications, using hand tools or power tools.
  • Turn valves or pull levers to start and regulate the flow of coolant or lubricant to work areas.
  • Record production output.
  • Mount attachments and tools, such as pantographs, engravers, or routers to perform other operations, such as drilling or boring.
  • Make templates or cutting tools.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Kentech Kipware TB
  • Computer aided design CAD and computer aided manufacturing CAM system - Edgecam
  • Computer aided design CAD software - Autodesk AutoCAD ; Siemens PLM Software Solid Edge; SmartCAMcnc SmartCAM; Vero Software Alphacam
  • Computer aided manufacturing CAM software - Mastercam
  • Enterprise application integration software - Extensible markup language XML
  • Industrial control software - EditCNC
  • Object or component oriented development software - G code; M code
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel

Tools Used

  • Adjustable wrenches - Crescent wrenches
  • Allen wrench - Allen wrench sets
  • Bench grinder - Industrial bench grinders
  • Bench scales - Digital bench scales
  • Calipers - Dial calipers; Digital calipers; Vernier calipers
  • Chucks - Soft jaws
  • Collets - Collet chucks
  • Comparators - Mechanical comparators
  • Compasses - Layout compasses
  • Coordinate measuring machines CMM
  • Deburring tool - Machine deburring tools
  • Desktop computers
  • Dial indicator or dial gauge - Coaxial indicators; Drop indicators
  • Drill press or radial drill - Drill presses
  • End mills
  • Forklifts - Wheeled forklifts
  • Grease guns - Grease dispensers
  • Grinders - Hand grinders
  • Hand lapper - Lapping tools
  • Height gauges - Digital height gauges
  • Hoists - Power hoists
  • Hole gauge - Bore gauges
  • Horizontal boring machine - Boring bars; Horizontal boring mills
  • Metal polishing machine - Polishing tools
  • Micrometers - Inside digital ID micrometers; Outside digital OD micrometers
  • Milling vise - Precision milling vises
  • Pin gauge - Pin gauge sets
  • Planer style milling machine - Metal planers
  • Radius gauge - Fillet gauges
  • Rulers - Precision rules
  • Safety glasses - Protective safety glasses
  • Sawing and cut-off machine - Metal cutters
  • Screwdrivers - Multipurpose screwdrivers
  • Setting jig - Setting jigs
  • Spanner wrenches - Adjustable spanner wrenches
  • Tinners snips - Metal shears
  • Tool holders - Automatic tool changers
  • Tool template sets - Center finders; Electronic edge finders; Mechanical edge finders; Tool probes (see all 5 examples)
  • Track cranes - Overhead cranes
  • Turret lathe - Turret lathes
  • Turret milling machine - Vertical milling machines
  • Unit cooler - Coolant chillers
  • Universal milling machine - Computer numerical control CNC milling machines; Horizontal milling machines
  • Vertical machining center - Vertical machining centers VMC
  • Wire brushes - Wire cleaning brushes


  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.


  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.


  • Interest code: RC
    • 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.
    • 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.

Work Context

  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 83% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 78% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 68% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 61% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 16% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Time Pressure - 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment - 38% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 23% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment - 61% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 69% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 47% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 70% responded “40 hours.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 39% responded “Very important.”
  • Contact With Others - 34% responded “Occasional contact with others.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 37% responded “Limited responsibility.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 43% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings - 29% responded “Never.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 25% responded “Very important results.”
  • Degree of Automation - 35% responded “Highly automated.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 35% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 27% responded “Limited freedom.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 37% responded “Fairly important.”
  • Physical Proximity - 53% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 26% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Level of Competition - 41% responded “Moderately competitive.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
50%High school diploma or equivalent
26%Some college, no degree
16%Less than high school diploma

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $20.51 hourly, $42,650 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 18,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Decline (-2% or lower)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 1,300

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