The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is excited to offer a new CNC Programmer Apprenticeship this spring! This program combines on-the-job training (OJT) with evening classes one night a week. AJAC apprentices will take 1 class per quarter, 3 quarters per year, for 3 years (45 total credits). If you have not completed AJAC’s 4-year machinist apprenticeship program, this is a 3-year, 6,000 hour program. This program is accredited through a local community or technical college giving you the opportunity to earn college credits.
Become A Journey-Level Programmer
Students in the AJAC CNC Programmer Apprenticeship will learn to use CAD and CAM fundamentals to design for manufacturability (develop tooling). Students will gain a thorough understanding of the underlying manufacturing processes that are essential to developing a part program; they will know how to build a part and will understand the role of the CNC Programmer in a team and an organization. In Year 3, students will learn 2-axis, 3-axis, and 4-axis CAM tool paths for mill and lathe as well as advanced CNC Programming techniques.
This program is designed as a training for journey level Machinists with two entry points. It has been structured as a 4,000 hour program for journey-level machinist graduates or those with a college certificate/degree.
For individuals with at least 5 years of proven machining experience, this is a 6,000 hour program to accommodate experienced Machinists achieving their journey level status through work experience but lacking formal academic preparation.
Based on subject matter experts and employer recommendations, the following is the candidate eligibility criteria:
- Industry Trained | 5+ Years of Proven Machining Experience. Eligible for participation includes requirement to take all 9 classes and complete 6,000 hours of OJT.
- College Certificate or Degree + Industry Trained | 5 Years of Experience/Certificate or Degree. Credit for up to 3 classes of the first year’s coursework and 2,000 OJT Hours.
- Apprenticeship Completion: Journey-Level Machinist. Automatically awarded first year course work (3 classes) and 2,000 OJT Hours.
CNC Programmer Entry Points
The following table is a breakdown of required (X) RSI Classes for each eligible participant category. View a PDF version of this table here.
Related Supplemental Instruction
CNC Programmer apprentices will take up to 9 college-level classes (450) hours designed by AJAC’s subject matter experts. Class is held one night a week for 4 hours during the fall, winter, and spring (summers off). Classes will vary between in-person and online learning. Each class is worth 5 college credits totaling up to 45 credits upon completion.
CNC Programmer Classes
This apprenticeship provides students the opportunity to learn critical programming skills covering the following subject areas:
- Technical Drawings, GD&T, and Precision Fits
- Shop Algebra, Applied Geometry and Trigonometry
- CAD Fundamentals & Design for Manufacturability
- Manufacturing Process Related to Project Management
- Basic Tool Path for Mill & Lathe
- Multi Axis/Indexing
- Advanced CNC Programming Techniques
On-the-Job Training Competencies Learned
The graphic above is a guide of tasks and hours for the on-the-job training portion of the program. The 6,000 hours will be completed over the course of the apprenticeship.
We understand this may not be a full-time role for apprentices, as they will be splitting their time between shop and programming. Apprentices have flexibility over the course of the program to complete the guide of tasks and hours. The apprentice shall be instructed and trained in all operations and methods customarily used on the various machines.
Cost & College Tuition
In Washington State, when you engage in apprenticeship, college tuition is reduced by 50%. In most cases that means classes cost around $275 per quarter, 9 classes total. Roughly $2,475 out-of-pocket cost per apprentice for the entirety of the program.
For AJAC machinist graduates, the cost will be around $1,650.
To reserve your spot in AJAC’s first CNC Programmer Apprenticeship, please complete our online application. After you have submitted your information, an AJAC representative will contact you for next steps.
Kailey Harding’s interest in manufacturing first peaked when she saw students making carbon fiber skateboards at the Pierce County Skills Center. As an avid longboarder, she was immediately drawn to the hands-on learning.
After two years of learning composites, fabrication, and machining through the skills center, Kailey landed a job as a machinist and immediately enrolled in AJAC’s four-year machinist apprenticeship program. Through her time in the apprenticeship, Kailey grew her foundational machining skills through one-on-one mentorship and industry-aligned curriculum delivered by AJAC’s instructors.
Her current role at Spearman Corporation in Kent, Washington is to create high tolerance parts for commercial and military airplanes. Over the last three years, Kailey has proudly machined parts for the Boeing 737, 777, and 767 respectively.
For Kailey, the industry as a whole can do a better job of marketing manufacturing to women, “Its really not influenced. You don’t see advertising to say ‘Hey, females, work here!’. It is a big growth process to get to where I am today. Overall, it is a morale boost going to AJAC. You’re learning different things throughout the four years and every time you learn something new, you can take it back to work and apply it.”
Kailey’s advice to encourage more women to pursue manufacturing, “No matter where you work, you have to have the passion for it. If it is in you, and you are feeling a little nervous, step on in it. I would definitely get into AJAC’s because they are going to guide you and support you. Go for it; be confident in your words, and who you are.”
Kailey is in the third year of her machinist apprenticeship and expects to graduate in 2021.
To learn more about AJAC’s Machinist Apprenticeship program, please visit: https://www.ajactraining.org/apprenticeship/occupations/machinist/.
To launch your career in advanced manufacturing, please visit AJAC’s Getting Started page: https://www.ajactraining.org/apprenticeship/getting-started/
Aurelia Greene has completed all of the college-level classwork for her Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee Machinist Apprenticeship Program, and now she’s building up hours with paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeships in Washington’s advanced manufacturing industry create a wealth of opportunities Aurelia Greene says she started at the bottom of the barrel, but she didn’t stay there long.
To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2020, AJAC sat down with former machinist graduate, Evan Thomas, for a candid interview about his apprenticeship experience. Our 24-minute conversation covered a wide variety of topics including his start in manufacturing, why he chose the apprenticeship pathway, and how he is paying forward the knowledge he received from industry mentors.
Evan graduated AJAC’s machinist program in 2017 and is currently a Career and Technical Education Teacher at the Pierce County Skills Center. In Evan’s new role, he teaches high school juniors and seniors precision machining and fabrication.
About National Apprenticeship Week:
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a nationwide celebration that brings together business leaders, career seekers, labor, educational institutions, and other critical partners to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship. NAW also provides apprenticeship sponsors with the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices in their community. The week-long celebration highlights the benefits of apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.
Mallory Martindale’s apprenticeship with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee is almost complete. She’s been working in manufacturing since she graduated high school, and the apprenticeship gives her a strong foundation for a long career. Help your career take off with paid on-the-job training and college-level instruction!