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Basic Metal and Plastic Machine Operator

Career Studies Certificate

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Put your stamp on a career as a metal and plastic machine operator

Learn entry-level CNC skills at TCC

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Learn how to operate the computer-controlled machines that fabricate precision parts needed in a variety of industries, from automotive to orthopedics. Tidewater Community College’s Career Studies Certificate in Basic Metal and Plastic Machine Operator puts you on the road to a career in advanced manufacturing.

Basic metal and plastic machine operators adjust machines to control speed, material feed and path of the cut, as well as make sure the machines are set up properly, working well and producing quality products.

Courses will cover:

  • machine blueprint reading
  • machine shop safety
  • theory and practice in lathe and milling machines 
  • CNC (computer numerical control) program writing
  • setup and operation
  • use of standards, such as the Machinery’s Handbook


Certify your skills

Earn valuable industry credentials! Course work qualifies students to sit for one or more exams administered by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

View program curriculum
What does this program cost?

TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Basic Metal and Plastic Machine Operator consists of 1 semester of part-time study, with classes held mainly on the Chesapeake Campus.

Estimated Program Cost*:
16 credits x $181.10 per credit = $2,897.60 (not including textbooks and supplies)
*Based on Fall 2017 in-state tuition. Your actual cost may differ.

Where can you go?

Continue your education by pursuing the Career Studies Certificate in Computer Numerical Controls Operator or applying your credits toward TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics.

This certificate prepares you to operate computer numerical controlled machines in shipyards, factories and advanced manufacturing settings.

Upon completion of the certificate, you will have the knowledge you need to obtain the National Institute for Metalworking Skills industry certification.

Is this program for you?

Yes if you:

  • enjoy working with your hands
  • want to know how machines work
  • want to produce the goods and services that power today’s economy
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Tuition assistance such as financial aid, scholarships, work-study, grants and loans can help you save money and reduce college debt.

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Get hands-on training in the new Precision Machining Lab, which houses “smart” machines like those used in industry

Just 16 credits! Complete this certificate in just 1 semester

Connect one-on-one with professors who are industry pros and are invested in your success.


Meet Thomas Stout, dean of science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the Chesapeake Campus


"It's not the same kind of processes that were used 50 years ago in manufacturing"

Median annual salary

Jobs related to this field pay a median annual salary of $39,354*

* Salary estimate is provided for comparison purposes only and doesn’t constitute a promise of employment or earnings. Salaries were calculated based on related job codes and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.