Vaccine Clinic Appointments: People without internet access may call 360.778.6075.


Machining - Certificate - Principles of Machining and CNC Operation

If you’d like a high-paying career upon graduating from BTC, then you should consider Precision Machining. You’ll be prepared to work right away as a machinist; with experience you can advance to positions such as journey level machinist, tool programmer, CNC operator/programmer or engineer.

You’ll learn how to use machine tools such as lathes, drill presses, and milling machines, plus blueprint reading, basic CNC programming and machine processes. Employers who hire graduates from the Precision Machining program include aircraft, boat, and automobile manufacturers, industrial machinery firms, and machine shops.

To learn more about Bellingham Technical College programs you’re interested in, join us for a Virtual Program Info Session. Prior sign up is required. If you do not see an Info Session for the program you’re interested in, email for more information.

Employment Information

82% BTC graduate placement rate

$42,328 starting annual wage
$59,155 average annual wage
$90,542 potential annual wage
  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    BTC graduate employment rates:
    The graduate employment rate reflects placement rates of students who graduated from BTC in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Data Linking for Outcomes Assessment database pulls from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data across Washington and Oregon. UI data do not reflect BTC graduates who (a) are employed in states beyond those listed above or outside of the United States, (b) are self-employed, (c) are active duty members of the armed forces, (d) continued on to another educational institution, and/or (e) did not provide a social security number while enrolled at BTC.

    Washington State Employment Security Department 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates ( reflect 2014-2017 employment

    Starting annual wage = 25th percentile
    Average annual wage = 50th percentile
    Potential annual wage = 75th percentile

Estimated Program Costs


When Can I Start?

This is not a stand-alone certificate, students must meet all program level entry requirements.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 55

  • Quarter 1

  • MACH 101Machine Shop Fundamentals I3 CR
  • MACH 141Introduction to Manual Lathe5 CR
  • MACH 151Introduction to Manual Mill5 CR
  • AMATH 100Applied Occupational Math5 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • MACH 102Machine Shop Fundamentals II3 CR
  • MACH 142Advanced Manual Lathe5 CR
  • MACH 152Advanced Manual Mill5 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • MACH 103Machine Shop Fundamentals III3 CR
  • MACH 171Introduction to CNC Machining6 CR
  • ENGR 180Parametric Modeling5 CR
  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR

Program Outcomes

  • Demonstrate competency in their ability to operate machine shop equipment: lathes, mills, grinders, and drills
  • Demonstrate competency in their ability to read and interpret blueprints per industry standards
  • Successfully demonstrate their ability to process and plan a piece part through the lab until completion
  • Demonstrate competency in CNC machine tool operation and programming
  • Demonstrate competency in CAM design and manufacturing

Employment Outlook

Employment of machinists is expected to increase and employment of CNC operators is expected to increase. About 82 percent of program graduates are employed within nine months of graduation. The average annual wage in this field is $59,155, with an earning potential of about $90,542 per year.*

Criminal convictions may restrict or prevent student participation with internships and employment in this industry.

Although most program graduates work as machinists, with experience, graduates can advance to positions such as journey level machinist, tool programmer, CNC operator/programmer, manager, engineer and machine and shop tools sales and service representative.

In addition, some graduates are self-employed. Around the country, most machinists work in small machining shops or in manufacturing firms that produce durable goods, such as metalworking and industrial machinery, aircraft, or motor vehicles.

Faculty & Support

Photo of Jacen Johnson
Jacen Johnson

Photo of Jeffrey Halfacre
Jeffrey Halfacre

Jeff has ten years experience as a machinist in a wide range of specialties, from aerospace to musical instrument manufacturing. Jeff started his machining career as a CNC operator for JAMCO America in Everett. After six years at JAMCO, Jeff came to BTC as a student and is a proud graduate of the Precision Machining program. After earning his degree Jeff worked as a programmer/operator for custom door manufacturer Northstar Woodworks in Ferndale, and as a set-up machinist for ProCNC in Bellingham. Jeff is currently a contract Mastercam rogrammer/prototyper/consultant for acoustic guitar parts supplier Pacific Rim Tonewoods in Concrete. Jeff started at BTC in July, 2014.