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Wondering if a machine operator job is for you? This article might help you decide. You’ll learn more about what machine operator jobs are like, the qualifications you need, and how you can find the ideal machine operator position. Machine Operators are in demand throughout the country, especially where manufacturers are located. You can work on a temporary, temporary-to-hire, and direct-hire basis. You can often choose from a variety of shifts depending on what best suits your lifestyle. If you are interested in machine operator jobs, also investigate these related jobs: 

  • CNC Machine Setter 
  • CNC Machinist 
  • CNC Operator 
  • Die Setter 
  • Injection Molding Technician 
  • Machine Technician 
  • Set-Up Person 

You may be required to operate different types of machinery, but once you are established, you will probably work on one specific kind of machinery and become an expert in its operation. You may be cross-trained on a variety of machines, or your supervisor may rotate machine operators to different machines to make the day pass more quickly. 

Why Work a Machine Operator Job? 

Machine operator jobs are ideal for people who enjoy working with their hands. You’ll gain mastery on specific machines and work as part of a team toward a common goal. It’s not an easy job, but it’s one you can leave behind at the end of the day. When you’re off the clock, your work is done. You won’t have to answer emails or take work calls when your shift is over.  

What are a Machine Operator’s Daily Job Requirements?  

For entry-level positions, a high-school diploma or GED is required. Higher-level positions may require additional certifications or specialized training from a technical school. Machine operatorjob duties may include: 

  • Reading and using micrometers and calipers. 
  • Calibrating equipment to produce the correct specification of products. 
  • Loading, positioning, arranging materials, and operating equipment to create products. 
  • Communicating irregularities, problems, and process concerns. 
  • Monitoring supplies and inventory and ensuring an adequate amount of materials ready at hand. 
  • Following detailed instructions, operation methods and procedures, and sequence of operations to produce work that is subject to final inspection. 
  •  Ensuring documentation is completed properly, including clocking in and out of jobs. 
  • Detecting equipment malfunctions or out-of-tolerance machining and report all malfunctions to supervisor. 
  • Performing other related duties as assigned. 

What are the Qualifications Necessary to be a Machine Operator?  

Pay rate and qualifications depend on the kind of machine you’re working on and where the employer is located. Some machine operator positions require prior experience, training, or certifications. If you are new to the machine operator role or looking for an entry-level position, chances are you’ll have plenty of opportunities to choose from. If you are dependable, hard-working, and focus on excelling on the job, you’ll increase your job security and chances of promotion. More advanced machine operator jobs can require technical school classes or an associate degree. 

What is the Salary of a Machine Operator?  

The pay rate for machine operator jobs depends on where in the country the employer is located, how much demand there is for workers, and the industry where you are working. Machine operator jobs requiring advanced mechanical or technical skills will pay more. Your rate is likely to increase as you gain experience and expertise in your job or take on leadership positions. 

Machine operators are usually paid hourly rather than straight salary and can earn overtime pay if the employer needs to meet a tight deadline or keep up with high demand. The current average hourly pay for machine operator jobs in the United States is just over $16.00 an hour. Machine operator jobs that require a high level of skill or experience can pay more than $20.00 an hour, while entry-level positions may start at minimum wage or a little more. Hard work, dependability, and time on the job can help you build your skills and increase your hourly rate. 

What Skills are Used as a Machine Operator 

A machine operator may work hands-on with manual machinery or computer-based, mechanically based, or remotely controlled machines that require troubleshooting and observation to ensure everything is running as expected. Machine operator jobs include several responsibilities, including setting up equipment, loading materials, and operating machinery. Machine operators also monitor the machines for efficiency, maintenance, and quality. 

Candidates for machine operator jobs can impress employers by working well as part of a team or independently. They are looking for people who can work well without constant supervision but take constructive feedback and learn from their mistakes. The ideal machine operator understands the machines and is hard-working, dependable, and willing to learn. 

What is the Job Setting for Machine Operator Jobs?  

Machine operators typically work in manufacturing and production plants, warehouses, or workshops. Machine operator jobs are available throughout the country and in a variety of industries. If you prefer to live in a big city or small town, chances are your skills will be in demand. For example, the Gulf regions of Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas may have machine operator positions in the energy field. The Pacific Northwest may offer jobs that support food production or fisheries. It all depends on your interests and where you want to work. 

Equipment Used in Machine Operator Jobs 

Most employers supply the required personal protective equipment (PPE) they expect machine operators to wear. Common PPE can include steel-toed boots, hard hats, and safety glasses. Depending on the work environment, you may also be issued specialized PPE such as cut-proof gloves, masks, or respirators. Machine operators work on a variety of equipment, including milling machines, lathes, and grinders. You may need different skills and equipment depending on if you are working on computer or manually controlled machines. 

Typical Hours for Machine Operator Jobs  

You can find temporary, temp-to-hire, or direct hire jobs on the first, second, or third shift. If you’re an early bird, you’ll probably appreciate the first shift. You’ll start your day at six or seven in the morning, and by late afternoon the day is yours! The second shift is usually three to eleven, which can be popular with parents who like to tag-team childcare or anyone who enjoys sleeping in. Companies may run a third shift – eleven to seven — either year-round or to keep up with crunch time, production deadlines, or if their industry demands. 

Skills That Help You Succeed in a Machine Operator Job  

You may find that experience from other jobs can help you get the job or excel as a machine operator include:  

  • CNC/NC 
  • Forklift Certification 
  • Leadership 
  • Maintenance 
  • Precision Machining 
  • Problem Solving 
  • Quality Assurance / Quality Control 
  • Team Leadership 
  • Troubleshooting 

Career Path for Machine Operators 

If you have demonstrated success over time as a machine operator and are looking for the next step in your career, these are the kinds of jobs you can set your sights on.  

  • Machinists 
  • Production Operator 
  • Production Supervisor 
  • Maintenance Technician 
  • machinery maintenance 
  • Industrial machinery mechanics  
  • Tool and die makers 

Physical Demand of Machine Operator Jobs 

Machine operators often need to lift up to 50 lbs. on the job. The job requires strong math and analytical skills to read and understand complex instructions and have a basic understanding of how schematics work. They need attention-to-detail and problem-solving skills to make sure machinery is set up and operating properly. They must be able to troubleshoot any problems or malfunctions and resolve the issue quickly. This takes strong good mechanical and technical skills, as does working with computer-operated machines, which require knowledge of CAD/CAM technology. 

What is the Difference Between a Machine Operator and a Machinist? 

People commonly believe these jobs to be the same. They are similar, but there are some differences. For example, a machinist generally has some mechanical or technical training so they can program and repair the machines. Gaining this experience can make you more marketable to employers and boost your income. A CNC machinist, for instance, can earn more than $20 per hour. 

Start Your Search with a Staffing Agency 

Working with a staffing agency is a great way to get started as a machine operator. They typically have strong relationships with many employers, improving your chance of finding a machine operator position that’s right for you. In most cases, you can apply once to be considered for many jobs, which is much easier than searching for jobs online and filling out dozens of applications requesting the same information. They can offer different employment options such as temporary, temp-to-hire, or direct hire jobs which give you choices depending on your lifestyle or preferences. 

Contact Westside Personnel Services 

Westside Personnel Services is St. Louis & Franklin County’s top staffing agency for assembly positions. We help job seekers throughout the area find the right jobs. If you’d like to get started as a machine operator or want help finding a better machine operator opportunity, stop by our offices or search machine jobs and apply online today! We would be happy to help you make the most of your skills and experience to earn a competitive income or find a job that’s a better fit for you.