Machine Operator: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Machine operators work at a fast pace on projects that require precision. Jobs in manufacturing involve exposure to chemicals, loud noises, and equipment that is both automated and manual. Operators are expected to follow employee safety standards by adhering to both environmental and Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations.
Career Outlook Description for Machine Operators
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a modest decrease in the employment of metal and plastic machine operators of 6% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Although the rate of growth is slower than the average predicted for all occupations, opportunities for skilled workers will arise as more individuals retire in the years to come. As of May 2013, the median hourly wages for machine operators were reported as $13.68 an hour by the BLS; the median hourly wage earned by metal and plastic molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders was reported by the same source as $22.15.
Some machine operators are responsible for one function, while others are responsible for a variety of steps, utilizing different equipment for each. Because of the potential for danger from working close to large machines, safety and cleanliness in the workplace are extremely important.
Due to production line requirements, machine operators work in an environment where teamwork is important. They look over and measure parts with precision tools in order to make sure certain parts meet pre-determined quality and cosmetic standards. When parts have passed inspection, the parts go on to the next phase of production.
Machine operators are expected to meet production quotas. The level of documentation required varies, depending on the degree of precision needed for the finished product. Machine operators also need to keep track of the number of units that are scrapped due to various errors.
Education and Performance Requirements
Machine operators are required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Two years of experience working in a similar shop is a common requirement. Machine operators need to be able to lift 50 pounds and work on their feet, while using tools to perform repetitive actions, for a 10-hour shift. Due to the time-sensitive nature of manufacturing, some workplaces have overtime requirements. In order to abide by certain OSHA and local environmental agency regulations, mandatory safety training, protective gear, and chemical handling procedures are required.
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