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What is a Machine Operator?

If you’re looking for a job as a machine operator, discover helpful information below for your job search. Learn the basics of the role of a machine operator, pay ranges, industries of opportunity, who hires machine operators and how to prepare for an interview. As a candidate preparing for a new position, it’s important to understand what a machine operator does, what skills are essential, what you can expect on the job, and more. Not only is this potentially your next position, but this will also be a stepping stone in your career.

What does a machine operator do?

The equipment that machine operators work with may be electronic, computer-operated, or manual mechanisms. In addition to daily work and production, maintenance and cleaning are also part of a machine operator’s daily routine.

As a machine operator, employees must be able to adapt quickly and efficiently. A strong knowledge of machines and how they work is a must, including how to analyze and troubleshoot them should something go wrong. Being detail-oriented and willing to learn are key traits that all Machine Operators should possess and use daily.

Below you will find a sample job description for machine operators.


• Operate multiple machines while maintaining a safe work environment and meeting all production and quality standards.

• Have thorough knowledge and understanding of machine operating procedures.

• Follow all quality procedures and perform all required quality checks.

• Follow all department and machine safety rules and procedures.

• Keep the work area clean by assisting with sweeping the cell.

• Keep scrap and recycle down to a minimum.

• Complete all reworks.

• Complete all necessary paperwork including, but not limited to, runtime and production output.

• Make mechanical adjustments to machines.

• Follow all procedures for machine cleaning to maintain machine cleanliness.

• Additional duties as assigned.


• Prior manufacturing experience preferred, but not required.

• Ability to work in a fast-paced environment needed with keen attention to detail.

• Basic math skills; ability to read blueprints and construction documents preferred.

• Use of various hand tools.

• Able to stand, lift, bend for 12 hours per day.

• Able to lift up to 25 pounds throughout shift.

Skillset, Industry and Demand

Some of the top skill sets and proficiencies that may be required as a Machine Operator are:

• Analytical skills

• Knowledge of production procedures

• Ability to handle heavy equipment safely

• Attention to detail

• Physical stamina and strength

• Ability to read blueprints, schematics, manuals and other production documents

What does a machine operator make?

The average pay for a Machine Operator is $17.50 per hour. If you have more than three to five years of experience, you are likely to make ten to fifteen percent more than someone who is just starting out in the field.

Where do machine operators work?

The current demand for Machine Operators is highest in Ohio with over 3,000 current openings. (https://www.indeed.com/q-Machine-Operator-l-Ohio-jobs.html)

This is followed by Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Minnesota. (https://www.zippia.com/machine-operator-jobs/best-states/) Across America, there is a growing demand for machine operators. Recently, it has been statistically shown that machine operator jobs are in demand, due to production halts during COVID-19.

Who hires machine operators?

Machine operators can work in a variety of industries. The automotive parts manufacturing industry has the highest number of workers employed at just under 2 million in 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/276474/automotive-industry-employees-in-the-united-states-by-sector/). In the role of automotive machine operator, employees will perform multiple duties including machine calibration and running, precision work, cleaning and maintenance of machines, switching die cuts for different parts to be created and more.

Other industries where machine operator jobs are common include food, solar and more. With an increase in new employment and re-hiring after COVID-19, machine operation opportunities are anticipated to be on the rise. While it is not required, many employers prefer Machine Operators to have a high school diploma or GED.

Getting ready for a machine operator interview? Here’s what you need to know.

Are you getting ready to interview for a Machine Operator position? Being prepared for your interview is very important, and could be the difference between you and another candidate. Prepare for your interview by gathering a list of questions related to the position, such as responsibilities, shift information, and any specific training or required certifications or what will be required to work in this role. You should also come prepared with your resume, detailing your previous work experience and any special skill sets, certifications, or roles that may aid you in the position you are interviewing for.

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