what is a machine operator?

As a machine operator, you work with machines and equipment. Your work is often in a manufacturing or production plant that mass-produces consumer goods or electronic parts. Some machines you would likely operate include lathes, boring machines, drill presses and precision grinders. You could specialize in running one of these or multiple types of equipment.

Your job as a machine operator often involves repetitive motions, like frequent use of foot pedals, levers and switches. Sometimes, you also feed raw materials into the equipment. These roles require physical strength and manual dexterity to lift heavy goods and ensure the proper operation of machines. Machine operators also fine-tune and adjust machine calibrations to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Would working as a machine operator suit your interest? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a machine operator role.

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average machine operator salary

Would you like to know what a machine operator earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for a machine operator? Then check out this machine operator salary page and find out all about the salary of a machine operator in the USA.

female operating a machine
female operating a machine

types of machine operators

Some specialization areas in machine operations include:

  • mobile plant machine operators: You operate or drive cranes and forklifts as a mobile plant operator. You also operate mining and extraction machinery in various industries.
  • drilling and boring machine operators: Your job is to set up and operate drilling and milling machines. You use the machines to drill holes in various materials like metal and plastic.
  • rolling machine operators: Your role is to run rolling mills that shape metals and other materials into rods and plates. You also carry out the necessary maintenance on the machines.
  • construction machine operators: As a machine operator in the construction industry, you run equipment like excavation machines and cement mixers.

working as a machine operator

A machine operator uses heavy machinery to accomplish various tasks in manufacturing and production. Let's explore some of a machine operator's roles and work environments.


machine operator skills and education

To work as a machine operator, you need to start by earning a high school diploma or GED. This qualification is typically the minimum requirement for this role and sets a foundation for further education.

If you want to enhance your competitiveness in the job market, choose to pursue an associate's degree in heavy machinery or operations. This degree program provides in-depth knowledge and skills related to the field. By completing this program, you could increase your chances of securing a machine operator position.

female operating a machine
female operating a machine

FAQs about working as a machine operator

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about machine operators.

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