What is the salary of machine operator?

The national average for Machine Operators right now is $17.25 per hour. This is about $35,800 annually. Machine Operators are in high demand! As more and more of the world becomes automated, there is also a high demand for people to operate the machines needed for this automation. 
Some locations have higher wage averages than others. Albion, IN has the highest average at $21.01 per hour! Compare that with Muskegon, MI with an average pay of $14.18 per hour. This information is great to have in case you live within commuting distance to a location where the pay may be slightly higher just across the border.

What are the duties of a machine operator?

Machine Operators do, well just that, operate machines.  These machines are normally the kind that creates things which means they require constant monitoring for quality.  Watching machines work isn’t all a Machine Operator does though, they are also responsible for:

  • Loading materials into the machines
  • Setting up the tools used in the machine
  • Cleaning the machines
  • Troubleshooting
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Setting up the machine for the next job
  • Filling out order paperwork
  • Reporting on supply levels

What skills do you need to be a Machine Operator?

The job responsibilities that are required for a Machine Operator job are often based on the industry that a specific operator works in. 

That said, there are also certain skills that a Machine Operator should possess in order to keep everything running smoothly. These skills include:

  • Strength and stamina
  • Working in a fast-paced environment
  • Attention to detail
  • Safety-minded
  • Great at multitasking

What kind of training do you need to become a machine operator?

To become a Machine Operator you only need a high school diploma or GED. This is great if you are new to the trade or a recent graduate with no experience. You can also enhance your chances of being hired with additional training. These optional education opportunities can help you specialize in specific sub-skills that your job will cover. These training options can certify you to work with specific metals, particular machine brands, or they may teach you to troubleshoot a machine and maintain safety requirements.

Some of these options include certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International or your local trade school or community college. 

If you aren’t sure where to start when pursuing additional education for machine operation, it may be a good idea to ask your employer or the companies you would like to work with. This can clue you in on what certifications employers will find most appealing when looking to hire a Machine Operator.

Do you have to go to school to become a machine operator?

While you don’t have to have any formal training to become a Machine Operator, it is never a bad idea to expand on your knowledge through additional certifications and education. These can make you a more desirable candidate or give you leverage when asking for higher pay. 

If you do decide to go back to school for the trade of machine operation, there are a few options on where to look. 

  • Many jobs offer on-the-job training, especially those hiring for entry-level positions. You may start out with an entry-level position and move into the Machine Operator role once your training is complete. This method is great because it’s free education and you are paid while you learn! 
  • A similar option is an apprenticeship. The biggest difference between learning on-the-job and an apprenticeship is that apprenticeships are not always paid (since your training is considered compensation in this case). But, if you are able to find a paid apprenticeship, more power to you.
  • Another option to look into is private trade schools, community colleges or training centers in your area. These education options normally cost money to attend, but you can sometimes have this cost offset by your employer, a scholarship, a grant or even a tax rebate. Attending these options can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how intensive the training is you are going for. 

Are there entry-level machine operator positions?

There certainly are! Entry-level Machine Operator positions are available since the job only requires that you have a high school diploma or GED. Some of these will even offer on-the-job training so you don’t have to look for additional job training to be hired. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the world is continually on a move towards automation, which means more and more machines that are in need of operators. You can be the perfect candidate to fill this growing need.

As well, companies are in desperate need of employees since unemployment is at an all-time low, and those with trade-skills are hard to come by. If you have the drive and skills for this job, then you are likely to find a Machine Operator job near you. 

What is the interview process for a machine operator?

The interview process to become a Machine Operator is much like any other job. You will apply for the job in person or online and include your resume so your potential employer is aware of your skills. Next, you will be called in for an interview where the company can ask you specific questions about yourself and your skills. This is your time to shine and show them you are the perfect person to be their Machine Operator. Some companies may ask you to complete a hands-on test so you can prove your skills or knowledge of machine operation. This isn’t always required, but if it is, you will be told ahead of time so you can prepare and dress appropriately. 

Some things to remember for your interview are:

Dress to Impress – Your job may not require you to wear a suit every day, but you should dress up for the interview.

Be Confident – If you know what you are talking about don’t be afraid to show it.  The company wants someone who knows what they are doing.

Practice – Give your opening statement to your roommate.  Repeat your closing remarks to yourself in the mirror.  Record yourself answering some practice questions. Practice, practice, practice.

Come Prepared – Bring copies of your resume, certifications credentials, ID and a bottle of water.

Breath – Keep yourself calm and speaking at a good pace by breathing between questions.

What is the difference between a machine operator and a machinist?

When it comes to the day-to-day job duties, the responsibilities of a Machine Operator and a Machinist are quite similar. The one key difference is that a Machinist normally has additional training so that they can program and repair the machines. 

As you can imagine, additional education and job duties equal higher pay. CNC machinists have a higher average pay of about $21.81. This can be inspiring if you have been thinking about becoming a Machine Operator or are currently in the role. 

What kind of careers are available to Machine Operators

As we have discussed, there are plenty of entry-level options for the job, but there is also plenty of room to grow within the field once you have been hired. You can advance from a Machine Operator to a:

  • Supervisor or Manager
  • Machinist
  • Quality Inspector
  • Forklift or Heavy Duty Equipment Operator
  • Machine Technician & Repairman

What kind of industries hire machine operators?

There are tons of industries that can use the skills of a Machine Operator! Since the world is becoming more and more automated, there is a definite need for those who can operate these complex machines and judge when they need to be repaired, cleaned or stopped for quality and safety purposes. Some of the industries who heavily rely on Machine Operators are:

  • Warehouses
  • Factories
  • Hospitals
  • Shipping Centers
  • Printing Services
  • Boat Docks
  • Food & Drink Manufacturing
  • Automotive Manufacturing