What Does A Machine Operator Do? (Duties And Salary)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Machine operators focus on the operation and maintenance of heavy machinery, including functions like configuring, disassembling and quality testing. They often work in production plants and manufacturing industries. If you are looking for a machine operator job, knowing about the primary responsibilities, salary and necessary skills can be helpful. In this article, we discuss what does a machine operator do, explore their skills and responsibilities and learn how to become one.

What does a machine operator do?

Knowing the answer to "What does a machine operator do?" can help you advance your career in this role. Machine operators are labourers who work with heavy machinery and equipment to execute activities such as manufacturing, servicing and other functions. They are responsible for all machine-specific operations, including equipment configuration, loading and running the machines. They also ensure that the machine operates at maximum capacity, supervise its maintenance and conduct periodic quality tests.

Related: What Does A CNC Operator Do? Career, Skills And Salary

Primary responsibilities of a machine operator

Here are some of the primary responsibilities a machine operator may have:

  • calibrating the machine prior to the beginning of production

  • monitoring and handling machine setting and performance

  • conducting regular tests to check machines' operating capacity

  • following all the safety measures and company standards

  • inspecting various machines using proper tools

  • supplying raw materials to semi-automated machines for helping assembly lines

  • troubleshooting machinery to improve performance

  • maintaining database of all the machine information, including defective units and final products

  • preparing and providing performance reports of machines to the upper management

  • analysing machinery parts using micrometres and rulers to ensure that the machines are meeting all the design parameters

  • cleaning and maintaining machinery and the work area

  • understanding and following the instructions properly while using machinery

  • repairing small machinery that can be necessary while operating heavy machines

  • starting big machinery and adjusting as per requirement for better performance

  • performing pre-operation tasks to ensure proper startup and operation

  • communicating with coworkers and staff members to ensure an efficient production line for high-quality products

Related: How To List Job Responsibilities In Job Listings

Steps to become a machine operator

You can consider following these steps to become a machine operator:

1. Complete your education

The minimum education requirement to become a machine operator is a senior secondary, diploma or the equivalent. Having this qualification can ensure that the candidate possesses basic math skills and other fundamental knowledge that can be helpful in the workplace. You can consider pursuing your education from any recognised institution. There is no subject-specific requirement, but having basic maths and technical knowledge is a plus.

2. Get familiar with hand tools

You can work with equipment such as pliers, hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches to ensure that you can handle these types of equipment properly, as there may be regular use of these in a manufacturing environment. Consider getting some entry-level job experience that may allow you to hone your time management skills, attention to detail and teamwork skills. You may look for warehousing or production roles. To get some experience and learning in the field, such as interpreting blueprints accurately, handling heavy machinery and understanding the fundamentals of a manufacturing line, you can complete an apprenticeship of a year or more.

3. Pursue certifications

You can consider pursuing relevant certifications and training, such as excavator operator training and a heavy machine operator training program. You may opt to have one or more certifications and training to show industry-specific abilities and expertise in your resume. Some certification or training may result in career progression, higher roles and better pay.

4. Build your resume

Once you complete your education and training and get some experience, you can create a resume highlighting your relevant experience and skills. You can add all your past works and experiences in the manufacturing and warehousing industries to your resume. As you describe your past work experience, highlight your skills such as problem-solving skills, communication skills, efficiency with using machines and ability to use hand tools and other equipment used in machinery operation.

Related: How To Write "About Me" In A Resume In 4 Steps (With Tips)

5. Apply for machine operator job roles

After creating your resume, you can look for machine operator job roles in your preferred location. While searching, include terms related to machines of your interest or have expertise with during your job search, such as assembling, moving or die-making machinery. You can also reach out to such employers and consultants offline who recruit bulk machine operators.

What are the primary skills of a machine operator?

Machine operators require a specific skill set, along with many other hard and soft skills, to operate the complex machines they use regularly. Some of the skills include:

Communication skills

Manufacturing is a collaborative activity in which items frequently pass through several phases before completion. The ability to interact and communicate with teams can be critical to maintain the seamless operation of the whole manufacturing process. It is also important to communicate the machinery performance report appropriately.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples In The Workplace (With Tips)

Attention to detail

Machine operators may require performing an inspection of goods, who may also require detecting minor irregularities that can signal that the machinery is malfunctioning. Performing such minor inspections requires good attention to detail. As machine operators work with heavy machines, they also work with great attention to ensure their safety.

Physical strength and stamina

After several hours of repetitive movements, having good physical strength and stamina can allow a machine operator to continue operating machinery safely and comfortably. They often move heavy machinery that also requires high physical strength. Having a proper diet and exercise can help in improving stamina and physical ability.

Problem-solving skills

Machine operators are responsible for identifying and correcting minor errors in the equipment. Having strong problem-solving ability can help them identify where errors are occurring and determine the most appropriate solution. It can also help them find and fix any defects in early phases to avoid any effect on the other manufacturing stages.

Proficiency with hand tools

Machine operators use many hand tools such as pliers, hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches to calibrate their machinery. They also do minor repairs and perform basic maintenance of machinery using hand tools. These functions require proficiency with hand tools.

Basic computer skills

To operate and monitor machinery, machine operators often use computers. They may also require using computer programs to fill out the performance reports and document preparation. Having a basic knowledge of computer functions can help them perform these tasks efficiently.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include On A Resume (With Examples)

How much does a machine operator make?

The national average salary of a machine operator is ₹14,471 per month. The average salary may vary depending on the location of the job. There are many factors, including experience and hiring organisations, that can significantly influence the average salary of a machine operator.

Work environment of machine operators

Machine operators usually work in manufacturing industries, factories, production plants and warehouses or workshops. Machine operators' job roles may demand to stand, walk or sit for extended amounts of time during their entire workday. They usually do repetitive work using their hands and may also be required to move heavy equipment and machinery. To comply with regulations and company-specific standards, machine operators often wear protective equipment such as goggles, steel-toe boots, thick gloves and earplugs, along with taking regular safety protocol training.

Sample job description of a machine operator

Here are some sample job descriptions of a machine operator:

Sample job description one

Wavewood is looking for a detail-oriented machine operator with good communication skills and the ability to work on a team to ensure that the machine meets all design parameters of the blueprints. The candidate should have two years or more experience as a machine operator and must be able to use callipers and micrometres, read blueprints, have knowledge of basic hand tools and can perform regular testing procedures.

Sample job description two

We are seeking a machine operator for our industry who has at least one year of prior experience in a manufacturing facility. The candidate must be detail-oriented, able to work with the team and follow written and verbal instructions. Must have knowledge of basic tools and equipment and be able to operate and maintain machinery to improve performance. Any graduate is eligible to apply.

Related: Objective For A Machine Operator Resume (With 7 Examples)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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