What does a Machine Operator do?

Machine operators set-up, operate, and maintain machinery, usually in a manufacturing setting. They are responsible for ensuring the machine produces high quality products, runs smoothly and at capacity, and is properly maintained.

Education and training requirements depend on the type of machinery. Most machine operator positions require a high school degree. Machine operators typically have strong attention to detail, strong mathematical skills, and are excellent teamworkers.

What responsibilities are common for Machine Operator jobs?
  • Set up machinery for operation
  • Start machinery and make adjustments to machinery when necessary to improve performance
  • Operate machinery and equipment according to instructions
  • Troubleshoot issues and perform maintenance
  • Perform quality control, follow reporting and recordkeeping procedures, and report problems to supervisor
  • Comply with all safety and health regulations
  • Clean machinery and maintain cleanliness in work area
What are the typical qualifications for Machine Operator jobs?
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Previous machine operating experience in a manufacturing facility, or similar relevant experience
  • Must be detail-oriented
  • Understanding of production and plant processes
  • Analytical and numerical skills: ability to perform mathematical calculations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) in different units of measurement
  • Ability to follow written and oral instructions
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to lift heavy equipment, to bend, and to stand or walk for long periods of time
  • Willingness to work in shifts (late or early hours, weekends, and overtime if necessary)
EducationGED / High School Degree
Work/Life Balance
2.9 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.0 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Machine Operator Salaries

Average Base Pay

$45,079 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
See More Insights
$32K
Median: $45K
$63K
See More Insights
Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Machine Operator Career Path

Learn how to become a Machine Operator, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Machine Operator
$45,079/yr
Senior Machine Operator
$44,524/yr
Machine Operator

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
25%
2 - 4
27%
5 - 7
2%
8+
46%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Machine Operator Insights

Read what Machine Operator professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Golden State FoodsGolden State Foods
Cup Machine Operator
Jul 9, 2022

“Pay is ok but not great because what ever you do is not enough its always more more more”

Flint Group (Luxembourg)Flint Group (Luxembourg)
Machine Operator
Jul 19, 2021

“I’m not sure I can mention his name and plant manager was nice and didn’t see any issues with him”

NonesNones
Machine Operator
May 27, 2021

“I want to work and earn a good living while adding value to help my employer grow”

HP HoodHP Hood
Machine Operator
Jun 24, 2021

“They pay every Friday is the best part about the job and pay pretty good.”

High Steel StructuresHigh Steel Structures
Machine Operator
Feb 22, 2021

“I was promised training and internal promotion and have received neither after years of working here.”

Raven IndustriesRaven Industries
Machine Operator
Sept 7, 2021

“pay is average but did adapt to surround businesses in same field and raised wages.”

Carbery Food Ingredients
Production Operator
Oct 16, 2021

“Pay isn't as good as equivalent sites and overtime needs to be worked to make any decent money.”

Craig Frames
Saw Operator
Apr 2, 2022

“The schedule is pretty much the same from week to week and we get 3 or 4 day weekends alternating.”

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Machine Operator Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of machine operators

A machine operator spends their day loading raw materials into equipment for manufacturing, making necessary adjustments and repairs, monitoring equipment as it runs, and handling any kind of reporting paperwork or data entry. Machine operators also may operate conveyor belts in industries like shipping logistics.

Yes, being a machine operator is valuable because all manufacturing and production companies rely on machine operators to keep their businesses functioning well. Observant and skilled machine operators are a vital part of the process to make observations and adjustments when necessary.

On average, in the United States, machine operators are paid about $45,079. Depending on the facility's location and the cost of living there, that salary can be a livable wage. Experienced machine operators may earn up to $62,963 per year.

Yes, working as a machine operator is a physically demanding job. They need to be able to lift heavy objects, they often perform repetitive motions for hours, and they often work in a loud environment. If you're considering becoming a machine operator, you will need to be able to focus on repetitive tasks and be extremely safety-conscious.

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Machine Operator jobs