Complete Guide To Becoming a Production Operator

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 1, 2021

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.

The manufacturing processes and distribution ensure end-consumers get their favorite products on the store shelves on time. Factories hire many workers for everything to run smoothly. A production operator is one of the professionals who use various equipment to facilitate the process. In this article, you'll learn about the job demands, duties, requirements and salaries.

What is a production operator?

A production operator is in charge of an assembly line and machines that execute particular tasks in a factory. They ensure their employers achieve product line targets. The job entails handling raw materials, including metal and plastic, and performing repetitive duties as well as high concentration levels and physical stamina.

They usually work on the manufacturing floor to ensure there are no glitches in the production processes. As expected, their work environment can be noisy most of the time. Shift times vary depending on employer needs, ranging from early mornings, daytimes, evenings or nights. With an average income of $14.77 per hour, manufacturing jobs are becoming more popular by the day, especially among men with physical agility, although reported salary figures are frequently updated.

Related: Manufacturing Jobs: Definition and Examples

How to become a production operator

The hiring criteria are versatile because different companies deal with various products. However, you can follow these essential tips to get started:

1. Choose an industry

Consider the amount of education you need before making a career decision, depending on your preferred industry. There are many options since you can work in various industries in manufacturing, such as mining, food and beverage, medical or transport and logistics. Past job experiences can point you in the right direction if you're unsure what to choose.

2. Get accreditation

Some companies prefer hiring operators with post-high school education. Candidates interested in this job position should also acquire basic knowledge in areas like:

  • English fluency

  • Customer service and satisfaction

  • Production and processing

  • Computer software and hardware

  • Administration and management

  • Sales and marketing

  • Mechanics

  • Mathematics

Although some operators have college degrees, you can become one by taking a general educational development test (GED) or completing a high school degree. You may need to enroll in a vocational institution if your desired position involves high-tech equipment.

3. Send out resumes

Once you have the accreditation, you can start sending your resume to potential employers. Companies usually advertise for vacancies on job boards and online career pages. Search for jobs by checking the type of contract or locality. Experience in other roles or positions, such as customer service or cashier, can add value to your machine operator resume.

Arrive at the interview on time and make sure the potential employers see the value you can add to their organizations. When starting, it pays to apply for an entry-level position and then build on experience. Since companies use different manufacturing equipment and systems, be ready to learn once you secure employment. Seasoned workers often oversee training programs for the new hires once they start working.

Related: Machine Operator Resume Samples

Production operator job responsibilities

Companies dealing with the manufacture of products largely depend on their machines' proper working to meet production goals. Operators are an essential part of this process since they supervise equipment and productivity. The duties of operators depend on the kind of products the company manufactures. Many job responsibilities are similar, so expect to handle some of the ones described below.

Overseeing machinery

Operators maintain machines by ensuring that they function correctly. When something sounds off or doesn't seem right, the production operator examines the device and makes the necessary adjustments. Similarly, operators set up maintenance and cleaning schedules to avoid problems by ensuring machines run as required. In case some equipment becomes faulty or damaged, they also swiftly organize repairs or replacements to prevent downtimes.

Inspecting finished products

Sometimes a machine's problem may not be evident until you look at the items after production. In such cases, machine operators examine the output to ensure quality control so that what is being manufactured is standard. When defects occur, the operators try to understand the error's cause and correct it for future batches to come out as expected. By performing quality inspection, operators reduce customer complaints, increasing their loyalty to the product.

Understanding deadlines

Manufacturing companies make money by selling their products. Without awareness of the output goals, factories may not meet delivery goals. Such delays often lead to unsatisfied clients who stare angrily at empty store shelves. Understanding deadlines means that the operator will ensure all the manufacturing process teams play their roles in time. For example, they can liaise with suppliers to ensure the raw materials required for making the products arrive on-site in time.

Reporting to leaders

Production operators work under supervisors who expect daily reports on activities informing management about any issues that could be causing declines in productivity on an assembly line. Operators use an outcome-based reporting structure because information overload can be toxic to interpersonal skills and productivity. They must be able to circumvent crucial and relevant information through proper channels tp enable teams to collaborate effectively.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Maintaining a safe environment

Since they usually work with large and powerful equipment, machine operators must abide by government and workplace guidelines. Failure to do so may cause injury. The primary safety actions they observe are cleaning work areas and wearing correct safety gear. They also replace machines that are potential safety hazards. They check for any loose chippings, risk of falling objects, slippery floors, etc. and place warning signs for all people in the area.


Companies usually task seasoned machine operators with getting new hires up to the mark. They work as mentors who can explain everything thoroughly while monitoring all team members' progress. Simultaneously, operators should also be ready to receive training on new industry techniques or equipment. Continually upgrading their skills enables them to increase earning potential and remain relevant to their employers.

Production operator skills

Being at ease around machinery is the main trait for anyone interested in becoming a machine operator. There are plenty of other requirements for the job, including:

  • Physical requirements: Production operators must possess adequate fitness and stamina. The job requires you to stand on your feet for an extended time duration, and you need to bend and carry heavy things to perform daily duties.

  • Attention to detail: Focus is essential in determining whether machines are operating as required or the finished item is up to par. Being attentive also enables operators to notice any weird sounds coming from the machinery.

  • Communication: For daily operations to run smoothly, machine operators need to give clear instructions to other parties involved and explain problems as they arise. Poor communications can exacerbate even minor issues.

  • Independence: They should possess the ability to perform their jobs independently, but they're still expected to work as team members and report to supervisors. Freedom doesn't mean doing the opposite of your job description.

  • Calmness: A hot-headed person cannot work as a machine operator because the job causes a lot of mental stress. When deadlines are looming, or some problems are difficult to solve, they should still maintain composure.

  • Work ethic: Like other professionals in a factory setting, production operators must arrive on time, stay on task and take pride in their job. Such a work ethic ensures better output for reaching production goals.

  • Computer competency: Sometimes, operators need to enter crucial data into the system, create activity logs, write inspection results and track inventory. Therefore, computer literacy is essential.

  • Time management: Production operators should know how to manage their time and other team members. Poor time management often leads to production delays, reduced productivity and financial losses.

  • Reading comprehension: Manufacturing companies have numerous work-related documents they issue to machine operators, who must possess reading comprehension to understand the requirements. Improper translations of the papers can interfere with production processes and even lead to safety hazards.

  • Active listening: Machine operators must give full attention to what their team members are saying. Active listening also entails not interrupting others when talking, understanding the discussion points and asking appropriate questions.

  • Critical thinking: Many things can go wrong with a manufacturing company. When facing such problems, operators should use logic to identify all possible solutions' pros and cons.

  • Social perceptiveness: People act differently when working and when under pressure. Awareness of your colleagues' reactions helps you to understand their actions better.

  • Writing: Although they do not need to write daily, machine operators still need to communicate effectively in writing when the need arises. Their audience will determine the kind of writing.

  • Systems analysis: System operations mainly affect productivity in companies. For the best outcomes, operators must understand how the system works and the changes needed to achieve production goals.

Some production operators advance their careers by taking other roles within their companies. With experience, training and additional certification, machine operators can increase their earnings by becoming production managers or supervisors, who are usually responsible for training new hires. Others become experts at operating special equipment, troubleshooting problems and repairing machinery.

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