Machine Operator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Machine Operator, or Forklift Operator, installs, fixes and operates various types of machinery. Their main duties include performing routine maintenance checks, following strict safety regulations and guidelines and operating mechanical or computer-operated equipment.

 

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Machine Operator duties and responsibilities

Machine Operators complete a variety of maintenance, development and operations tasks that promote the efficient production of a manufacturing plant, construction site or other professional setting. Their duties and responsibilities often include:

  • Monitoring and maintaining warehouse equipment and machinery
  • Setting up manufacturing equipment
  • Overseeing training of new or Junior Machine Operators
  • Using machine equipment to complete tasks
  • Performing routine inspections of manufacturing equipment
  • Evaluating the efficiency of each unit regularly, identifying improvements as needed

 

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What does a Machine Operator do?

Machine Operators work in company warehouses to install and operate heavy and non-heavy machinery. They typically undergo extensive training in order to be properly qualified to use different advanced machines and equipment. Many Machine Operators will be qualified to operate either computer-operated or mechanical equipment. 

They install these machines and later operate them to aid in a plant’s processes and operational levels. Machine Operators are also responsible for performing regular maintenance checks on these machines to ensure they’re functioning properly. They regularly receive training on various guidelines and regulations, which they must carefully follow to keep themselves and others safe when using this machinery.

 

Machine Operator skills and qualifications

Machine Operators use the following technical and soft skills to safely and effectively operate equipment to complete tasks:

  • Effective communication, include speaking, writing, active listening and taking instruction
  • Good leadership and training skills
  • Quick troubleshooting and problem-solving skills
  • Advanced knowledge of following blueprints and manuals
  • Excellent mechanical skills, including comfort with using tools to make simple repairs
  • Great time management
  • Keen attention to detail to identify maintenance, product or operations issues
  • Ability to stand, sit or be in other physically demanding positions for long periods of time

 

Machine Operator salary expectations

A Machine Operator makes an average of $13.85 per hour. Pay rate may depend on a candidate’s level of education, experience and geographical location.

 

Machine Operator education and training requirements

A high school diploma or GED is often required to be a Machine Operator. Some candidates may require on-the-job training to learn to operate and maintain the equipment they’ll be working with. Other candidates may have completed a technical training program in industry-specific machine operation. There may also be candidates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business or any other field. 

Depending on the industry and work setting, training and professional certification in forklift, bulldozers, loaders and backhoe loaders may be required. Safety training through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may be useful or required.

 

Machine Operator experience requirements

Entry-level Machine Operator candidates likely have little-to-no previous experience, but may be eligible to train underneath more experienced operators, learning how to properly inspect, maintain and repair each piece of equipment. Other entry-level candidates may have some relevant experience, and additional on-the-job training can help them easily transition to an independent operator. Candidates with years of experience may be able to serve in a leadership role and train new or Junior Machine Operators.

 

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Frequently asked questions about Machine Operators

 

Who does a Machine Operator report to?

Machine Operators typically have a Machine Operator Supervisor who oversees the progress of the team of Machine Operators. They provide feedback and guidance for Machine Operators to follow to improve their skills and abilities. Machine Operators typically receive their daily assignments and responsibilities from the Machine Operator Supervisor. They’ll express any concerns, comments or challenges while on the job to their supervisor, who will help them find a way to resolve it. 

 

Do Machine Operators have different responsibilities in different industries?

Machine Operators can work in a variety of different industries and companies that require specific tools and equipment. Most of them work in warehouses, where they’re trained to operate large moving machines, like conveyor belts or forklifts. Some of them work for surface or underground mining organizations, using machines to remove coal or other materials. 

There are also Machine Operators who work in the construction industry, removing older buildings or other items to create space to build new facilities. Others operate tractors and trucks to move materials around work sites like storage yards or warehouses.  

 

What's the difference between a Machine Operator and a Machinist?

Though both of their responsibilities involve operating machinery and other equipment pieces, Machine Operators and Machinists have some key differences when it comes to their skill level, training and responsibilities. Machine Operators are trained to operate, troubleshoot and repair specific types of machines. 

Machinists are also trained to repair different machines, but they also use their advanced training to program these machines. A Machinist may receive a more advanced education than a Machine Operator in order to learn how to apply high-level programming techniques to various machinery and equipment pieces.

 

What makes a good Machine Operator?

A great Machine Operator should be technically inclined to better understand how to identify issues with machines and repair them using computerized equipment. They should also have a strong understanding of and experience with using tools since they’ll regularly use them to repair equipment each day. Since the machines may regularly break or stop operating, the Machine Operator must use their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities to apply effective and long-lasting fixes to them. 

Machine Operators regularly work on a team, so collaboration and team-building skills are also ideal for candidates to have. Attention to detail is also important to help them identify potential issues that occur to the machines they regularly operate on.

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