Though it seems like a simple job, being a machine operator is actually quite complex. The specific duties may vary by company, but the essential job description and needed skills remain the same. Here are some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a machine operator and the skills you need to be a success.
Being a machine operator typically involves:
- Interpreting job orders and specs
- Preparing and setting up the machine
- Preparing and inserting raw materials and other components
- Running and controlling the machine
- Inspecting finished products for quality control
- Testing and troubleshooting the machine
- Performing minor machine maintenance
- Logging and preparing reports on each job
- Maintaining a safe and productive environment at all times
To be a successful machine operator, and execute your daily duties as expected, you will need numerous skills. These fall into a few different categories:
- Organization: You will need to track different raw materials, parts, and finished products, and document any errors or defects. You may also need to draw up and follow a schedule for routine maintenance. Staying organized and accurately recording data are essential.
- Technical know-how: You may not need prior experience with the specific machine, but you will need a strong technical and mechanical background. This includes the ability to understand and interpret diagrams, blueprints, and schematics. You should also know your way around heavy machinery.
- Observation and multitasking: Machinery is potentially dangerous, and you will need to take responsibility for both safety and quality control. You should have the ability to stay focused, to carefully observe your whole workstation at once, and to evaluate and address issues as they occur.
- Communication: Though machine operators primarily work alone, they are typically part of a larger team, and they may be closely watched by a floor manager or supervisor. This means that you will need to know how to communicate with both peers and leaders. You may also be expected to work directly with clients, breaking down complex jobs in simple terms and seeking to understand exactly what each client needs. Communication breakdowns at any level could lead to inaccurate orders at best, and even to potential workplace injuries.
Machine operator can be an exciting role for those who enjoy working with their hands. Just be aware that the typical daily duties and needed skills extend beyond simply running a machine all day.