Industrial Career Paths: Machine Operator

Oct 15, 2015

Machine Operators set up, run, and perform basic maintenance on production equipment. Plants, factories, and mills in Western North Carolina hire Machine Operators to work on machines that manufacture various types of plastic or metal products or product parts. Production equipment includes injection mold machines, blow mold machines, computer numeric control (CNC) equipment or manual multi-spindle production machines, and more. Machine Operators may also need to know how to use equipment such as lathes, cutters, shears, borers, millers, grinders, presses, and drills.

There are many different types of Machine Operator jobs. A list of common job titles you’ll find on this career path includes:

  • Injection Molding Technician
  • CNC Machinist
  • CNC Operator
  • CNC Machine Setter
  • Die Setter
  • Machine Technician
  • Machine Operator
  • Set-Up Person

How to Become a Machine Operator

Employers often require Machine Operator job candidates to have a high school diploma or GED. High school students who are looking to improve their chances of getting hired in a Machine Operator job just after graduation should consider taking classes in computer programming, shop, blueprint reading, and math classes including algebra and geometry. Basic math and communication skills are critical to success in this type of industrial career.

Many Machine Operator jobs can be learned on the job, though certain positions require specialized knowledge and training. CNC positions often require certification from an accredited school. Read the Friday Services blog 4 Community College Programs that Can Help You Get Good Jobs Now to see an overview of local programs that can help you get the training you need to be hired on in a skilled Machine Operator position.

Common Job Duties

Machine Operator job duties vary based on the types of machines a manufacturer uses. Some plants hire Setters to set up or get machines ready for production. Then the Machine Operator, or team of Machine Operators, run and monitor machines while inspecting products for quality. Operators may also be required to add raw materials to production equipment or make adjustments to machines while they run. Workers may be expected to know how to operate more than one type of machine. It is helpful to know how to interpret blueprints and read measuring tape, rulers, gauges, and calipers. Other possible job duties:

  • Measure and mark reference points and cutting lines on workpieces, using traced templates, compasses, and rules.
  • Select, install, and adjust alignment of drills, cutters, dies, guides, and holding devices, using templates, measuring instruments, and hand tools.
  • Move controls or mount gears, cams, or templates in machines to set feed rates and cutting speeds, depths, and angles.
  • Position, adjust, and secure stock material or workpieces against stops, on arbors, or in chucks, fixtures, or automatic feeding mechanisms, manually or using hoists.
  • Perform safety inspections on production machines.
  • Perform minor machine maintenance, such as oiling or cleaning machines, dies, or workpieces, or adding coolant to machine reservoirs.
  • Inspect and measure products or parts for quality control.
  • Record operational data such as pressure readings, lengths of strokes, feed rates, and speeds

Visit O-Net, a website sponsored by the US Government that helps people explore different occupations, to read a more comprehensive list of tasks, tools, technologies, skills, abilities, work activities and other job information about careers for Multiple Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders.

Talk to Friday Services about How to Get a Job as a Machine Operator

At Friday Services we specialize in helping workers in Western North Carolina find the right job for them on their chosen career path. We provide staffing services to many local manufacturers who hire Machine Operators. If you have already started your career as a Machine Operator, we can help match you to the job that will be right for you. Apply online here.

If you are interested in becoming a Machine Operator, and have questions about the steps you need to take to get a good machine operator job, or the skills you need to learn, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help job seekers find the right job!


If you see a lot of potential in yourself – so do we! Start your job search and learn about the opportunities and benefits offered.


Friday Services is independent and locally owned. We offer Western North Carolina employers strategic flexibility with greater attention to detail.