A machine operator sets-up, starts, operates, and tends to more than one type of cutting or forming machine tool or robot.

Do you have steady hands and learn quickly? Are you interested in machines and moving parts? Becoming a machine operator is a great way to start out in the manufacturing industry, working in the middle of all the action on the production floor. It’s an exciting job with a lot of opportunity for advancement.

Machine operators work as part of the assembly line in a production facility. Your position will put you in charge of a basic, manually-controlled manufacturing machine. You’ll start, stop, and monitor the machine’s operation, making sure there are no defects or issues in the product it makes. You might need to make small adjustments to your machine, or perform minor repairs if it malfunctions. Depending on the size of your company and the manufacturing system, you may be assigned to one specific machine, or to several. Either way, you’ll need to learn all about how the machine works in order to run and repair it.

A job as a machine operator is considered entry-level, but any previous experience working with large machines or on a production floor will make you stand out to potential employers. In addition, knowledge of basic mechanical principles can give you a boost in the job hunt.

Also Known As:

Equipment Operator, Machine Technician, Machine Tool Setters, Operators, Tenders, Plastic - Set up

Critical Skills


  • Attention to Detail
  • Complex Problem Solving Skills
  • Comprehend and Follow Visual, Written, and Oral Instructions
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Monitor Machine Operation
  • Quality Control


  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Communication - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking/Oral
  • Operation and Control
  • Repairing
  • Teamwork
  • Troubleshooting
  • Working with Technology

Key Responsibilities

  • Perform minor adjustments and calibrations on machines
  • Inspect workpieces for defects
  • Select, install, and adjust alignment of drills, cutters, dies, guides, and holding devices, using templates, measuring instruments, and hand tools
  • Operate and monitor machines
  • Read blueprints or job orders to determine product specifications
  • Maintain cleanliness and superior operations of machines
  • Report malfunctions to machinists or other supervisors

Special Requirements

  • Heavy Lifting Ability
  • Physical Strength and Dexterity


  • Engines
  • Production, Mechanics

How to get this job

Training in small or large engines, get experience working in mechanical repair areas.

Next Steps for this job

Gain mechanical and engine repair skills, practice strong communication skills.

Specific job titles and duties vary by employer so check for details.