A machine operator works in the manufacturing industry and is responsible for running equipment in a safe and effective manner. There are three items required to become a machine operator: high school graduation, mechanical aptitude and an attention to detail. Anyone who works as a machine operator must be willing to work shifts, possibly including evenings and weekends. Many companies have rotating shifts, where all employees are required to switch between morning, evening, and night shifts over a period of several weeks or months.
Machine operators are essential in the manufacturing and packaging industries. Although there is a great deal of automation built into the manufacturing process, a machine operator makes sure that machine is properly stocked and solves any minor problems. He or she is responsible for communicating with the maintenance mechanic and floor supervisor about any production issues.
Most employers require anyone who wants to become a machine operator to have a high school diploma. In some industries, machine operators must be at least 19 years old, because of the safety issues that are inherent in that environment. There are no specific courses, but many students take courses in machine shop or carpentry. The skills taught in these courses can improve manual dexterity, as well as providing a fundamental understanding of the importance of safety.
Someone with mechanical aptitude and skill is ideally suited to become a machine operator. The abilities to understand how the machine works, possible problems and how to perform basic maintenance and repairs are very important in this job. The best way to develop these skills is through practice. Using mechanical tools and equipment to complete minor repairs is a great way to increase mechanical skills.
A high degree of attention to detail is required to become a machine operator. Depending on the type of machine used and the industry, the machine operator must make minor adjustments to the machine settings. He or she might also be responsible for quality assurance, checking the details of the production output.
Career advancement opportunity for a machine operator include working as a quality assurance inspector, a line supervisor or a production manager. In order to qualify for these positions, additional training often is required to learn the skills necessary to be successful. The best way to learn how to advance in this field is to talk with human resources professionals in the industry. Many people feel that a machine operator is a male-dominated position, but there has been an increasing number of women who choose a machine operator position as the first step in a career in the manufacturing industry.