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Manufacturing machine operators keep the wheels of industry rolling and are a vital component in the manufacturing process.

What does a manufacturing machine operator do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Manufacturing machine operators (sometimes called production operators) are builders, fabricators, mechanics, craftsmen and quality assurance all rolled into one. They work with heavy machinery on the factory floor, often with computer-controlled equipment or more mechanically based machines to make sure they are set up properly, working well, and producing high-quality products in a safe environment. Machine operators make sure their machines are working at full capacity, are stocked with the necessary materials and are well maintained.

Typical tasks include:

  • maintaining the factory machinery
  • ensuring the smooth and efficient running of machines
  • carrying out routine maintenance
  • fixing machines that have broken down
  • ensuring enough raw materials are fed into the machines
  • conducting periodic checks on output efficiency
  • occasionally removing and packing finished products
  • gaining a thorough knowledge of a wide range of factory machinery and how it works

Shift work, including nights and weekends, may be required, especially when manufacturing equipment is in continual 24-hour operation.

Typical employers of manufacturing machine operators

  • Food and drink companies
  • Consumer goods manufacturers
  • Printing and packaging companies
  • Electronic goods assembly companies
  • The automotive industry

Jobs are advertised online and by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies.

Qualifications and training required

A career as a machine operator is typically pursued by school leavers via an apprenticeship or entry-level job. To find out more about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

There are a number of other opportunities open to engineering graduates in the manufacturing industry, including roles such as packaging technologist, maintenance engineer, manufacturing engineer, materials engineer and mechanical engineer.

Key skills for machine operators

  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Concentration
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork
  • Able to follow instructions and production schedules
  • Able to act quickly when a problem arises

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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